What is Dietary Assessment?
Simply put, a dietary assessment is a record of the foods you eat in an attempt to calculate your potential nutrient intake. Don’t confuse this with a healthy eating plan or a nutritional laboratory analysis.
The most common methods for dietary assessment include:
- Food diary
- 24-hour recall
- Food frequency
In essence, these short-term tools reveal which foods and how much you habitually consume. Dietary assessments may be repeated from time-to-time but they become cumbersome.
In addition, any “recall” methods can be very inaccurate.
Do you rely on “dietary assessment” to improve your health?
Assessment of dietary intake can never provide an assessment of nutritional health (the state consequent on the ingestion and utilization of nutrients.) ~Trace Elements in Human Nutrition and Health, World Health Organization, Geneva, 1996
First, this statement by the World Health Organization is not quite complete. More appropriately, it should be (the state consequent on the ingestion, absorption, and utilization of nutrients.)
Dietary assessment merely denotes the consumption of a food – ingestion. Albeit an important step in nutrition, it cannot reveal the absorption or utilization of any nutrient.
In essence, dietary assessment is like guessing your cholesterol levels (because you eat eggs!), glucose levels (because you eat sugar!), blood pressure (because you eat salt!), or any other pertinent health-related parameters based solely on your diet (what you eat!).
It is simply not possible.
In addition, a dietary assessment cannot reveal the presence of common toxic elements such as mercury, aluminum, lead, arsenic, cadmium, and so on. It cannot reveal nutrient imbalances caused by stress, chemical toxins, medications, and so on.
What is the difference between diet and nutrition?
This is an important question because diet and nutrition are used synonymously and remain widely misunderstood. However, there is a vast distinction between both terms!
- Diet – refers to the foods you consume (i.e., ingestion).
- Nutrition – refers to the nutrients that are ingested, absorbed, and more importantly, utilized at the cellular level.
In other words, just because you may consume a certain food in your diet with known specific nutrients (e.g., a banana for potassium), it does not necessarily mean those nutrients will be absorbed, retained, or utilized at the cellular level.
Unfortunately, thanks to self-selection of improper foods, your diet can easily contribute toward a state of malnutrition.
As you can see throughout this site, numerous factors can interfere with your nutrition. A dietary assessment does not take into account several important factors that include:
- Neuroendocrine systems – fast or slow
Dietary Assessment does not address your neuroendocrine systems connection.
Your neuroendocrine systems are extremely important yet rarely considered in human nutrition and cannot be addressed by dietary assessment.
However, these systems play pivotal roles in human nutrition that include:
- Absorption of nutrients effected by nervous system dominance
- Excretion of nutrients
- Increased nutrient demands (i.e., diseased states, stress, etc.)
- Transport of nutrients throughout the mind and body
- Utilization of nutrients at the cellular level
- Storage for minerals, vitamins, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates
This simply reiterates the importance of knowing your metabolism.
Can a dietary assessment be useful?
Albeit widely touted for nutritional assessment, a dietary assessment can be a useful tool in certain situations but not for your nutritional health per se.
For example, a dietary assessment may be very helpful when it comes to IgG antigens causing food sensitivities or intolerances.
In this instance, your dietary assessment record could come in quite handy as an integral part of your elimination/rotation diet in an effort to find the offending food.
However, as with any nutritional approach, this requires patience because an IgG food allergy could require up to a week before any symptoms manifest.
Because this is a rather long timeframe, we would recommend an IgG antigen laboratory analysis. Even though these lab tests are known to show “false positives” for an offending food, they can still provide tremendous insight for a potentially offending food.
Other instances that a dietary assessment could prove more useful may include:
- Track unhealthy food intake (fast foods, junk foods, high glycemic index foods, etc.)
- Food weighting
- Portion control
- Calorie counting
- Carbohydrate counting.
Will a dietary assessment reveal healthy foods I need?
A dietary assessment does not reveal your current nutrient excesses or deficiencies nor the presence of toxic elements. This information is only revealed using laboratory analyses.
Simply put, your healthiest foods provide specific nutrients you need to replenish nutrient deficiencies and at the same time, do not contribute toward further increases of nutrients that are already excessive. In addition, your healthiest foods are an important component for an effective detox program for toxic elements as well as chemical toxins.
What is the most accurate means for nutritional assessment?
Laboratory analyses are the only means too accurately perform direct and functional nutritional assessments. There are a variety of lab analyses available to screen different nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, amino acids, fatty acids, toxic elements, organic acids, and so on.
However, we recommend a hair tissue mineral analysis as your primary lab analysis. A hair analysis reveals two important components of nutrition – essential minerals and toxic elements. In addition, hair analysis is economical, accurate, and noninvasive.
Hair, by its very nature, provides an accurate long-term “mineral blueprint” for nutritional status, ongoing toxic element exposures, and because it is a tissue analysis, reveals your cellular metabolic activity.
This is “the state consequent on the ingestion” and more importantly, “the utilization of nutrients.”
Are you ready for your nutritional assessment?
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