What is Missing From Your Diet?
October 14, 2019 at 9:59 AM
You have likely heard a lot of conflicting information about dietary supplements and nutrient supplementation. Dietary supplements include such things as vitamins, minerals, herbs, essential oils, amino acids, and enzymes. They are marketed in forms such as tablets, capsules, powders, and liquids.
When you reach for that bottle of vitamin C or fish oil capsules, you might wonder how well they’ll work and if they’re safe, maybe even if they’ll taste ok. Or you may even ask yourself whether you even need them at all.Unfortunately, even if we are following a more nutrient-dense diet full of high-quality protein, fats, and vegetables we can no longer rely on getting all of our nutrients from food. As the typical European and American diet shifts further and further away from nutrient-dense foods, nutrient deficiency is becoming a widespread epidemic. Nutrient deficiencies not only affect overall body performance, but they have been found to cause DNA damage, making you age faster, and contributing to chronic disease. If that’s not alarming enough, here are just a few more reasons to consider nutrient supplementation.
1. Digestibility - Many of the foods we eat, some of them seemingly healthy, are not easily digested. Many foods contain “anti-nutrients”, chemicals found in plants that keep your body from absorbing essential nutrients from food. The key anti-nutrients that you have to watch out for are lectins, phytates, gluten, mycotoxins, and oxalates — though not all of them are always bad (confusing, right?!). These anti-nutrients can also cause intestinal damage, which makes it even harder for your body to absorb nutrients, even after you’ve stopped eating them.
2. Low-Calorie Diets - It may come as a shock to some but consuming fewer total calories often leads to nutrient debt as it also means that you are consuming fewer total micronutrients. To meet our body’s needs, we are designed to consume high amounts of nutrient-dense calories to function on an optimal level. If we constantly restrict our caloric intake, it’s easy to become malnourished. It’s the same when we consume low-quality foods, such as processed and packaged foods and fast food, as they are devoid of any nutritional benefits. Most of those types of foods also contain high amounts of trans fats, sugars and sodium, which when combined with little to no nutrition, causes you to crave – and eat - more of them, often leading to increased weight gain. Just one more example of why food quality matters.
3. Soil Depletion - Many of today’s farming practices deplete the soil of essential nutrients. When plants are repeatedly grown on the same land, the soil loses vitamins, minerals, and beneficial microbes faster than they can be replaced. Over time, the plants have fewer nutrients to help them 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 at their peak nutritional state, but are picked before they are fully ripe. They often ripen, without any nourishment source, on boats, airplanes, trucks and store shelves before being consumed. Additionally, most fruits and vegetables today are grown to increase their sugar content, not their nutrient value. When plants contain fewer nutrients, the animals that eat these plants also become lacking in nutrients. Copper is an essential nutrient that helps to regulate several pathways in the body, including energy production and brain function. In just one example, a 2007 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Health, copper levels in the UK have dropped 76% in vegetables, 55% in meat, and 90% in dairy.
4. Water Depletion - Much of our water is also depleted of minerals due to modern methods of filtration. Most filtration systems remove important minerals such as magnesium, which is essential for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Up until about 50 years ago, clean, unfiltered fresh water was the main source of magnesium for people and animals. Now, our water is filtered of essential minerals like magnesium, contaminated with chlorine, and fortified with additives such as fluoride.
5. Exercise, Toxin Exposure, Stress, etc. - These factors can all affect nutrient absorption. Even mild to moderate exercise causes our bodies to use - and need - more nutrients for energy production and recovery. As a result, athletes are at an even higher risk of nutrient deficiencies. Our bodies also need nutrients to process and eliminate toxins. The average person is exposed to hundreds of toxins on a daily basis, from the hygiene products we use and home cleaning products, to pesticides on our food and air pollution. When more toxins are present, we need more nutrients.
6. Longer, Better Quality of Life - Aging is a natural process, but we can certainly slow down the process and look and feel better longer. There is substantial evidence that shows that a higher intake of nutrients may prolong life and increase quality of life. Several studies have shown that children need more nutrients to support energy and growth, while older people need more nutrients due to malabsorption. As we age, digestive enzyme and hydrochloric acid production naturally declines, making it difficult for us to break down and absorb nutrients from our foods. Prescription medications (often prescribed more as we age) can also interfere with nutrient absorption.
7. Expense - Whether we like it or not, sometimes supplements are cheaper than real food. Especially high quality, nutrient-dense food. In the case of something like salmon, it may be better for you to supplement with a high-quality fish oil than to settle for a farmed variety of the fish itself. Farmed salmon is low in omega-3s and high in toxins. Farmed salmon are also higher in parasites and bacteria which often leaves their flesh a sickly gray color. In order to hide the unappetizing appearance of farmed salmon meat, the fish are fed a synthetic pink pigment to change their color.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to skip food in favor of pills or powders. Consuming nutrients from whole foods is certainly the first route you should take (and tastier!), which is why you should focus on a nutrient rich diet first. However, as seen above, it’s rarely enough to reach all of your nutritional needs anymore. If you want to be healthier, supplementation can be useful for filling in gaps in your diet. As with anything, be wary of the brand of supplements you choose as quality can be compromised in some products that aren’t being tested properly or those that try to cut corners for higher profit. Although dietary supplements are regulated under the Dietary Supplements Regulations and Food Act 2014, there can still be issues with purity, strength, contamination, ingredient sourcing, and improper packaging and labeling. The Ministry of Health periodically inspects facilities that manufacture dietary supplements, but these seals of approval do not guarantee that a product is 100% safe or effective Auckland Physiotherapy and our nutrition partners have done extensive hours of research and examination (not to mention personal consumption!) and believe that the supplement range we carry, Metagenics, is the best. Here are just a few reasons why we love Metagenics:
- Over 30 years in business as a very reputable company
- Strict minimums of the number of unbiased scientific studies that are conducted on each product, which demonstrate positive effects in human clinical trials, before they will release a formulation
- They do no contract manufacture (have other larger factories manufacture their products), but create everything themselves. When companies contract manufacture, they often cut corners regarding ingredient sourcing, production, adding fillers, etc.
- Any raw material they source is tested for efficacy, cleanliness, therapeutic benefits, and stability. In companies that do not do this, often beneficial properties of a particular ingredient may be destroyed due to poor shipping or storing conditions, or destroyed before they even get to the end product
- Products formulations are optimized for absorption
- Second- and third- party testing to ensure standards of quality and efficacy
- Facilities are monitored for sterilization as well as proper handling, proper sealing of products, and proper shipping conditions, including sunlight and temperature
- All products are Gluten Free, not all are vegan but those that aren’t will say on the bottle
Although dietary supplements don’t work like pharmaceutical drugs, which can often simply mask symptoms, they do have strong biological effects in the body. Schedule a free 15 min phone consultation with our physio Michelle Hermanta to discuss your specific requirements and which supplements might be beneficial for you. Click HERE to book.