Real Reasons Why We Need Nutritional Health Supplements!
People often ask me if we really need to take nutritional supplements. The short answer is "Yes!" I recommend supplementing your daily diet with health supplements. Due to hectic lifestyles, it's difficult to consume every nutrient your body needs, every day.
Even the most health conscious person is set-up to fail because of factors beyond our control.
In essence, this is rapidly becoming a nation of nutrient-deficient citizens.
Causes of Nutritional Deficiency in this Century
Are you among millions of Americans who are considering turning to disease prevention and self-care? If so, I've waded through massive information to gather real facts, so that you won't have to. I'll address several reasons a healthy diet may not provide adequate vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
Why Soil Lacks Minerals and the Role Mineral-deficient Soil Plays in Disease
- Poor farming methods and ecological factors contribute to depletion of minerals in soil, such as zinc and selenium.
- Risks and actual incidents of heart disease escalate in areas where selenium and magnesium levels are reduced in soils.
- Scientific research supports mortality rates from cancer increase in US counties testing inferior in selenium.
- Statistics show that death from lung cancer, cervix, breast, rectum, bladder and esophagus cancer rise concurrently in counties with lower levels of selenium.
- In a report published in "The Journal of the American College of Nutrition", evidence shows reduced levels of six valuable nutrients examined in vegetables and fruits, grown in mineral-deficient soils. These include: vitamin C, potassium, iron, calcium, protein and riboflavin.
- Researchers at University of Texas reported a steady decline in vitamins and minerals in US soil from the 1950s to present.
- Broccoli is an excellent example. You and I expect broccoli to be a calcium-rich vegetable. Commercial growers are touting a hybrid version of broccoli named "Marathon". According to the USDA, Marathon tests approximately 1/3 lower in calcium and magnesium than other available hybrid versions of broccoli.
- All broccoli hybrids test around 50% lower in calcium than amounts listed in the USDA database dated 1998! You do the math!
Freshness of Food Products
You may have given little thought to methods commercial fruits and vegetables are ripened. This is a must-know piece of the puzzle in order to understand how producers manipulate Mother Nature. You are aware that in order to prevent bruising, some fruits are shipped while they are still green.
I'll use bananas as our case in point.
- From tree to table it's not uncommon for bananas to linger in a "ripening room" for days to weeks.
- Tree ripened bananas get nature's message to produce Ethylene gas at the correct time. The gas signals natural enzymes to get busy with it and ripen the bananas.
- Ethylene can be controlled in the ripening room by artificially applying this gas. While Ethylene is safe when handled by nature, when man manipulates such ripening gases, food becomes carcinogenic and potentially contains arsenic.
- Some vendors use insecticides or kerosene stoves to hasten ripening.
- Artificial ripening processes can lead to neurological disorders.
Premature Picking Results in Nutrient Loss
- A comprehensive study of cherries by Spain researchers evidenced a 50% loss of vitamin C if they are picked prematurely.
- A study of blackberries by Oregon State University researchers concluded when picked while green, the berries contained 74mg anthocyanins (antioxidant flavonoids). In comparison, blackberries ripened on the vine contained 317mg.
- Polyphenols (antioxidants from plant foods) are under-developed when produce is prematurely picked.
- Carotenoids (precursor to vitamin A antioxidants) are depleted when tomatoes are prematurely picked, as they receive inadequate sunlight.
Manure is seldom used as fertilizer these days, excepting by organic farmers. Commercial growers' dependency upon synthetic fertilizers is suspected to be a leading causative of soil depletion. Synthetic fertilizer does not contain the trace elements manure provided. Phosphates in commercial fertilizer stimulate growth, but subsequently deplete soil of valuable nutrients.
Researchers report organic produce contains appreciably higher amounts of enzymes, antioxidants and polyphenols, compared to those commercially grown.
Health Highlight to Ponder: Biofortification
Genetic modification of food poses conundrum for food growers.
In vain efforts to compensate for vitamin loss, commercial producers are forcing vegetables and fruits to generate nutrients with foreign genes. In consequence, scientists are isolating alien compounds in plants that human eyes have never seen.
Tomatoes are a prime illustration of biofortification. To counteract lower folate (member of B-complex) levels in tomatoes, commercial growers are forcing plants to ramp-up production of folate.
The fortified tomato doesn't contain PABA, which helps form folate. Their rather desperate attempt to solve the conundrum is to saturate plants with PABA. Truth really is stranger than fiction, isn't it?
Dietary bioavailability of nutrients simply means which of the nutrients existing in a particular food is available for our bodies to readily absorb and utilize. Bioavailability of certain nutrients varies in vegetables, which partially accounts for American's deficiency in essential vitamins and minerals.
In a study of participants who had eaten spinach, plasma levels of beta-carotene didn't change. This surprised me, since spinach contains 10 times the amount of beta-carotene of green peas or broccoli.
However, plasma folate levels of study participants improved considerably after eating their spinach. The degrees of folate didn't increase at all after consuming green peas or broccoli.
This proves that bioavailability of folate varies considerably in different foods. In order for the body to utilize folate correctly, it first changes folates into bioavailable form or folic acid for absorption to take place.
High-folates in foods like tomatoes or legumes may not be bioavailable.
A great deal of the time, you simply cannot expect to obtain enough nutrients from food alone.
A good example is the role cruciferous vegetables play in disease prevention. Numerous studies have shown phytonutrients contained in Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, etc. fight skin cancer, breast and vaginal cancer. But, to protect yourself from these cancers, you'd need to eat in excess of one pound of cruciferous vegetables every day!
Even if you could consume this outrageous quantity of cabbage, soil conditions enter in, causing varying nutrient levels.
Cooking and Over Processing
I've long suspected that processing, freezing and cooking could strip vital nutrients from food. But, I didn't know that the cooking process contributes to aging!
The scientific name for lost nutrients is the Maillard reaction. Cooking appears to effect milk products significantly. When milk products are heated-up, lysine levels plummet. Lysine is one of the essential amino acids. Ultimately, the Maillard reaction will decrease amounts of vitamins B1, B6, B12 as well as methionine and tryptophan.
When fresh or canned foods are processed, frozen or cooked, healthy vitamins are destroyed. For instance, during the sterilization process, canned meats and vegetables are subject to lose 50-100% of their vitamin A content. Even more shocking, all vitamin A is lost after 3-5 years in storage, according to one study. Also, panthothenic acid is reduced 50%; thiamin and niacin 25%. On the upside, folic acid Increased 50% following sterilization, but researchers allowed cooking would probably defeat the gain.
Researchers studied vegetable soup and found that after cooking it, fish, cauliflower and beefsteak didn't retain any folic acid.
Other vitamins are at risk as well. Freezing Brussels sprouts for six months reduced vitamin C by 14-32%. After boiling, vitamin C declined an additional 30-39%. In comparison with raw Brussels sprouts, the end product only retained 33-48% of its vitamin C.
Confirmed by a different study, thiamin content remaining after cooking foods such as rice or green vegetables was a mere 50-60% of expected nutrient values.
Are you nursing your infant? I was astounded to leran when human breast milk is stored about two hours, 73-79% of gluthathione is lost! Gluthathione is an essential antioxidant within body cells that neutralizes free radicals.
Poor Diet and Poor Digestion
For over 30 years, the US Government has sponsored a study to improve the health of Americans. Based on clearly defined goals and objectives, health indicators are reviewed in 10-year increments. Now that over 72 million Americans are obese, it's not a shocker to learn that improving diets lacking in fruits and vegetables is a health indicator.
However, I was shocked to find, according to "Healthy People 2010", not even one state met dietary goal requirements!
- Guidelines suggest 5 or more vegetables per day
- Only 3% of Americans eat 3 servings of vegetables per day
- Only 28% eat 2 servings of fruit per day
Among people who eat a healthy diet, 50% of Americans produce insufficient stomach acid.
This results in:
- Poor absorption rate of nutrients
- Increased inflammation
- Overproduction of harmful bacteria in stomach, such as yeast
- Bloating and pain potentially leading to depression
- Deficiencies in Vitamin B complex are often a culprit.
Negative habits, such as smoking and weight loss programs based on drastic calorie restrictions can create a nutrient deficiency. Medical conditions such as insomnia, chronic stress and hormonal imbalance are also factors.
Health Highlight to Ponder: Environmental Toxins
The Green Revolution is in full-force. I applaud your efforts to help clean-up our planet. I'd suggest that you perform an in-depth investigation about harmful effects environmental toxins pose to human health.
For example, Dr. Mark Schauss exposes numerous toxins in his book, "Achieving Victory Over a Toxic World". Of great interest to me, is a study of white-collar workers whose blood profiles were tested. Over 100 chemicals were isolated in their blood. None of these toxins existed on earth 40-years ago!
Become an avid reader of food labels. You'll routinely find MSG, sodium nitrate and aspartame listed. All are toxic substances. Pesticides are dangerous to human health. Conscious awareness is your best defense!
Consequences of Nutrient Deficiency
Health conscious people continue to buzz about a revolutionary article, which was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, volume dated 6/19/02. The article focused on how nutrient deficiencies encourage disease. Further, the authors pronounced it prudent for all adults to take vitamins to stave off chronic diseases.
- Deficiency of folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12 heightens risk for colon and breast cancer, along with cardiovascular disease.
- When vitamin D is at a low level a high risk for osteopenia and bone fractures exists.
- Compromised levels of vitamins A, C and E potentially increase risks of various chronic diseases.
Chromium deficiency is rampant in the US. Soil is depleted of essential minerals and Americans eat too many processed foods.
- regulates blood sugar levels
- metabolizes carbohydrates
- boosts insulin
- encourages fat loss and maintenance of a healthy body weight
Symptoms of chromium deficiency are comparable to those manifested by diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Taking dietary supplements should fill the dietary gap created by refined foods and mineral depletion of soils.
Experts estimate 100,000 fewer people would be hospitalized by taking a calcium supplement. Calcium is numbered among the "disappearing minerals" in vegetables.
FAQS Inquiring Minds Need to Know
Are Supplements a Viable Alternative to Diet?
Supplement is the key word here. Nutritional supplements will not replace a healthy diet - they supplement and help to balance an unhealthy diet.
If you tend to skip meals, eat junk between meals or don't choose organic foods, quality nutritional supplements are non-negotiable to promote a healthier mind, body and spirit.
According to Dr. Robert A. Rakowski, who serves as Clinic Director of Natural Medical Center in Houston, "Taking supplements in the absence of a good diet is still a poor diet with supplements."
Why Should I Eat an Organic Diet?
Even if you get your 5-a-day fruits and veggies, they were probably grown in mineral-deficient soils. The soil was likely sprayed with harmful pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. Think about it!
Chances are at least some of your fruits and vegetables were genetically modified. Research supports untold dangers lurking in fortified foods, but food producers secured FDA approval anyway.
Organic farmers rotate crops to preserve minerals and use manure as fertilizer. The soil stays packed with healthy nutrients for crops to soak-up. This results in food that is higher in phytonutrients and antioxidants.
However, the sole guarantee your food hasn't been genetically tampered with is buying "certified organic".
Is a Balanced Diet and Nutritional Supplements Enough to Ensure Good Health?
It certainly won't do harm to eat organic plant-based foods and take daily nutritional supplements. But, you are aware of the importance of keeping your body hydrated by drinking plenty of water. You're aware of health benefits of staying active. Restful sleep contributes to your total body health too.
But, enough? I'm forced to answer this one, "Not!"
Ponder this: Modern medical professionals are gradually awakening to accept as truth what holistic practitioners have taught for centuries. Very simply - you manifest what you think.
Émile Coué de la Châtaigneraie - February 26, 1857 - July 2, 1926
Coué, a French pharmacist and psychologist, developed Self Mastery through Conscious Autosuggestion. He contended the system itself was new, since it had never been practiced correctly. Ironically, he added, the idea was old, dating back to man's first appearance on earth.
Although modern spiritual teachers have capitalized on autosuggestion, Coué originally penned the affirmation still practiced today - "Every day, in every respect, I am getting better and better."
He practiced curative suggestion, which was similar to self-hypnosis, excepting his students remained awake. Coué believed any ailment, physical or mental was completely curable through conscious autosuggestion. Further, that each of us carries a force of incalculable power within to heal ourselves.
Investigate his work at your leisure. The book is public domain and you can print it from the Internet.
Bruce H. Lipton, PhD - The Biology of Belief
Lipton, a cell biologist, research scientist authored The Biology of Belief , published in 2005. This is a work I highly recommend. Lipton details how positive and negative thought patterns impact your health. He sets out to prove certain influences that form perception and belief can literally alter your genetic code. It's a matter of retraining your consciousness to create a healthy belief system.
This may be opposite of what you have learned, as most people think DNA and genes control our biology and health. You won't hear this from your medical doctor yet, but I recommend you do your own research if you want to take your health into your own hands.
Both of these pioneers made strides in helping people help themselves. They just took a different path toward the same intersection!
Why Don't I See Any Difference?
You will recall that I began with the #1 question people ask me - "Do we really need to take nutritional supplements?" Now, you've read the "middle" or concrete reasons we need take health supplements. I'll wrap-up with the 2nd most popular inquiry - "Why don't I see any difference in my health as a result of taking my health supplements?"
People have been conditioned to expect the almost immediate gratification that pharmaceutical drugs provide. Big Pharma advertises their drugs are stronger, better and faster acting.
I can't dispute the fact prescription drugs are stronger. Often, prescribed medications can be too strong and cause harmful side effects that plant-based precursors likely don't manifest.
Once you've accepted the challenge to "Think Green!" you could be setting yourself up for disappointment if you still expect instant results.
Plant-based therapy is prevention driven. Health supplements get to work immediately on the root cause of your medical condition. Natural supplements begin healing on a cellular level, where prescribed medicines concentrate on symptoms. If your condition is chronic, it likely took years to present with symptoms.
Health supplements will take longer to help the body heal itself and re-establish optimal health. Often, you will need to take more than one supplement for desired results.
For example, your immune system is probably compromised and harmful toxins have built-up in your physical body. Consider starting your regime with an herbal tonic to detoxify and strengthen your immune system.
Therefore, the question does not have one definitive answer. However, I would strongly suggest working closely with a Doctor of Chiropractic, Herbalist or Homeopathic practitioner, who is trained in herbal and holistic medicine. They can suggest the correct vitamins, herbs and minerals for your health challenge.
Food and Diet
Natural healing shines brighter on a clean and strong foundation. Be mindful, that what you eat has the power to both harm and heal. Every cell in the body needs nutritious food to perform the myriad tasks it is assigned.
For maximum health benefits, your diet should generally consist of whole, unprocessed, natural food. If at all affordable, choose organic fruits and vegetables over commercially produced and/or genetically altered.
Don't starve your body. Avoid white sugar and white flour. If you eat enough, eat often enough and eat clean, wholesome foods, you'll begin to see improvements in your health.
Then, you can incorporate nutritional supplements as preventives against disease. But, before you rush off to your local health food store and stock-up on supplements, a word about quality is in order.
Choosing a Quality Supplement
- Buy only from reliable companies. Look for "GMP" on the label. This ensures the manufacturer follows "Good Manufacturing Practices" as regulated by the Department of Health and Human Services.
- Check the manufacturer's website. Do they manufacture their own products or do they outsource to a contract manufacturer? Be aware, third-party manufacturers may not adhere to strict quality control.
- Is there clear product labeling? Look for the word "standardized" on the label.
- Do they provide a COA? This certificate of analysis is the manufacturer's guarantee that every batch of product is pure.
A Final Word
The pinnacle in self-care is a clean, healthy diet, exercise and the correct application of nutritional supplements.
Until our health professionals' raise-the-bar to include plant-based, preventative medicine, you and I must expand our consciousness. Instead of soothing symptoms, your mind can make the body heal itself better - for, as you think, so it is!