If you’ve stepped foot into a health food store, or even the pharmacy or grocery store, you’ve likely been faced with endlessly available supplements, ranging from multivitamins to meal replacements. It’s no wonder people are confused.
Are they necessary? Which are effective? How do you choose and what do you need? There are many factors to consider in the quality of supplements. There are different forms of a vitamin, added binders, and fillers to be considered. With this in mind, I am often tempted to encourage my patients to focus on dietary sources for their nutrition, but the Standard American Diet (SAD – how ironic) is moving further and further away from the consumption of high-quality, nutrient-dense, balanced diets. Combine this with poor farming practices, nutrient deficiencies are not shockingly becoming a widespread epidemic.
Nutrients play a central part in metabolism and the maintenance of tissue function. Deficiencies can lead to concerns such as poor immune function, DNA damage, contributing to accelerated aging, increased risk for chronic disease like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and obesity, and suboptimal cognitive function. Not to mention the more superficial concerns of weak hair and nails, and wrinkles.
Here are some reasons why you should take a second look at your diet; not only what you’re eating but where your food is coming from, and consider supplementation:
1. Farming Practices
a) Soil Depletion: The choice technique of industrial farming is monocropping: growing only one crop in a large area of land. When the same plant is grown repeatedly on the same land, the same nutrients are in demand and soils become depleted of their nutrients. When this happens, crops absorb less, and we consume less. family medicine | chiropractic/active release technique | psychology | physiotherapy acupuncture | registered massage therapy | naturopathy | orthotics | osteopathy | vitamindrip health link reinventing health care | email@example.com | adelaideclinic.com | august 2017
b) Non-Organic: Foods treated with pesticides stop producing polyphenols which is what plants use to defend themselves against pathogens. In humans, polyphenols are strong antioxidants that help protect us from free radical damage therefore slow the rate our body ages, reduce risk of heart disease, cancer, and alzheimer’s disease.
c) Industrial Farmed Meat: Grain-fed meats are common in industrial farming. When compared to grass-fed meat, grain-fed meat has less micronutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fatty acids. Industrial farmed meats and seafoods also carry higher levels of toxins which can increase need for nutrients.
d) Importing: Most grocery store plants aren’t harvested fresh. They travel great distances before they reach our plate, having them sit on trucks, shelves, and counters for weeks. This requires them to be picked before they’re ripe and able to reach optimal nutrient density and even decrease over time.
2. Water Depletion
Water can also be depleted of minerals. There are huge variations in mineral content (we often notice this as the flavor of water). Tap water tends to have more minerals than bottled because filters remove minerals including magnesium.
3. Standard American Diet
The SAD, the typical diet of Americans, is high in meat, dairy, fat, sugar, refined, processed, and junk foods and low in fruit and vegetables. Did you know that it’s recommended to have ideally 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day? It’s rare the majority of people meet even half that. This style of eating is void of nutrients, high in ingredients that increase inflammation and cause tissue damage further reducing nutrient intake, and creates an acidic environment in the body that leaches nutrients from the body increasing disease risk.
With aging comes a decrease in stomach acid and digestive enzymes, making it more difficult to breakdown foods and absorb nutrients.
One of the keys to optimal health. However, if you’re doing more exercise, more nutrients are in demand for energy and recovery, and can deplete stores of nutrients. The take-home message is that in theory, we should be able to get all the nutrients we need from food, but in practice, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult. It’s more realistic to consider what’s reasonable for you (eating local, organic, meal prepping, etc) and what’s not, and find a balance between your diet and what supplements you take to live a long and healthy life.
Article by by Dr. Cristina Allen, Naturopath