Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Should You Take Supplements?

By Becca Griffith
If so, which ones? Will chewing on a rock give you the calcium you need?

In order to answer those questions we must first look at the purpose of food. Food is first and foremost a way for our body to be nourished but it is also for more. Food also is for enjoyment and pleasure, otherwise God would not have created taste buds. Food is also a way for us to connect. There are many stories in the Bible centered around food. Adam and Eve were tempted by the devil using food. In fact just look at the last supper and Jesus using food as a way to be in communion with God. God's purpose for food was definitely more than just for nourishment but that does not mean that is is not for nourishment.

According to the Oxford American Dictionary, nourishment is defined as: “The substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition.” My questions to you then; does your current diet nourish your body? What happens to our bodies when we don't get the proper nutrients? Can't I just eat junk and take a multivitamin to make sure I am getting the proper nutrients? Aren't all supplements the same? In this article I hope to help by answering all these questions.

Over the last couple of centuries, our food production practices have declined drastically. This has left us truly hungry for nutrients; real nutrient that our bodies recognize. Even those who follow a strictly organic diet may still find that their bodies aren’t operating according to the way they were designed. But why? The majority of organic farms do not practice the correct methods of rebuilding the soil, where the nutrients actually come from. Where does this leave us as food consumers? Unless you’re able to build up your own soils and grow all of your own food, you’re going to need to supplement your diet with additional nutrients.

There are three types of supplements widely available to us that people turn to in hopes of adding these additional nutrients:
• Whole food supplementation
• Nutraceuticals
• Synthetic

Many people ask if their bottles of supplements are any good. I often ask where they were purchased, what brand they are, and finally, most importantly, what are the ingredients in them?

Let’s break down the differences between the three types of supplements so you can understand what benefits or harms that may be brought to the body.

This term has become trendy more recently and is merged together from the words “nutrition“ and “pharmaceuticals.” Nutraceutical products range all over the board from being a combination of only isolated nutrients in a capsule or powder to a combination of isolated nutrients along with whole food products. It sounds like a beneficial concept at first glance. The isolated nutrients are determined by what is believed, at the time, to be a powerful component to a food or herbal substance that can be beneficial. When food substances are stripped away from all of the others nutrients it was originally grown with, this can create deficiencies elsewhere in the body. You’ll find nutraceuticals in beverages, cereals, pills, powder form, and many other forms.

Synthetic supplements
Synthetic supplements are exactly as they sound. They are forms of nutrients “duplicated” from the natural form of the original nutrient. They are often isolated nutrients, synthesized, and then highly concentrated to give the fastest “benefit” to the body. This is what you’ll find in prescription medications. Unfortunately, one may find relief in the body for the original symptom they were taking it for; however, other side effects either set in immediately or after a few weeks, months, and even years. This is because the body is using its other stored nutrients, whether from the bones, organs, fat, or tissues in attempts to digest this foreign compound that is in the body. Synthetic supplements are not only in prescription medications, but often in your local drugstore self-labeled products at that low cost “advantage.”

Whole Food Supplements
Whole food supplements are concentrated real food nutrients often in pill or powdered form. Making sure that how these supplements come to their final form are of utmost importance. How and where the food, animals, and herbs are grown are just as critical to the outcome of the product as how they are processed. Companies such as Standard Process or Garden of Life have a higher standard to their product lines and your body will know it. Standard Process is the only company in America that produces their products from seed to supplement. In other words, they raise their animals, grow their own food, and package their own supplements. No middlemen involved.

Overall, the rule of thumb is you get what you pay for. Just as we should know where our food comes from, it is equally, if not more important to know where your supplements come from.

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