Natural Health Products-the Intelligent Choice PDF  | Print |  E-mail
By Cory Holly

Do you think you get all the nutrition you need from food alone? Many people believe this notion despite the fact that no study has ever confirmed it, especially not when it comes to the standards we need to achieve optimum health. What do you need to be healthy? First, let's examine the question itself. In scientific studies, the term need generally means what the body must have to prevent diseases, as opposed to what it must have to enhance quality of life, optimize energy balance, attain ideal body composition or maximize peak physical performance. So technically, when someone says, I get everything I need from food in the context of preventing classical disease, they may be right.

How many times have you heard someone say that they get everything they need from food, yet it's obvious by looking at their skin, body composition and overall appearance that they are definitely lacking in some or many of the basic ingredients for health? Yes, it's true, they don't appear to be dying from scurvy or going blind due to a deficiency of retinol (vitamin A), but this still doesn't mean they are truly well.Wellness is much more than an absence of disease. True health is the presence of function, which can be measured and compared to an optimal or sub-optimal standard.

I can tell you this much for certain: I've never seen anyone come close to receiving optimal amounts of essential micronutrients from food alone, day in and day out. I base this statement on extensive evaluations of thousands of dietary profiles. This includes evaluations of people who eat health foods (including organics) and engage in strength training. Instead of creating reference standards that make the weak, tired and overweight look okay. I prefer to use standards that make the strong, high energy, lean and muscular look normal.

Hundreds of surveys and clinical investigative studies, performed in dozens of countries by various specialists in complimentary medicine prove that our population is suffering from simple dietary deficiencies that cause malnutrition. We are deficient in trace elements, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. The correlation between this reality and the high incidence of degenerative disease is undeniable.

Most people find the discipline associated with eating well an incredible challenge and for most athletes committed to sport and exercise, diet is by far the weakest link. Why? Because it's easier to train physically once you're committed to than it is to eat with the same devotion and discipline. It's also extremely difficult to apply something you don't know, appreciate or thoroughly understand.

By analyzing thousands of diets presented by athletes, men and women troubled by health concerns and people who want more than baseline health, I have yet to find anyone not lacking in at least one or several of the essential micronutrients that the body needs, especially minerals. And mineral nutrition is just one of several variables related to diet that influences your health, function and resistance to disease. Once you get into things like glycemic indexing, the biological value of protein, water consumption, prescription drug use, omega 3 and 6 ratios or the concept of acid and alkaline balance, it not only gets much more complicated, but it also becomes obvious that most of us are incredibly off track when it comes to eating correctly.

How many of us actually know how much selenium or zinc we have obtained in any given day or week? How many of us are aware of where these trace elements are found or what they even do? How much zinc is required to maintain a healthy prostate or prevent infection? How about your iron profile, ladies? Are you satisfying your biological demand or are you slowly creating a massive deficit of ferritin?

Yes, you can get a food almanac and calculate an estimate, but this standard doesn't take into account where your food came from, how it was prepared, how well you digested it, the state of your gastrointestinal health or your metabolic uniqueness. Suffice it to say that each person is genetically unique and that each of us requires different quantities of the same nutrients to function in a state of wellness.

For example, from the viewpoint of genetics, imagine the possibility that some individuals require specific amounts of magnesium beyond what any diet could supply. Without sufficient magnesium, these individuals can't fulfill the equation of life and energy, and their bodies will create symptoms that are often eventually treated with prescription drugs. What if many of the cases of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, mental illness and problems with thyroid function we see in North America are actually caused by insufficient micronutrient supply as opposed to a germ, virus or bacteria? Or maybe due to incomplete nourishment or exposure to immunization and antibiotics as children we're simply set up for chronic illness? Most of us assume that the nutrients we need are present in our food to the same degree as the text references say they are but this is wishful thinking. Variance in the micronutrient density in food obtained from different regions of the world is a scientific given. Without actual chemical analysis, it’s impossible to know for sure what's actually in food. In other words, you can't tell by looking at a tomato if it contains any chromium, molybdenum or vanadium. Let me give you a hint: if it isn't organic it probably doesn't.

How can our food base possibly give us everything we need for wellness if the soil upon which it is grown is infertile, eroded and stripped through years of forced mass production? Without selenium or chromium in the soil, there won't be any selenium or chromium in the asparagus or spinach grown on that particular soil. Plants and people can't create minerals out of thin air.

Based on the current science of nutritional pharmacology and our lack of a reliable food supply, it makes perfect sense to supplement the diet. Getting everything you need from food alone is possible, but only in the context of achieving the lowest possible standards of life. Even the very best food choices cannot compete with what vitamin C, E and lipoic acid supplements can achieve against Sick Building Syndrome, smog, second hand smoke and the chemical toxicants in our water supply.

When livestock are raised, additional quantities of nutrients are added to their feed. Why? Because fortified food protects these animals against deficiencies, increases their production yield and reduces profit loss due to infection and stress. This is scientific fact and yet when it comes to the human animal, dietitians and medical experts somehow believe that we're exempt from the same laws of cause and effect. Our budgies eat better than we do, yet all of the animal care experts I’ve met still recommend extra vitamins in addition to a budgie: ideal diet of distilled water, millet and raw seeds! And let's face it:our budgies don't smoke, snack on junk food or sit in front of a computer for hours on end like we do.

By the way, you don't have to believe in dietary supplements to benefit from them anymore than you have to believe in the force of gravity to be impacted by it. Belief in anything does not necessitate or imply actual truth. More often than not in the realm of nutrition, people rely on what they've heard rather than what they've actually studied. Do your research and take care of yourself. Your body will thank you.

Cory Holly

Cory Holly, CHFA Ambassador of Sports Nutrition, Health and Fitness and Chairman of the CHFA Sports Nutrition Advisory Council, is the author of the CHFA home study Certified Sports Nutrition Advisor Education Program. He also narrates SPORTS NUTRITION UPDATE,™ a unique educational monthly subscription audio-cassette publication, specializing in fitness, nutrition, anti-aging and human performance. Cory Holly, CHFA Ambassador of Sports Nutrition, Canadian Masters bodybuilding champion and world class Masters track and field athlete, is also the author of the new CHFA Certified Sports Nutrition Advisor (CSNA) Education Program. For more info, please visit www.chfa.ca or www.coryholly.com.

This article has appeared in, and is supplied courtesy of  VISTA Magazine

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