SHOULD YOU GET YOUR NUTRIENTS FROM FOOD OR SUPPLEMENTS?

SHOULD YOU GET YOUR NUTRIENTS FROM FOOD OR SUPPLEMENTS?

It’s no secret that in today’s world the overall quality of the food that we eat has eroded to a point where many turn to supplements to find the nutrients that our bodies need to operate. However, supplements are rarely your best option for optimal nutritional health. It is easier and more convenient to take supplements, but in most cases, supplements are artificial and do not provide the same benefits that eating natural, fresh, and unprocessed foods does. 

For thousands of years, the earth has provided every living creature with all of the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that were needed to survive. Over the last century, our relentless quest towards convenience has industrialized, supersized, and automated our agriculture to feed an increasingly demanding population. 

Whenever possible, It is more beneficial to your overall health to get your nutrients from an organic and sustainable source than from a daily vitamin or mineral supplement. That being said, supplements are not all bad. If you have a serious dietary restriction that stops you from being able to eat food with a specific nutrient, It could be beneficial to take supplements. For example, you have an extremely sensitive digestive system that is unable to absorb fruit. In this case, You might consider taking a Vitamin C supplement. 

“Getting our nutrients straight from a pill sounds easy, but supplements don't necessarily deliver on the promise of better health. Some can even be dangerous, especially when taken in larger-than-recommended amounts.”- Harvard Women’s Health Watch, Harvard Medical School, January 2013 

ABOUT SUPPLEMENTS 

We have grown increasingly reliant on supplements for our nutritional needs, products have evolved to offer many  “benefits” to our health and wellbeing. New supplements are created every single day and there is a seemingly endless supply of “Amazing Products that will change your life!” When considering supplements, it is important to keep in mind that you are putting a relatively unknown substance in your body. This can possibly lead to bad reactions and a negative response from your immune system. 

 

Quality

In order to work properly, supplements must have a high level of bioavailability. Bioavailability is the level of a substance that is released into circulation in the body and is the primary measure of how effective a substance can be. Because of the extremely high number of supplements, It can be challenging to verify the quality of a specific product. Any time that you choose to put any medication or supplement in your body, We would highly recommend that you take the time and research and understand the product as much as you can. When it comes to vitamin and mineral supplements the best rule to follow is “buyer beware”.

Long term effects

Over a long period of time, a lack of vital nutrients can be detrimental to your physical, mental, and emotional health. When it comes to your energy level, happiness, and overall health, diet is one of the most important factors. If you choose to eat healthily and exercise regularly you will improve your health. But if you don’t take care of your body, It won’t take care of you. 

Who can use Supplements?

 In most cases nutrition supplements would be primarily used by more sensitive members of the population. Nutritional supplements are often used by the elderly members of our population and also children who may have trouble digesting some food. But, as I said before, it will always be more beneficial to get these nutrients from food and avoid supplements if possible. 

Side effects

Supplements can have many side effects ranging from minor headaches and indigestion to more serious problems like extreme weight loss or gain, and stress on internal organs.  In many cases, supplements are regulated differently than traditional medication and some supplements have no certifications or clinical tests whatsoever and come from unknown sources. In the nutritional supplements space, there is also the potential for products to come from sellers with no health background and from generic manufacturers. Just a quick search on Amazon will provide over 4,000 results from hundreds of different manufacturers with vastly different ingredient lists. 

THE FOOD WE EAT AND THE NUTRIENTS IT PROVIDES 

The problems with processed food

Processed food is the primary reason for the modern world’s increasing demand for supplements and products that improve nutritional health. As food products get more and more processed our health declines. Nowadays, the focus is on making as much food as possible with little attention is given to how healthy and useful to the body that food is. This is especially true in the United States, Our food is mass-produced and treated with lots of chemicals and artificial products that decrease the overall quality of the food. 

Aging and nutrient absorption 

As the human body ages, some normal functions can be impaired. One of those functions is the digestive process. If you’re unable to properly digest and receive the nutrients that your body needs to survive, supplements may be a good option for you. 

Beneficial nutrients

There are many different nutrients that the body needs and some of them are not easy to get in sources other than food. In modern times, there are literally supplements for every nutrient you can think of, but some are far more beneficial than others. A great example of this is Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is found in animal products so vegans and people with a plant-based diet will need to take a supplement for it. Vitamin B12 is also affected by medication for chronic heartburn and this can lead to a deficiency. 

Suppose you’ve been eating healthy for a while and you don’t see any difference. Your body could still be lacking vital nutrients, so what do you do? You might start taking supplements,  but what if you still don’t see a difference?  Maybe your body just isn’t able to process the nutrients you are giving it

Changes to your lifestyle and eating healthy are positive steps to better health.  However many other factors can also affect your health, stress, depression, anxiety and major life events can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.  . It is important to consider your own situation and ask yourself what other problems in your life could be causing these issues for you. Your body’s overall health and wellness is attributed to many factors and diet is a very big piece, but the whole pie. 

HOW TO NATURALLY BOOST NUTRIENT ABSORPTION 

Symptoms of poor nutrient absorption 

Fats

If your body is low on Fats, You will find that your stool is light-colored, soft, and bulky.

Protein 

A lack of protein in the body can cause hair loss, dry hair, and bloating. 

Sugars 

Having a severe lack of natural sugars in your diet can also cause bloating, Flatulence, and Diarrhea.

Vitamins 

Not having the right amount of vitamins in your body can lead to anemia, malnutrition, extreme weight loss, and can stunt growth in children and limit muscle building in adults. 

 

Factors that negatively affect nutrient absorption- 

You can naturally boost your nutrient absorption by following a few simple rules… 

1. Eat a variety of food- It is extremely important to eat a variety of different foods. If you eat chicken and rice every day, your body will not receive all of the nutrients that it needs to operate optimally. Most nutritionists recommend a balanced diet eating something different every day. Proteins are essential, and it is beneficial to eat a variety of different meats from the land and the sea. Don’t forget about plant-based protein, that works too!

2. Take Vit c with iron- Two of the most important nutrients to the body are vitamin C and Iron. Vitamin C is found in many different fruits and is especially abundant in citrus fruits. So, Citrus should be an essential piece of any diet. Iron is also similarly easy to find in natural “real” food sources. High levels of iron are found in Seafood, Red meat, and some dark green leafy vegetables. Beans are also a good source of iron. 

3. Eat healthy fats- One of the biggest misconceptions is that all fat  is bad and that you should avoid it altogether in your meals. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Fat is another extremely essential nutrient that our bodies need. But, this essential fat is not consumed by eating “fatty” foods like potato chips, Big macs or fried onions. The best fat is found in animal products and some vegetables. For example, Avocados are 77% fat, Which makes them a great source of natural “good” fat. 

4. Probiotics-Probiotics are “good” bacteria. Probiotics help your body to ward off disease and strengthen your immune system against potential threats. Probiotics are found in Yogurt, some cheeses, and pickles. You can also consume probiotics by drinking Kombucha which is fermented tea. 

5. Less caffeine & alcohol- Even if you’re doing everything else right, you need to keep your consumption of alcohol and caffeine down to a minimum to stay healthy. As someone who understands the allure of a hot cup of coffee every few hours, I can sympathize with you. But the human body is not equipped to deal with excessive amounts of stimulants like caffeine or depressants, like alcohol. A high intake of either can be extremely bad for your health and happiness. 

6. Less stress- Avoiding stress is probably the hardest thing on this list to achieve. For many people life is hard. Unexpected things happen, changes happen and events we are unprepared for occur. These hardships cause stress. Everyone has been stressed at many points in their lives. This stress can cause your body and digestive system to not operate at full capacity. While it’s impossible to avoid stress entirely, It’s important to avoid stressful situations whenever possible and try to live your life as positively as you can. 

7. Hydrate- Drink lots of water. This one should be self-explanatory. But, a glass of water is one of the easiest ways to feel better. If you feel terrible, In most cases, a glass of water will at least make you partially feel better. a glass of water is refreshing, tasteless, and takes 10 seconds of your time.

 

So are supplements good to take?  The answer is “well, it depends”.  If you simply cannot meet your dietary requirements because of illness or allergies (or some other reason) supplements may be needed.  The best option is to always eat as many unprocessed foods as possible,  making sure to eat a wide variety of foods to get a wide variety of nutrients.  Not sure if your diet is nutritious enough?  A quick trip to the doctor can let you know exactly what the problem areas in your diet are.  Nutritionists and dieticians are also excellent sources of information.

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