By Joshua Trentine, OVERLOAD Fitness
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food
– Hippocrates summarizes my position on supplements, including the use of vitamins, minerals, herbs/botanicals, powders, shakes, bars, and sports performance supplementation. Before we look closer at legitimate health benefits of supplementation, it’s important to remember that a supplement is something added to complete a thing, make up for a deficiency, or extend or strengthen a whole. A supplement usually doesn’t provide any additional
benefit, enhancement or protective effect if there is not a deficiency.
Americans spend over $20 billion a year on supplements. Most of this money is wasted. This multi-billion dollar industry is fueled by marketing hype, unrealistic expectations, poorly applied or incomplete science, and the consumers’ thirst for the next magic pill. I would rather see that $20 billion put into small family farms, which are the backbone of a community, a nation and a society. A landscape of family farms is settled, balanced, stable, and generally sustainable. This lifestyle provides the greatest opportunity for nutrient dense food and for optimal health.
Why don’t we follow Hippocrates’ advice? That is the billion dollar question. Any and every vital element for our health or performance is or was once present in man’s food supply. In theory, we should be able to obtain any and every nutrient we need for optimal health from the food we eat; however, this is nearly impossible as our food supply has become nutritionally depleted by current food processing and farming practices.
In 1936, some astute scientists revealed that nutrients and trace minerals necessary for healthy plants were not added back into the soil by commercial fertilizers. For example, in 80 years, the amount of calcium in apples has dropped 48%, phosphorous 84%, iron 96%, and magnesium 82%. The significant drops in mineral levels and vitamin reductions are
occurring in all of our fresh food. In addition to our fruits and vegetables, the same process is happening with our chicken, beef, rice, etc.
In today’s society, we start with a nutrient depleted food supply. The food is then processed to remove the enzymes and allow for a longer shelf life. Lastly, the food is cooked and/or placed in the microwave, which further inactivates many of the nutrients and food factors. What’s the answer? Food supplements, right? Maybe, but let’s look at a few steps that should be taken prior to deciding on supplementation:
We should keep in mind the golden rule when it comes to the optimization of our nutrition supply: “how it is in nature (or its closest form) is how it should be.” The first step any concerned consumer should take to fortify their diet is to consider their food supply. Fresh produce and meats from a small organic farm or local farmers market are far more nutrient dense than frozen products in Wal-Mart.
Next, take these organically grown foods and prepare them in ways that will provide the most nutrient density. For example, one may drink a daily green juice to boost nutrient density. Remember our rule about how it is in nature? When we begin to isolate certain food parts we can’t project the
final outcome. Modern science still does not trump Mother Nature. When foods are eaten in their organic, unprocessed form, or in close concentrate form, we receive benefits of synergy, balanced nutrient profiles, and associated enzymes for proper absorption. We simply can’t dump in massive amounts of “food parts” and believe we can derive optimal benefit as this may lead to a greater imbalance in the system.
Finally, if we believe we might require a specific nutrient that has gone deficient in our food supply, use reliable lab and testing procedures before taking random supplements; more often than not this will throw the system off further. Your nutritionist or M.D. may look at blood work or even hair tissue mineral analysis before recommending a prescription of a supplement. The body is dynamic and specific needs vary based on quality and choice of foods, current metabolic/hormonal state, and the time of year. Regular testing is indicated when a person is consuming supplements as food “parts.”
For more information on supplementing your diet or specific nutrient testing, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.overloadfitness.com.