Written by Nutrition Nation nutritionist Dilal Ranasinghe.
We’ve heard some rather alarming health-related viewpoints being shared, some with far more truth than others. We have decided to do the Myth Busters series, medically validated by the marvels at Nutrition Nation, to shed light on some of the more confusing questions that crop up in a Foodie’s world, specifically regarding what is/is not true when it comes to all the delish things we may be inclined to eat.
Answer – (IN THE MAJORITY OF CASES) – FALSE
Dietary supplements are more popular than ever. From iron and calcium supplements to protein powder, fish oil, multivitamins, and amino acids, there are literally thousands of products available. Good nutrition and a balanced diet should in theory provide your body with all the vitamins and minerals required for optimal health.
So, do you really need these supplements if your diet is in check?
In an ideal world, a balanced diet should provide everything we need to stay fit and healthy. However, most people don’t have the time and knowledge needed to prepare nutritious meals that meet their daily nutrient requirements. Even those who eat healthy may have vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Active individuals, athletes, children, seniors, and pregnant women have higher nutrient requirements too. Future moms need more folic acid and zinc to prevent miscarriage and give birth to a healthy baby. Individuals with a busy schedule may miss meals and have to rely to plane food or food from the bar menu at a hotel. There is also massive drive in Hong Kong to move to organic food, grass fed meat and GMO free ingredients to ensure we maximize the nutrient intake of the food, but all this high quality food comes at a price. What if you can’t afford to buy these higher priced products or live this organic lifestyle? Are you getting what you need from the ‘balanced diet’ you currently follow?
Here some other reasons why you may not be getting all the nutrition you need from a normal balanced diet:
Depleted Soils. Even if you eat a healthy, predominantly plant-based diet with lots of fruit and vegetables, chances are good that (unless you’re consuming everything organic) the food comes from soils that have insufficient mineral content. When foods are grown over and over again in the same soils, the mineral content of that soil becomes depleted over time. This is a reason why it is so vitally important to consume organic foods as much as possible. Organic farming practices include “crop rotating” so that soil depletion does not occur. Unfortunately, even buying organic doesn’t always mean you’re going to get superior foods. Although organic soil can get depleted, buying organic remains the better, healthier choice for you and the planet!
Long Transit Time for Delivery: Have you noticed an increasing amount of produce finding its way to your grocery store comes from other countries? If you think your favorite mango or pineapple (from Hawaii or the Philippines) was just cut at its peak ripeness, then immediately boxed, rushed to the airport and shipped overnight to your favorite grocery store, you’re sadly mistaken. Sometimes, foods are picked weeks and even MONTHS before we see it on our shelves. So much for obtaining the maximum amount of nutrition! We always suggest that our clients buy as much of their food as possible from local growers to reduce transit time and improve the nutritional value of the food they’re eating.
Overcooking Our Foods. We all have a bad habit of cooking our food “to death,” resulting in a massive loss of nutritional value, meaning far fewer vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes to go around. What’s more, eating these depleted foods over time creates its own set of health issues. Cooking does significantly reduce the nutritional content of foods. As far as fruits and vegetables go, consuming them in as close to a raw (uncooked) state as possible is always the best way.
Not Eating Regular Meals. So many people skip meals. Grabbing a bagel or sandwich while drinking a coffee and rushing to work does NOT constitute a meal. You may be sitting on a plane flying to for a business meeting in Singapore, miss a meal and try making up for it later in the day or at weekends. This is not in the best interest of our bodies. It puts much undue stress on the digestive system and will eventually cause a lot of uncomfortable symptoms.
Normal Aging = Digestion Issues. As we age, our bodies produce fewer enzymes, including all the important ones needed to properly digest and assimilate the foods we eat. Eventually, this results in “common” stomach complaints, like reflux, heartburn, upset stomach and chronic constipation.
Stress + Stress + Stress = Compromised Immune System. No question, as an individual of the 20th century we all lead busy lives and some of us are busier than others! Between commitments to your family, school, work, community, faith and other obligations, our lives are more stressful than any previous generation in history. All of this stress takes a toll on your body and weakens your immune system.
Unless you are eating an organic diet in ideal proportions, the chances are that you should be taking supplements (See what your perfect plate should look like below). Taking supplements is a convenient way to supply your body with vital nutrients. The right products can strengthen your immune system, protect your heart, improve digestion, and ward off diseases. Supplements should not replace whole foods, however they should be included as part of your diet. Especially for those above the age of 30, we strongly recommend taking supplements as part of your healthy lifestyle. Please also be very careful when buying supplements as a number of the products in the supermarkets, in health shops and on-line are genetically modified or synthetic supplements, which do still provide some benefits however are not the healthiest type of supplement. Please be aware that your supplement requirements depends very much from individual to individual, however here are some of the supplements Nutrition Nation recommends to most of our customers:
- Whole food, non-GMO, natural multi-vitamin supplement (strength depends on age of individual).
- Probiotic capsules
- Omega 3 fish oil/flaxseed oil or Omega 3-6-9 combination (depends on individual).
- Olive leaf extract
Written by Nutrition Nation nutritionist Dilal Ranasinghe.
The team from Nutrition Nation can help you change your life for the better creating long term improvements in all aspects of your life. They offer nutritional counselling and lifestyle guidance for adults and their families in Hong Kong.