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Ep 1: What is Nutritional Poverty?

Hosted by: MegaFood | Podcast



Ep 1: What is Nutritional Poverty?

runtime: 24:30


Ep 1: What is Nutritional Poverty?
Abigail and Killeen discuss what “Nutritional Poverty” means, and who it affects. They cover nutrient deficiency trends in the American diet and explore why it might be beneficial to adopt an attitude of better -not perfect- when it comes to nutrition. You’ll hear from health experts Erin Stokes, ND, Ashley Koff, RD and Tieraona Low Dog, MD.

Killeen:  [00:00] Can we get all the nutrients we need in our daily diet? What does perfect nutrition look like anyway?

[00:07] Today, we are taking on the topic of "Nutritional Poverty." Abigail and I are going to cover nutrient deficiency trends in the American diet and talk about why better -not perfect- nutrition might be a good attitude to adopt.

[00:19] [background music]

Announcer:  [00:20] The statements in this podcast have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

[00:28] Thanks for listening to "That Supplement Show." Our hosts today are Abigail and Killeen. Enjoy.

Killeen:  [00:33] Is your phone on airplane mode, Abigail?

Abigail:  [00:38] It is, is yours?

Killeen:  [00:39] It is. What are we talking about today?

Abigail:  [00:42] I thought we could about nutritional poverty.

Killeen:  [00:45] Nutritional what?

Abigail:  [00:46] I was hoping you could tell me.

Killeen:  [00:49] I can actually. Nutritional poverty, that sounds pretty ominous. It's something we've been talking about a lot lately around here because it's a huge important issue that we don't hear enough about.

[01:02] It's limited access to nutrition and limited access to nutritionally dense foods. While it's often seen as a problem in impoverished areas, anyone of us here can be nutritionally poor.

Abigail:  [01:14] It reminds of the term, health is wealth, which I am sure we've all heard before. I think that's definitely true. There're certain communities where access to whole food is challenging, but we do see nutritionally poverty, to your point, in other areas.

[01:28] It's not just about physical access to foods, like living in areas where you can't grow it, but having the means and the money to be able to afford these foods because they're often expensive.

Killeen:  [01:38] Yeah. To break it down, nutritional poverty can affect anyone, whether you have the access, or whether you're not having enough money to be able to purchase the foods that you need.

[01:50] When we aren't able to access healthful whole foods, we become nutritionally impoverished. This is pretty scary stuff because it has impacts on our health.

[02:00] We like to say that vitamins and minerals are building blocks of good health and they help every function in our bodies. Without them, our health can suffer. In a nutshell, we might be wealthy from a financial standpoint but that doesn't mean that we are nutritionally wealthy.

Abigail:  [02:17] I think that so interesting because I keep seeing these scary media headlines, news bulletins, and social media articles that are saying, "You can get everything you need in your diet," but if we're seeing so much nutritional poverty, that's certainly not the case.

[02:32] We need to have access to healthful whole foods to be able to be nutritionally rich. We aren't just getting everything that we need in our diets.

Killeen:  [02:40] Right, something that's said all the time is food first. I think that that's true but it can't necessarily be only food or just because we think we have this diet that is covering all of the bases, how do we know that that's really the case?

[02:58] We could look at a food pyramid, but that doesn't mean that that's going to be what's right for me. We all have different needs. In order to get into the nitty gritty of this, let's turn over to a doctor that both you and I know and really respect, Dr. Low Dog, Tieraona Low Dog.

[03:18] She is incredible health practitioner. She has written several books. One of them, "Fortify Your Life" talks all about vitamins and minerals supplementation. She demystifies what it means, or, I should say, what you need in order to be able to achieve that nutrition where there aren't too many gaps in your diet.

[03:40] In writing the book, she came across a ton of research and I think that our listeners will find it enlightening. Here is Dr. Low Dog talking about vitamins and nutrient deficiencies.

[03:52] [sound effects]

Dr. Tieraona Low Dog:  [03:52] This is the reason I recommend a multivitamin, because how many people then go into their doctor and like, "I am not feeling good." He is like, "I am tired." They check your thyroid, and they check your iron level, and these kinds of things and tell you, "Oh, the good news is you're fine. Everything is normal."

[04:08] You leave going, "I don't feel normal. I don't feel. I am not..."

Dr. Erin Stokes:  [04:13] How could everything be fine when I am so tired?"

Dr. Tieraona:  [04:15] I am still tired."

[04:16] [sound effects]

Announcer:  [04:16] Hold on one second. Stop the tape. Who's that other voice?

Killeen:  [04:18] That's Dr. Erin Stokes. She is our medical director and a naturopathic doctor. If you hang tight, we'll be talking to her in just a couple of minutes.

[04:25] [sound effects]

Dr. Tieraona:  [04:26] Because nobody is checking for a number of these vitamins like B1, C, and B6, and some of these others. Since we're not going to routinely touch for these in a medical office, you're probably better off taking a very basic, not a mega dose but a basic multivitamin.

[04:44] Remembering that food is your fuel, food is your fuel. Lots of plant foods, leafy greens, good citrus, tomatoes, avocados, whole grains, and if you are not a vegetarian, certainly having healthy types of meats.

[05:01] I deal with a lot of people who have food insecurity, meaning that they don't know whether next meal is going to come from. I work with a lot of people who have a very poor diet.

[05:12] The standard American diet is called a SAD diet, in the medical literature. It's abbreviated SAD.

Dr. Erin:  [05:19] It is.

Dr. Tieraona:  [05:20] SAD diet.

[05:21] When the news keeps coming on saying you're getting everything you need in diet, and yet the CDC tells us 18 million Americans are woefully deficient in B12, 30 million deficient in B6, 90 million deficient in vitamin D, 16 million in vitamin C, then you begin to go, "Gosh, that's 10s of millions of people.

[05:44] A very basic multivitamin is probably a smart thing to do, if you're trying to keep your energy up.

[05:53] [sound effects]

Killeen:  [05:53] Wait a minute. These statistics are staggering. Abigail, aren't B vitamins crucial when it comes to energy levels? I would like to hear more here.

Abigail:  [06:03] You know what I think we should do? I think we should call the doctor for this one.

Killeen:  [06:06] Let's call the doctor.

[06:07] [phone rings]

Dr. Erin:  [06:11] Hello. This is Dr. Erin Stokes.

Killeen:  [06:13] Hi, Erin. It's Killeen and Abigail calling.

Dr. Erin:  [06:16] Hi, Killeen and Abigail. How are you?

Abigail:  [06:19] We're here talking about vitamin B6. We know it's a common nutrient deficiency. We just heard Dr. Low Dog tell us about that.

[06:26] We're hoping you could provide some expertise. We know a lot about vitamin C and probably vitamin D, but why should we be worried about the B vitamins and specifically vitamin B6?

Dr. Erin:  [06:36] The B vitamins work as a family. They work as a team. Each one has its own unique role. It's true that a common deficiency that many people aren't aware of is vitamin B6.

[06:51] People don't realize what an important role it plays in the body. I like to talk about it being really important for healthy mood and healthy energy levels. The reason is because vitamin B6 actually plays a critical role in the production of some of our key neurotransmitters.

[07:12] You may have heard of serotonin, dopamine, and even melatonin. Vitamin B6 deficiency, understandably, when you frame it and realize what it does, it could be associated with a depressed mood. It can be associated with people not able to think as quickly and clearly as they like as well as inadequate sleep.

[07:35] We know that sleep is a big issue for a lot of people. In fact, this vitamin deficiency, it impacts about 30 million Americans. About 30 million Americans are deficient in Vitamin B 6.

[07:51] This comes to us from the data that we have from the CDC, the Center for Disease Control. This is solid data, and the thing is that when you look at the population of the United States, it's approximately 300 million. It might be a bit closer at this point to 320.

[08:10] For rounding, if 30 million Americans are deficient in Vitamin B6 and there's about 300 million Americans, we're looking at one out of every 10 people in our country that have this deficiency.

[08:27] Of course, that statistic is not taking into account many more people that could have sub optimal levels but not yet a true deficiency.

[08:38] This is one that I like to focus in on. It's interesting because there's more and more awareness of vitamin D, D as in the sunshine vitamin. People know about vitamin C. We're learning more about this group of B vitamins, in particularly vitamin B6.

Killeen:  [08:57] Thanks, Erin. Here we are seeking caffeine and other energizing beverages when, perhaps, what we really need is just a bit of vitamin B6. Is that right?

Abigail:  [09:09] It is right, and it's still really hard to get in the diet. That's why we're seeing those staggering deficiencies and insufficiencies.

[09:18] I was shocked to read in Dr. Low Dog's book which I love and recommend for everybody. It's just a great resource to have to help you take charge of your health.

[09:27] It's so difficult to get B6 from even foods that are considered good sources of that nutrient. Like Dr. Erin Stokes said, little old B6 is involved in a lot of different processes in the body.

[09:38] It's important for a healthy metabolism, nervous system health, energy levels, as she mentioned, lots of functions.

Killeen:  [09:44] If I could interrupt you just for one minute? We have a quick word from our sponsor.

[09:48] [background music]

Announcer:  [09:49] This episode is brought to you by MegaFood's newest line of age and gender specific multivitamins. With all the time and care you put into maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it seems unfair that your nutrition may still be coming up short.

[10:00] That's why MegaFood has partnered with Dr. Taraona Low Dog to develop a line of multivitamins designed to get you exactly what you've been missing out on.

[10:08] For more information on supporting your health during the various stages of life with MegaFood's doctor formulated multis, visit I think I'm going to.

Abigail:  [10:18] Quiz time for you, Killeen.

[10:20] [background music]

Killeen:  [10:20] Wait, you didn't tell me there was going to be a quiz?

Abigail:  [10:29] You'll do fine. [laughs]

Killeen:  [10:30] All right.

Abigail:  [10:31] How many tablespoons of peanut butter do you think you need to eat to get the minimum of recommended amounts of vitamin B6, which is just one and a half milligrams?

Killeen:  [10:41] Four.

[10:42] [buzzer sound]

Abigail:  [10:43] You need to eat 20 tablespoons of peanut butter.

Killeen:  [10:46] What?

Abigail:  [10:46] It's a lot. All right, one more. How much lentils would you need to eat to get your daily dose of B6?

Killeen:  [10:52] I love lintels. Two cups, will say.

[10:57] [buzzer sound]

Abigail:  [10:57] You'd actually need to eat almost four cups, 3.75 cups of lintels just to get that minimum requirement for B6.

Killeen:  [11:05] Who does that?

Abigail:  [11:05] Who does that? That's so much. Even if you had a lentil soup, I think that's [laughs] pretty excessive. Say, you added peanut butter    because we know that's rich in B6    you added that to your morning smoothie, and then you had lentill soup with avocado for lunch, which sounds delicious, and avocado's another good source of B6.

[11:22] For dinner, you had a big salad that had some wild caught salmon and some sunflower seeds, which are more great B6 sources, you'd probably be on your way to getting that minimum requirement, maybe even a little bit more, which will be great, but that's just one meal plan for one single nutrient.

Killeen:  [11:37] We can't fit all of the nutrients that we need into a daily diet?

Abigail:  [11:43] It's challenging. It's a full time job. [laughs]

Killeen:  [11:45] Maybe you could do it, but you need to be strategic and probably hungry. I'm not sure I could.

[11:52] Even when we eat well, and the meal plan that you just described sounds very well, that was B6. What about the other nutrients that are in clashed in? It sounds we need to be super diligent to ensure we're meeting all of these demands.

Abigail:  [12:07] Think about just accessing these whole foods on a daily basis. It's more complex than the cost, which was what we talked about earlier. That's a socio economic barrier, but there's food quality concerns.

[12:18] The food does not have the same nutrients as it did years ago. Our soils are depleted and then we haven't even talked about time being an obstacle to healthful foods.

Killeen:  [12:27] Yeah, I can definitely attest to that. We're all so busy with work, with raising families, taking care of our homes. The common answer is, "How are you doing?" "I'm busy." That in itself is a topic that we should [laughs] probably get into someday.

[12:44] As far as talking about nutritional poverty, it could be hard to prioritize time to make healthy meals. I tried my best. I live here in New England, so we're eating seasonally and that means lots of butternut squash over the winter. We're not able to just waltz on over to the Farmers' Market, like somebody maybe in California where growing season is always going on. We've got a long cold winter.

[13:12] Either there's the seasonal aspect that's tricky and then, not to mention, I have small children. What I consider a well balanced meal, it might be something that's a little more challenging to get them to warm up to. They just don't seem to appreciate veggies the way I do and they're total suckers for the colorless carbs, like many kids are.

Abigail:  [13:34] I love that phrase colorless carbs. Those are the things we reach for, especially it's comfort food too. I think that's why so many people rely on take-out or fast food dinners. It's delicious and it's convenient.

[13:46] If you've had a long day, the last thing you want to do is go home and cook a meal. That's why I rely so heavily on my Thai restaurant next door. [laughs]

Killeen:  [13:54] I knew you're going to bring up your favorite Thai food restaurant. Abigail always talks about this Thai food place. I've actually been there and it's good. You don't go there every single day.

[14:04] It's all about having a little bit of restraint and realizing that maybe once in awhile, it's all right. We'll get to that in a second.

[14:13] I wanted to touch on a conversation that we had with a friend of ours, Ashley Koff, who is a RD, a Registered Dietitian. She recently said something that helped me reset the notion of what fast food is. Let's listen to Ashley.

[14:29] [sound effects]

Ashley Koff:  [14:30] I take issue from a marketing standpoint with even the term fast food, because fast food often feels, we think of that a lot of times as junk food, or those of us in the nutrition world, or we think of it as great tasting but probably not great for us.

[14:45] I like to remind people, an apple is fast food, [laughs] an iced tea is fast. There are all these great for us or better for us options that are fast.

[14:53] [sound effects]

Killeen:  [14:54] Well said, Ashley. She also alludes to another principle that can aid us in curing nutritional poverty or at least taking a step in the right direction. Ashley is a huge advocate of better for us options, rather than perfect options. This is key, so listen up here.

[15:13] There's a super important distinction between better versus perfect, because if we're all striving for perfection, we're probably going to burn out. How many people talk about starting some new diet and there's a lot of limitations there. Before you know it, it's not fun and it's just sucking the joy out of things.

Abigail:  [15:33] You're exhausted and probably a little cranky. [laughs]

Killeen:  [15:36] Yeah, not to mention. What's perfect for one person might not necessarily be perfect for another. If we focus on making better choices whenever possible, we're slowly starting to feel those nutritional gaps and become more nutritionally rich.

Abigail:  [15:52] I can apply that to my Thai take out. I can get the brown rice instead of the white rice. [laughs]

Killeen:  [15:57] The brown rice is way better anyway.

Abigail:  [15:59] It is way better.

Killeen:  [15:59] Come on, let's admit it.

Abigail:  [16:01] It also makes the concept a lot more manageable. It takes a lot of the pressure off of us.

Killeen:  [16:05] It absolutely does. Actually, Ashley has a funny story from her time pursuing that perfect path. Let's take a listen.

[16:13] [sound effects]

Ashley:  [16:13] I'll tell you a funny story. In my pursuit of perfect, I tried what I'll say more of the normal, going to a doctor, and then the doctor telling me, "You don't have any problems." It's making me feel like my digestive issues were in my mind. I was, "OK. It's good to know there's nothing functionally wrong with me."

[16:34] I went to some of those. I tried macrobiotics. I tried running in marathon, and being a vegan, and doing all of these, and none of it was working for me. I went to some different people. I met our colleague Suzie Wuwu in New York City.

[16:48] At a certain point, you're, "Come on, there's got to be an answer." She was, brings me over to her house, pricks my finger, puts a little bit of blood on the slide and sticks it under a literally a Fisher Price microscope. [laughs] I promise you this was purchased from Toys "R" Us, right?

[17:07] She looks at me and she goes, "Did you have a hard time? Do you feel like your life was difficult when you were about 14 or 15?" I flashed back to all of the angst that I had as a teenager. I'm, "Yeah. It was hard. Life was difficult and everything." She was, "Because you got a worm at that point." I was, "What?"

[17:28] She's like, "Yeah. You have a massive worm. I can tell all this from pricking my blood and looking under Fisher Price microscope." Anyway, her recommendation was seven days of drinking goat's milk and I didn't just have to drink, because she told me goat's milk was the perfect food nutritionally.

[17:44] Not just drink goat's milk not a little, because I would have just fasted, but I had to have 50 ounces of goat's milk each day. Not only did I do this...

Killeen:  [17:53] It's a lot of goat's milk.

Ashley:  [17:55] It's a lot of goat's milk. Remember, this is not when goat's milk was sold. I had to go somewhere and all this stuff. Here I am in Manhattan, but also I didn't want anyone to know anything was up.

[18:05] I still needed to put up a perfect facade. I can literally took my goat's milk to the White Horse Tavern in Downtown New York City and told the bartender to pour it into a cup with some ice and make it look like I was drinking a White Russian because I didn't want people to think that I was not a fun girl [laughs] and not out partying with everyone.

[18:23] You think about that, and you're like...Obviously, today, I want people to know that, even myself, I'm a qualified healthcare practitioner. I have a medical license. I don't put people on goat's milk cleanses, but I get it that we all hit the wall when we're trying to figure out what it is that could actually work for us.

[18:43] From so much of this, from all these different angles, I realized I had to break up with perfect.

[18:48] [sound effects]

Abigail:  [18:49] That is a hilarious story.

Killeen:  [18:51] Isn't it wild? I love the idea of breaking up with perfect because perfect is not realistic. It often, as I said earlier, sets us up for failure. Let's hear Erin Stokes's opinion on it.

[19:04] [sound effects]

Dr. Erin:  [19:06] I believe that perfect is a dangerous word. It's not just a dangerous word. It's a dangerous concept. When I hear, "Better, not perfect," my shoulders drop like, "OK, I don't have to be perfect." There's that phrase, "Perfect is the enemy of good."

[19:25] Sometimes people, when they can't be perfect, they stop trying because they've set such a high bar that is frankly un-obtainable.

[19:37] [sound effects]

Abigail:  [19:37] Thanks, Erin. Let's see, who are the perfection striving type? I've been there before. I'm sure you have, Killeen. I've heard you identify as a perfectionist in the past. [laughs]

Killeen:  [19:47] I totally am, so I get it.

Abigail:  [19:49] We talked a little bit. We alluded to this earlier, but there's a whole lot of ideas around what perfect is. It's not just one size fits all.

[19:57] If we go back to Ashley's story with her friend, Suzie Wuwu, it was goat's milk. That's extreme, but that was perfect to her. On the flip side, there's those who say that we shouldn't even consume dairy at all in the first place.

[20:10] The point is, even if perfect is your goal, what is perfect? It means so many different things? You can't just Google the perfect nutrition plan and expect it to work for you.

[20:20] We know this. When you're seeking a path to wellness, it can be very easy to forget that. It can be overwhelming. We're all different.

[20:28] We should listen to another great point from Erin and Ashley's chat that addresses the issue of information sources.

Killeen:  [20:34] Let's hear it.

[20:35] [sound effects]

Dr. Erin:  [20:35] I want to be clear, I didn't create this term. I applied it to the nutrition and the health space. A while back, I heard the term, infobesity. I was like, "Oh yeah, this is..."

[20:45] If you look at it, infobesity is a bigger epidemic than obesity because infobesity is affecting, afflicting all of us, regardless of our health status. If obesity is the epidemic of too much fat, and we know fat is not just uncomfortable or not what we want our body, it's actually unhealthy in terms of disruption and interruption in the body's better functions.

[21:11] Infobesity is the disease of too much information. The biggest issue with that is that you may actually have a ton of great quality information.

[21:22] [sound effects]

Killeen:  [21:22] Given the concept of infobesity, maybe it's a good idea that we stop here. Should we resist the urge to give too much information today and maybe wrap up with a summary?

Abigail:  [21:34] Let's give it a shot. The nature of our food, how it's grown, how we obtain it has changed dramatically over the last 50 years. As a result, it's challenging to get all of the vitamins and minerals we need even when we're eating a perfect diet.

[21:48] We know Americans do not consume enough of the right foods to get all the essential nutrients needed to maintain optimal health, whether they don't have access to it or the money to buy the healthful whole foods. That's nutritional poverty.

Killeen:  [22:01] As for curing it, for wiping it out, and insuring that everyone has a gap free life, that's pretty much a dream scenario. I feel like we can get closer to making it a reality by minding those gaps through healthy food choices, and then, of course, the daily multivitamin to fill the spaces in between.

Abigail:  [22:21] We should leave it here with a bit of sage wisdom from Dr. Low Dog.

Killeen:  [22:24] Perfect, that's a great idea. I want to give thanks to our listeners. At least I'll speak for myself, that I'm already looking forward to our next discussion. I'd like to go deeper on some of these deficiencies that we talked about today.

[22:37] I'm committed in my perfectionism to be a B vitamin expert and get the next quiz correct.

Abigail:  [22:44] [laughs] Awesome. I'm absolutely looking forward to it, too. Is there anything else you wanted to add?

Killeen:  [22:50] No, sorry. I can talk all day, you know that.

Abigail:  [22:53] I do.

Killeen:  [22:54] Take it away, Tieraona.

Dr. Tieraona:  [22:56] What we're trying to maybe get at is that there will always be gaps. That's part of life. Being mindful of the gap is important because it means you're bringing it to your consciousness. You can decide as an individual where, which ones, and how you want to address that.

[23:18] In my heart, I believe that nobody ever makes lasting changes that lasts, that don't come up from a place of deep love, connection, and spirit. That's the gap that you probably have to mind first if you want lasting changes everywhere else.

[23:40] [background music]

Announcer:  [23:40] This podcast is brought to you by MegaFood, keeping it real, making vitamin and mineral supplements in New Hampshire since 1973. Committed to making products that use real food from family owned farms to make a real difference, they've produced some of the most effective and far out supplements available today.

[23:55] Fresh from farm to tablet, there's no psyche about it. MegaFood is as real as it gets. Do yourself a salad, and catch them on the flip side at

[24:03] The statements in this podcast have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Abigail:  [24:09] For resources and links related to this episode of That Supplement Show and to learn how you can help cure nutritional poverty, visit show and look for episode one.

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