Marika Day: What is a meso-nutrient and why should I care?
If you haven’t heard of meso-nutrients, you’re about to. Here, dietitian Marika Day explains everything you need to know about this health and wellbeing trend.
Marika Day is a nutritionist and Accredited Practising Dietitian.
There’s a new health and wellbeing trend that you might have come across in your Instagram feed – so-called ‘meso-nutrients’ and the related concept of ‘meso-dosing’. In fact, media outlets have flagged it as a key health trend for this year. So, what exactly are they? And, more importantly, do they live up to the hype?
Micro, macro, meso?
I should begin by pointing out that ‘meso-nutrient’ isn’t actually a scientific term the same way that micronutrients and macronutrients are. ‘Meso’ is Greek for ‘middle’, and this is a new term that’s being used to describe the active compounds within food – the ones that are between the micro and macro. The idea is that by taking these ‘middle’ nutrients you can isolate the most beneficial ones – for example, something like the curcumin compound in turmeric – and ingest it in a concentrated form.
In the case of curcumin, advocates suggest there’s evidence of it having positive health effects in animal trials, which look promising for future research. However, the curcumin content of pure turmeric powder by weight is as low as three per cent. The argument would be that if you wanted to get an effective dose for a human, you’d need to eat something like 100 grams of turmeric – a meal that most wouldn’t want to serve up. Instead, you would take a ‘meso-dose’ of curcumin (or any other active compound) in an isolated form. The same concept applies to any of these compounds being packaged as meso-nutrients, whether that’s the epigallocatechin-3-gallate found in green tea or the lycopene in tomatoes.
Make your #onechange
See how many fruits and vegetables you can add to your diet this week. You’d be surprised by how quick they add up.
Supplementation, by any other name
In this sense, when people are talking about meso-dosing they’re talking about additional supplementation of a specific nutrient ¬– which is already a common practice. While there are times when supplementation is beneficial – for example, if you’re pregnant, or following a vegan diet – for the average person there’s no need for anything extra on top of what you can get from a healthy diet.
I don’t think that it’s worth following a trend and putting lots of money into expensive health products. Instead, I strongly suggest that people try their best to ensure they include a wide variety of foods in their diets. They’re going to be getting those compounds, even if it’s not in super-high doses.
Evaluating the health claims
As far as the health benefits that are being claimed by those championing meso-nutrients – like improved immunity – we don’t have the human data to show the benefits of this approach. At this stage, I can’t really recommend these compounds as providing any sort of health benefit because we don’t have enough research to suggest what effects they might have in concentrated forms.
If you’re worried about improving your immunity as we enter the cold and flu season, I’d suggest focussing on eating a good variety of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. On top of that, zinc is a great nutrient for immunity, so look to add foods like beef, lamb, shellfish, oysters, pumpkin seeds and cashews to your diet. Finally, good gut health is something that’s crucial for your immune system – so make sure that you’re getting adequate fibre in your diet.
Everyone wants a quick fix. Everyone wants a tablet that’s going to take away the need to eat fruit and vegetables. I see why that’s attractive, but unfortunately, like a lot of things in life, the easy option isn’t necessarily the best one.
Marika Day is a nutritionist and Accredited Practising Dietitian who knows what the body needs to function at its best. With more than five years’ experience in the health and fitness industry, Marika's holistic approach to diet and exercise is tried and true. The information in this article is general information only and is not intended as medical, health, nutritional or other advice. You should obtain professional advice from a medical or health practitioner in relation to your own personal circumstances.
The information in this article is general information only and is not intended as financial, medical, health, nutritional, tax or other advice. It does not take into account any individual’s personal situation or needs. You should consider obtaining professional advice from a financial adviser and/or tax specialist, or medical or health practitioner, in relation to your own circumstances and before acting on this information.