03 May Why use supplements?
I am often challenged by dieticians who claim that we can get all the nutrients we need from our everyday diet. Perhaps 100 years or so ago that was possible. In our modern days of genetically modified, pesticide and fertilizer covered, hormone injected, antibiotic fed, and harvested non-ripened. Food, this is no longer possible. Place these food distortions on top of our characteristically poor lifestyle choices, and we are in desperate need of nutritional supplementation. I firmly believe that unless you are growing your own foods, you can’t possible get the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals needed to achieve or maintain great health. I remember reading years ago that the majority of nutrition found in a fruit was placed there in the ripening phase of that plant. Ripening does not happen on the truck, in your grocery bag, or sitting on the kitchen counter or in your refrigerator.
Modern medicine even embraces the concept of nutrient deficiencies. In fact, the concept of prolonged nutrient deficiencies goes back prior to what we would consider modern medicine. Sailors developed scurvy while out at sea for months on end. Why? They lack of Vitamin C in their diets. They realized that by having the sailors consume citrus on long trips they would not develop scurvy. Did they realize it was from Vitamin C? Maybe not initially, but over-time, they figured out that it was the Vitamin C in the citrus that prevented the disease. What about Rickets? Here is another condition that is triggered by a nutritional deficiency. We found out that by making sure that Vitamin D was consumed, we could prevent Rickets from even happening. These are probably two of the oldest and best examples of nutritional shortcomings.
I mentioned lifestyle choices above for a reason. Many of you might be thinking that this is related to how you eat, but this is only part of the issue with regards to lifestyle and being nutrient deprived. Yes, eating mostly refined (man-ipulated) foods is a major contributing factor for being nutrient deficient, but there are other lifestyle choices that impact your nutrition: Beverages (alcohol, sodas, coffee, etc.), medications (OTC and Prescribed), activity levels (over participation in activity-explained later) and smoking to mention a few.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these areas as it relates to nutrient depletion. (I feel compelled to prove it to you). Refined foods often have to be fortified due to the nutrients that are stripped in the process of making them. My favorite example is wheat. I am picking on wheat because as a country, we consume a ton of foods made from wheat. (Side Note: I am NOT against the use of wheat or any grain if it is used in its whole form with not additional processing done other than grinding it.)
Wheat is one of those foods mentioned in the Bible and was a staple in the diet in Biblical times. How was it prepared? It was ground between stones and then made into loaves of bread or cakes of bread. The whole grain was used. Regretfully, the wheat often used today is ground, bleached, and processed to the point where nutrients such as B-vitamins and certain minerals along with the fiber have been stripped away. Some manufacturers of flour will fortify (add back in some of these nutrients (man-made or man-extracted) their products because they realize that some beneficial nutrients have been removed. Adding them back in is NOT the same as consuming them in their original form though. We know that our Body was designed by GOD to get its nutrients from food (mentioned in my Diet section of this book). We also know that the nutrients found in foods are better digested, absorbed and utilized by the body than synthetic nutrients. The fact that we consume these man-ipulated foods and then rely on man to put them back the way they were originally occurring is not working. We are becoming nutrient deficient because of it. Add in that many people living in the modern world choose refined foods over whole (not man-ipulated) because of our fast paced and even lazy lifestyle and we have some very nutrient deprived people. The reason your body craves to eat more of these Evil foods is because it feels like it needs to eat more to get the nutrition it needs. Let’s say your body needs 40 grams of protein, and you choose a food that contains only 4 grams per serving of protein to eat. Your body will crave 10 servings of that food to get what it needs. The fact that these foods also have the ability to “numb” your off switch, and you end up eating way too much.
Beverage choices: Depending on the beverage, it will impact the digestion, absorption, conversion or retention of the nutrients needed to achieve and maintain great health. Alcohol will contribute to deficiencies in minerals and B-vitamins. With regards to cardiovascular health, these are all important to achieve and maintain a high functioning system. Yes, science has shown that moderate consumption of alcohol will benefit heart health, but the key word is moderate. 1 serving of alcohol can be heart health, but when you move on to the second serving, you now have taken something that would have been healthy and made it unhealthy. Even though 1 serving per day can be “healthy”, if you consume it at the wrong time (with a meal or supplement), it will change the pH of your stomach and therefore decrease the ability of your body to digest and absorb key nutrients. Carbonated beverages have shown to negatively impact vitamin and mineral absorption and retention. The best thing to consume is purified water. All other beverages, except herbal teas should be kept as a treat once in awhile.
Medications are an ever-growing part of our lives. It seems that if you have a complaint, the doctor has a pill for your ill. Well, along with the growing list of side effects that these drugs have, you can also develop a nutrient deficiency. Yes, you read that correctly. Let’s take a look at one of the oldest known nutrient deficiencies caused by drugs-Potassium loss from the use of diuretics. In the old days, (not so long ago actually) if you had high blood pressure, your doctor’s first attempt to lower it was by prescribing you a diuretic such as HCTZ (Hydrochlorothiazide) or furosemide. Both of these medications were effective at eliminating any excess fluid (sometimes more than excess-but don’t get me started) that might be elevating your blood pressure. One of the mechanisms of these drugs also depleted the mineral potassium. Potassium depletion would then cause other symptoms and issues within your body. In more severe cases, instead of changing your medication, your doctor would prescribe a concentrated form of potassium. (What an amazing concept!! Instead of changing your medication, let’s just add one more!!! UGH! What is wrong with modern medicine?) The depletion of potassium is a perfect example of nutrient depletion caused by medications. This phenomenon is not just limited to diuretics. Another offending drug category related to cardiovascular disease is the Statin group. Statin drugs are known to deplete CoQ10 (also known as Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol). Co10 is naturally produced by the body and is one of the leading nutrients to help in the prevention of cardiovascular health problems. I always find it interesting that with most drugs, their nutrient depletions can actually contribute to causing more problems with the system they are prescribed to help. Please don’t even get me started on Statins. This book almost ended up being just on the “Cholesterol Conspiracy” because of statin drugs.
Physical activity also affects our need to supplement. When I mention this topic in my seminars, I often get a “deer in the headlights” look from most of the attendees. People know I recommend activity as a controllable factor in managing cardiovascular disease so why am I mentioning it as a reason to supplement? My observation here is that when people exercise in excessive amounts (for some of us it doesn’t have to be excessive), we use up more nutrients and our demands for certain vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins, phytochemicals, complex carbohydrates increase. My favorite example goes back to the beginning of my book. I mentioned the man that was a marathon runner who developed cancer. How? His extreme level of activity with the lack of certain key nutrients-antioxidants in this case-exposed him to more free radical damage (to be discussed later). The free radical damage is linked to abnormal cell production (Cancer) in the body. Free radical damage can also be an issue with cardiovascular health. A decrease in antioxidants will increase the amount of inflammation in your veins and arteries and therefore increase your risk of strokes and heart attacks. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Think of your body as the automobile mentioned throughout this book, if your high performance car is running longer and faster due to increased physical activity, it will need to be serviced more frequently and refueled more frequently. If you do only one or neither of these two, your automobile will not run properly…or cease to run at all.
The bottom line here is that being deficient in a particular vitamin, mineral, phytochemical (plant chemical), (Whatever the reason) could contribute to your current or future cardiovascular state. There are an abundance of supplements that have been shown to be helpful for the prevention or management of cardiovascular disease. In order to better assist you in setting up your own supplement program, I will first mention the supplements that will benefit you. Then, I will suggest supplements for addressing either your “risk factors” or situation.