Nutritional Health Supplements: Are they hyped or do they really work? And if they work, here are the real reasons why you need to take them
With more Indians becoming health-conscious, one common question that many ask is “if we really need to take nutritional supplements?”
The short answer to this question is “Yes!”
And its not just due to our hectic lifestyles, lot of it is because of things beyond our control.
- 1 What is Causing Nutritional Deficiency Among People
- 2 Cooking and Over Processing
- 3 Weaker Immune System Among Kids & Adults
- 4 Poor Diet and Poor Digestion
- 5 Environmental Toxins in our Food
- 6 Consequences of Nutrient Deficiency
- 7 Eat Organic Diet if Possible
- 8 Go for Balanced Diet and Nutritional Supplements
- 9 Why People Don’t Trust Nutritional Health Supplements
- 10 Why Don’t I See Any Difference After Taking Health Supplements?
- 11 Tips for Finding the Best Health Supplements
- 12 More Popular Posts:
What is Causing Nutritional Deficiency Among People
So what is causing nutritional deficiency among people, not just in India but through out the world? There are several reasons why your seemingly healthy diet may not provide you with adequate vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
- Pollution is one of the biggest concerns in major cities in India that is weakening the immune system of most people
- Poor farming methods, use of fertilizers and other ecological factors are contributing to the depletion of minerals (such as zinc and selenium) in soil.
- Your food is not as fresh as it is made out to be. Artificial methods are used to ripen fruits and vegetables (with good commercial demand).
- Studies have also revealed that premature picking of fruits & vegetables results in nutrient-loss.
- Farmers seldom use manure nowadays, they chose to use fertilizers instead, except in the case of organic farming.
- Organic food contain much higher amounts of enzymes, antioxidants and polyphenols, compared to those commercially grown, but organic food is much more expensive in India.
Indian cows are producing toxic milk because they are grazing on garbage…
Cooking and Over Processing
This is where most Indians are doing it wrong.
Over cooking, over heating (and that too heating the same food several times) removes vital nutrients from the food. The scientific name for lost nutrients is the Maillard reaction (you can read more on the topic).
- Cooking appears to effect milk products significantly
When milk products are heated-up, lysine (essential amino acids) levels fall down. Heating it again and again decreases amounts of vitamins B1, B6, B12 as well (due to the Maillard reaction) as well as methionine and tryptophan.
- Cooking reduces nutrients
A study says thiamin content was a mere 50-60% of expected nutrient values after cooking foods such as rice or green vegetables. Thiamin is a B complex vitamin that helps the body produce energy, and metabolize fats and protein.
Researchers studied vegetable soup and found that after cooking it, fish and cauliflower didn’t retain any folic acid.
- Canned foods lose nutrients
When fresh or canned foods are processed, frozen or cooked, healthy vitamins are destroyed. Here are some examples.
During the sterilization process, canned meats and vegetables can lose up-to 50-100% of their vitamin A content. Also, panthothenic acid is reduced 50%; thiamin and niacin 25%. While folic acid Increased 50% following sterilization, researchers say cooking would probably defeat that gain too.
- Human breast milk and storage
New mothers will be shocked to know that human breast milk stored even for about two hours results in loss of 73-79% of gluthathione. Gluthathione is an essential antioxidant within body cells that neutralizes free radicals.
Weaker Immune System Among Kids & Adults
In general, more and more people in India are feeling lethargic all the time, and have weaker immune systems.
- Every year, whenever the weather changes in India, especially in major cities like Mumbai, you can expect kids to have cough, cold and even high temperatures.
Doctors blame it on their weaker immune system.
- In most kids, coughing is more frequent and doesn’t dependon on the change in weather. And that’s because of the several construction projects that are going in major cities in India, as a result of which there’s lot of dust in the air, causing the kids to suffer from cough more frequently.
- In the case of grown-ups, ageing causes issues like weaker immune system and calcium deficiency (in case of women, that happens during menopause as well)
Poor Diet and Poor Digestion
We all know that fruits and vegetables are important part of any diet, but very few include them in their diet (in the right proportion).
- Many eat just 1 vegetable every day (many eat rice-daal both the times)
- Most don’t eat fruits every day
People are also not producing enough stomach acid to aid in digestion. This results in:
- Poor absorption rate of nutrients
- Overproduction of harmful bacteria in stomach, such as yeast
Smoking, alcohol, drastic calorie restrictions (for weight loss), medical conditions such as insomnia, chronic stress and hormonal imbalance can also create a nutrient deficiency.
Environmental Toxins in our Food
We already know that fertilizers are used for growing crop, fruits & vegetables. Chemicals are used to ripen popular fruits.
Dr. Mark Schauss exposes numerous toxins in his book, “Achieving Victory Over a Toxic World”. He talks about a study of white-collar workers whose blood profiles were tested. Over 100 chemicals were isolated in their blood. None of these toxins existed on earth 40-years ago!
Just take a look at the food labels and you’ll routinely find terms such as MSG, sodium nitrate and aspartame listed. All of these are toxic substances. Pesticides are also bad for human health.
Identifying artificially ripened mango:
- Put mango in a container with water
- If it sinks to the bottom, it has been ripened naturally
- If it floats, it has matured with the help of calcium carbide
- Chemically matured mangoes also have distorted wrinkles on the skin
- They also taste different and have a pungent odour
Consequences of Nutrient Deficiency
Coming to the consequences of nutrient deficiencies (most of which is experienced by most Indians):
- Deficiency of folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12 heightens risk for colon and breast cancer, along with cardiovascular disease.
- When vitamin D is at a low level a high risk for osteopenia and bone fractures exists.
- Compromised levels of vitamins A, C and E potentially increase risks of various chronic diseases.
- Most symptoms of chromium deficiency are comparable to those shown by diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
That is why doctors are recommending dietary supplements that can fill the dietary gap created by refined foods and mineral depletion of soils. Most doctors nowadays say its prudent for all adults to take vitamins to keep away chronic diseases.
Calcium is among the “disappearing minerals” in vegetables. Experts say adults can avoid getting hospitalized by taking a calcium supplement.
In general, minerals in supplements help to:
- Regulate blood sugar levels
- Metabolize carbohydrates
- Boost insulin
- Encourages fat loss and maintain a healthy body weight
Eat Organic Diet if Possible
Even if you get your 5-a-day fruits and veggies, they were probably grown in mineral-deficient soils. The soil was likely sprayed with harmful pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers.
Besides, the fruits and vegetables that we get could also be genetically modified.
Organic food (use manure as fertilizer) have higher healthy nutrients, such as phytonutrients and antioxidants. But again, you canonly be sure if your food hasn’t been genetically tampered with is buying “certified organic”.
In India, however, Organic food is a bit expensive, and its also not easily available.
Go for Balanced Diet and Nutritional Supplements
Its important to stay active, keep your body hydrated (by drinking plenty of water), and to get sufficient sleep to have good body health.
In addition, its important to eat a balanced diet (plus and daily nutritional supplements).
Remember the word ‘Supplement’ here, Nutritional supplements will not replace a healthy diet; they supplement and try to balance an unhealthy diet.
You also need to remember that Nutritional supplements won’t help if you skip meals or eat junk food frequently (vada-paav, gol-gappa’s burgers, frankie’s, etc).
“Taking supplements in the absence of a good diet is still a poor diet with supplements.”
For maximum health benefits, include whole, unprocessed, natural food in your diet. Avoid starving your body. Avoid white sugar and white flour. If you can afford, eat organic fruits and vegetables (over commercially produced and/or genetically altered).
Once you start eating right, you can incorporate nutritional supplements as preventives against disease.
Why People Don’t Trust Nutritional Health Supplements
Lot of people in India are taking health supplements nowadays (although percentage-wise its still a minuscule number.
There are many who are still staying away from Nutritional Health Supplements for the following reasons:
- They feel its expensive (and they’re not sure if these are really effective. Most members in the family (especially the elderly) think that money spent on health supplements is wasted, and they hate wasting money.
- Many feel they are over-hyped (heard about the Placebo effect?).
- Many think a lot of marketing gimmick is involved in the sale of these supplements.
- Many feel those who prescribe these are not knowledgeable enough, or the product themselves exaggerate their benefits.
As a result, the subject of health supplements has become highly controversial as well.
Having said that there are several reasons to including health supplements, the most obvious being that it can improve your health immensely.
However, with all the marketing noise out there, you have to first understand the real issues (which we have explained in this article), before you can appreciate the value and effectiveness of health supplements.
Why Don’t I See Any Difference After Taking Health Supplements?
We have already answered the commonly asked question “Do we really need to take nutritional supplements?”
Now, here comes another popular question – “Why don’t I see any difference in my health even after taking health supplements?”
Many ask this question very soon, because they’re not sure if their money is being spent rightly.
The short answer to this question is that health supplements do not work like pharmaceutical drugs (no instant relief or gratification).
While drugs focus on symptoms, plant-based therapy (supplements) is prevention driven.
Natural supplements begin healing on a cellular level, and therefore takes longer to help the body heal and get it back to optimal health. Often, you will need to take more than one health supplement for best results.
Harmful toxins already exist within our physical body. So you may start by taking an herbal tonic to detoxify and strengthen your immune system.
Its advisable to visit a Chiropractic, Herbalist or Homeopathic doctor, trained in herbal and holistic medicine, so that you can take the correct vitamins, herbs and minerals that will help you get a healthy body.
Tips for Finding the Best Health Supplements
Health supplements can help you overcome serious health problems like arthritis (and even cancer) but you have to become knowledgeable on this subject.
- Be aware of your health challenges
- Find out which nutrients aids healing
- Try consuming healthy foods to start with, in order to boost lacking nutrients
- Track what supplements improves your health, avoid wasting money on supplements that aren’t helping you.
- Choose reputable suppliers to buy health supplements
Here you will find information on how to overcome health challenges like arthritis, allergies, hormonal imbalances, or even aging.
But remember, when it comes to good health, the best way forward is a clean, healthy diet, exercise and the correct use of nutritional supplements.