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Over the summer I hiked the Pygmy Forest in Salt Point State Park in Gualala, California. On the south side of Gualala grow stands of miniature Bolander Pine, Bishop Pine, Mendocino Cypress and Redwood trees. These trees are stunted in stature due to the combination of highly-acidic, nutrient-free soil and rock layer that prevents drainage, root growth and subsequently overall tree growth.

As I was exploring the terrain and looking more closely at the pygmy trees, the dietitian in me considered the effects of nutrient-poor food selections on our "stature" or health. Americans typically have an abundance of food and a vast variety of foods with which to choose. However, it bears deeper inspection of our daily nutrient intake to see if we, like the pygmy trees, are ingesting adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals and macronutrients to allow our bodies to be maintained and if needed, heal. It is easy to get complacent in what we buy at the grocery store and convenience foods often take the place of nutritious choices.

What about you? What is in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry? Do you choose a variety of foods including lean protein, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy, seeds, nuts and legumes? Are you avoiding certain foods due to a health concern and/or to lose weight?

Our bodies need a steady, well-intentioned supply of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and water to manufacture new cells, allow us to live and breathe and heal if there is an injury. Remember, what we eat today, prepares us for the days ahead. Choose a variety of foods in moderate amounts and you will find yourself able to go the distance...including all the way to the skyline!

Please note this article is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health condition. Please check with your doctor before changing your diet, taking supplements or beginning a new exercise/fitness routine.

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