Whole Food? Supplements?…Both? What even is Nutrition?

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In the last ten years the dietary supplement industry has gained massive popularity. This is due to us living in the age of immediate gratification. We have gotten away from long term, consistent and quality nutrition protocols.

These days, everyone is taking some kind of supplement to cover a particular “need”. Wherever you go, there is an ad displaying a product with “x” number of health benefits. Is all this hype worth it? Is it even real?  Are these supplements the best choice for your health? Or is it just a trend that will fade away with time?

The answers to these questions are not as straightforward as one might think. You see, the dietary supplement industry has now become a multibillion-dollar market with millions of dollars spent every year to promote their products.

According to a 2019 survey conducted by the Council for Responsible Nutrition, 77 percent of Americans reported using supplements today, adding that “Among all the age groups, adults between the ages 35 – 54 have the highest usage of dietary supplements at 81 percent.”

As you can see, the number of people taking dietary supplements is enormous, and some reports estimate it is only going to increase in the future.

In this article, we will discuss the health benefits of whole food nutrition and why it is superior to using supplements.

Why are whole foods the smart choice?

Scientists and doctors are constantly debating which diet is the best or what questionable benefits of certain products are. However, one thing that all the scientific community is in accordance with is the superiority of whole foods to all other options. 

Many people consider eating Whole-foods a type of diet; however, its best to think of it as a lifestyle rather than a simple diet. Diets are often meant to be about restriction or a plan of some sort. Eating whole food is simply using actual foods to get the nutrition we need, rather than using powders or pills to supplement our diets. 

Eating whole foods carries several health benefits, including weight loss, decreased risk of heart disease and cancer, preventing age-related cognitive decline, and improving symptoms of diabetes.

The list doesn’t end here, of course. Discussing every health benefit whole foods have to offer would require an entire book. Nonetheless, the benefits listed above are the most important ones. For more information about the positive health effects of whole foods, head to this article written by The Permanente Journal.

All in all, whole foods will provide your body with all the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to avoid the need to take any supplements as long as you’re eating enough of them! (Shameless recovery post plug)

Are all supplements bad?

The short answer is no.

Some dietary supplements are essential for our well being, especially during certain medical and physiological conditions. For instance, folate supplements are absolutely necessary for women who intend to have children. 

This is because the development of the fetus requires a lot of vitamin B9 (folate), and IF the mom is deficient, the newborn may suffer from birth defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly.

The World Health Organization obliges all women in the reproductive age to take folate supplements, even if they report not having any sexual activity.

Another condition where individuals must start taking dietary supplements is cases of  decreased bone mineral density, which can develop into full-blown osteoporosis (frequent fractures) if left untreated. These individuals would be prescribed calcium and vitamin D supplements.

So far, we’ve talked about two medical conditions that require dietary supplements, but how about taking supplements for the sake of feeling good and/or prevention purposes?

In this situation, the jury is still out. Scientific papers keep finding contradicting results about the efficacy of these products.

You might read an article that claims the unbelievable benefits of one dietary supplement, and how it can help you feel better and decrease your risk of several diseases, only to stumble upon another article that denies all of this.  Some articles may even demonstrate some adverse effects to using that same product.

Therefore, it is best to avoid using any dietary supplement unless you discuss the topic with your physician or nutritionist

 

Takeaway message

Trying to sort through all the misinformation and the false claims online is no easy task. Big companies  pay a ton of money every year to mislead you into buying their products. Truthfully, almost all of the money spent on supplements each year is spent on marketing. 

Moreover, figuring out what information is trustworthy and what is completely bogus can be challenging.

Even if you succeed to isolate the scientific papers from the most reputable sources, your job isn’t over! You have to make a decision between hundreds of studies that report contradicting results about the efficacy of one product. It’s overwhelming, I know. 

So as you can see, this entire process is quite a hassle; however, you can always stop worrying about all of this and switch to eating whole foods.

One thing to be sure of is that when it comes to whole foods, no one would debate against their benefits. Let us know what you think using supplements or just sticking to whole foods in the comment section!

If you ever find yourself needing help with understanding nutrition more effectively check us out at District Athletic Club in New Haven CT. We have plenty of people within our community you could reach out to for help or hear their stories with nutrition! If you’d like, come on by and visit with us for a whole week, free!

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