Monday, February 16, 2015

Are Whole Foods Enough? Supplement Series Part 1



You don’t have to look far to realize that Americans LOVE supplements. After all, in just 2 decades the number of supplements on the market has increased from 4,000 to nearly 70,000!! We love supplements for ourselves, our kids and even our pets. Before asking if supplements are necessary, it seems we should go back to the starting point and ask the big question:

What is wrong with the food that we eat that could require even the most healthy-eater to need a supplement?

Well, hello controversy. But, it’s my belief (and research proven) that our soils have been depleted of essential minerals that we need. In fact, numbers say that we need to double our intake of fruits and vegetables to get the same nutrients as we could 50 years ago. Dietitians suggest that active men eat 2.5 cups of fruit per day and 4 cups of vegetables per day; active women should eat 2 cups fruit and 3 cups vegetables per day. Now, I’m pretty focused on eating whole foods, but I will admit that hitting those numbers 7 days a week NEVER happens.


Let’s face it—between grab and go meals and highly processed snacks, most Americans are lucky to get 1-2 servings of NON-starchy vegetables a day (noticed I said non-starchy, so no potatoes, corn or peas).  When you go through the drive through or packaged foods, the main ingredients are most likely corn, soy and wheat. Even if those were in the UNPROCESSED forms, those 3 ingredients are pretty low on the nutrient density ladder. The fact is; our bodies don’t even recognize what we eat on a cellular level, no matter HOW many claims are made on those labels. It cares about the quality, macronutrients and micronutrients. 


In addition to eating fruits and vegetables, we also need a serving of quality protein with each meal (either animal OR plant based). Women should be eating around 20-30 grams of protein PER MEAL; and men should get about 40 grams. To round out the healthy plate, we need a daily balance of fats. Yes, FATS. That includes polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fats. No, FAT doesn’t make you fat…it’s actually required for your brain and nervous system to function properly. Not to mention keeping all of our hormones in balance.

What exactly does it mean to eat nutrient dense foods?


It means you get the most nutritious BANG for you calorie BUCK. Nutrient dense foods give you a high amount of nutrition with only the necessary calories. Spinach, broccoli, mixed berries, lean beef, chicken breasts, salmon, quinoa and even EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) are all examples of nutrient dense foods.

The sad truth is that evn if you were able to find and afford a diet of all organic (CHA-CHING) nutrient dense super foods, it is STILL likely that you would fall short on your daily micronutrient requirements.

The SAD – “Standard American Diet” – results in decreased performance, decreased immunity and a decreased quality of life. Obesity, Type 2 diabetes, increased heart disease, and an increased risk of cancer are just a few of the “side effects” from neglecting your body’s nutrient requirement.

Does this mean every person needs to go to the organic health food store and buy hundreds of dollars on well-advertised nutrition “breakthroughs?” Um, NO! In Part 2 and Part 3 we will discuss the 5 essential nutrients for occasional or regular use, as well as suggestions on how to choose those supplements.


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