We are usually encouraged to add supplements to our diet, does it mean that eating healthy is not enough to maintain health?

Question

Supplements are defined as things added to complete, enhance or make up for an inadequacy. When you think of this in terms of nutritional supplements, they are meant to enhance your health. Supplements are a natural way of boosting your immune system and a cost effective way of keeping yourself healthy.

 

Why supplements are necessary

Supplements help to transport and feed your muscles, and keep your body hormones balanced. It also helps to counter any minor or major deficiencies you may have. A common one being Vitamin D due to lack of sunlight and overuse of sunscreen.

Supplements provides anti-oxidants (like vitamins A,C and E) that we can’t get 100% from food which helps with oxidative stress and restoring balance.

There are various good reasons highlighted below why supplements are necessary even when we FEEL we practice healthy balanced diet;

Soil Depletion

Improper farming practices deplete the soil of essential nutrients. When plants are repeatedly grown on the same land, the soil loses vitamins, minerals, and microbes faster than they can be replaced. Over time, the plants have fewer nutrients to grow. Fertilizer contains just enough nutrition for the plant to survive until harvesting, but not enough to support human health. In addition, most plants are not harvested fresh. They sit on trucks, shelves, and counters for weeks before being eaten. Over time, the nutrient content of these plants decreases.

Most modern fruits and vegetables are grown to increase their sugar content, not their nutrient value. As a result, the most common fruits and vegetables are artificially high in fructose and lower in key nutrients. When plants contain fewer nutrients, the animals that eat these plants are also malnourished.

Water Depletion

Water is also depleted of minerals due to modern production methods. There is a huge variation in the mineral content of bottled and tap water, with tap water generally having more. Most water filters remove important minerals such as magnesium, which is essential for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Up until recently, clean, unfiltered fresh water was the main source of magnesium for humans. Not anymore. Our water is filtered of essential minerals like magnesium, contaminated with chlorine, and fortified with potentially harmful chemicals like fluoride.

The filtration of precious minerals from water could explain why people who drink water higher in calcium than magnesium develop more myocardial infarcts and ischemic heart disease.

Non-organic foods contain fewer nutrients

Non-organic, pesticide-treated vegetables are lower in cancer-fighting polyphenols than organic ones. This is because the plant produces polyphenols as a defense against bugs and pathogens. When there is no reason to defend themselves, the plant stops producing polyphenols and your body and brain suffer the consequences.

There is also evidence that glyphosate –herbicide – chelates minerals in crops on which it is sprayed. Unfortunately, organic is not always possible due to financial or logistical reasons. Even when you can find organic foods, they aren’t necessarily better.

Grain-fed Meat & Cooked/Conventional Dairy

Compared to grass-fed meat, grain-fed meat is abysmally low in antioxidants, micronutrients, fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins. Grains are not a food for humans or grazing animals. When herbivores are fed grains, they become malnourished, just like humans. Grain-fed meat and farmed seafood can also serve as a carrier for more toxins, which increases nutrient needs.

Raw, unpasteurized, unprocessed, full-fat dairy can be good for you, but the kind most people buy at the grocery store is not ok. The majority of nutrients in milk are found in the fat (cream). When you remove or reduce the fat, you are removing and reducing the nutrient content. Pasteurization destroys some of the nutrients in both skim and full-fat milk. Conventional dairy is also high in aflatoxin and other mycotoxins that were in the cattle’s feed.

Toxin Exposure

Your body needs nutrients to deal with toxins. When more toxins are present, you need more nutrients. If you’re living in a cave or the garden of Eden, this will be less of a concern. If you’re like the rest of us mortals – you’re exposed to a litany of toxins on a daily basis.

Here are just some of the things your body has to contend with:

  • Xenoestrogens (plastics, BPA, some molds, petroleum products).
  • Industrial solvents and cleaners.
  • Unnatural lighting.
  • Food toxins (not a problem if you’re eating Bulletproof).
  • Stress and lack of sleep.

There are hundreds of other sources of unnatural stress that increase the body’s need for proper nutrition. Even if you’re doing everything right in terms of diet – it’s almost impossible to get all of your nutrients from food.

Our bodies weren’t designed to deal with these toxins using only nutrition from food. Instead, it’s good to support detox and methylation pathways with supplements.

Nutrient Absorption Declines With Age

Several studies have shown kids need more nutrients to support growth, and older people need more nutrients due to malabsorption. As you age, hydrochloric acid and digestive enzyme production naturally declines, making it difficult for you to break down and absorb nutrients from your foods. As you age, you also often begin taking medications which can interfere with nutrient absorption. This means you need to take more nutrients in the most absorbable form possible.

Supplementation May Help You Live Longer

Aging is a natural process, but it’s not fun. If there are supplements that can delay this process, why not take them?  As long as there isn’t an undue risk of harm, it’s hard to justify avoiding a substance simply because our ancestors didn’t have access to it.  There is good reason to believe a higher intake of nutrients may prolong life.  Our hunter-gatherer ancestors may have been malnourished at certain times which is not beneficial.

Expense & Health

Whether we like it or not, sometimes supplements are cheaper than real food. In the case of something like salmon, it may be better for you to supplement with a high-quality fish or krill oil than to settle for a farmed variety. Farmed salmon is low in omega-3s and high in toxins.

Farmed salmon are higher in parasites and bacteria. In order to hide the sickly appearance of farmed salmon meat, the fish are fed a pink pigment to change their tissue color. Farmed salmon contains 16 times more PCB’s and pesticides than wild [23].  Wild salmon is often more expensive than grass-fed beef, and presents more of a health risk than benefit. Grass-fed beef has enough omega-3’s by itself, but supplementation may be a good idea for some people (like kids).

The idea that you can get all your nutrients from food is fine in theory, but virtually impossible in practice. Soil and water depletion, food and environmental toxins, poor absorption, pesticides, exercise, and lack of calories can all cause nutrient deficiencies. There is evidence that consuming nutrients from food is more beneficial than supplements, which is why you should focus on a nutrient rich diet first. However, it’s rarely enough anymore.


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