Sunday, 2 January 2011

Positive Vision No. 2: Everyone is Avoiding Supplements

Everyone is avoiding supplements in their diet because they are getting all the needed nutrients and vitamins from whole foods.

My affirmation to use while meditating on this positive vision is: Everything's as it should be.

I often wonder why we are so gullible when it comes to supplementing our diet. Even supermarkets have shelf after shelf of pills, powders, oils and capsules that claim to boost our immune system and aid in preventing diseases. But even more worrisome is the addition of supplements to foods, for example, artificially fortifying cereals which have had the natural nutrients stripped away through processing.

Why do so many people trust in science and manmade contributions to food more than nature? I don’t, although I’m guilty of it only as recently as 2009. But this is the main reason I have an issue with propositions such as those recently brought to the attention of the Food Standards Agency's Advisory Committee on Novel Food Products and Processes. See my articles on DHC and taxifolin for details.  To me, nature is the elementary choice to rely on for healthy options.

Since this blog has taken on a Star Trek theme, I feel comfortable using Sherlock Holmes to further the discussion below because Data was so fond of him. It all just fits somehow with this issue that I thought of while reading the Yoga book selected for my Retreat!

Pan in to Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson in London.

Even Sherlock Holmes is having trouble with the mystery of the worldwide outbreak of supplementitis. After latching onto what he thinks may be a clue, Holmes exclaims:

Sherlock Holmes: It’s supplementary dear Watson!

Dr Watson: Don’t you mean ‘elementary’.

Sherlock Holmes: No, no, no, my dear man, that was in the olden days when things were simple, when a glass of milk was truly just a glass of milk.

Dr Watson: Ah, yes, you mean when it was common to get all the necessary vitamins and nutrients to keep healthy solely by eating a balanced diet of whole foods.

Sherlock Holmes: Yes indeed Watson. Now everything seems to be supplemented, so much so, that even I can’t make heads or tails of it.

Dr Watson: But even so, I wonder what set off this pandemic of supplementing food with substances, mostly artificial and unnaturally isolated food components?

Sherlock Holmes: That’s what I was just thinking of Watson. Supplementitis seems to be supplementary to a superiority complex, but I aim to find out the rest, before it truly gets out of hand!

The two men briskly exit the scene on the trail of the food supplements that waste our money and put a strain on nature.

An isolated component of food is taken out of its natural context. Nutrients are combined in complex molecules and these will unlikely ever be fully understood. 

An object seen in isolation from the whole is not the real thing” (Fukuoka, 1978).  This is why it is so important to keep our foods whole. Otherwise, we are playing Russian roulette with our health.

Even caffeine and alcohol are part of the supplementitis problem especially because they are sometimes used to replace meals! Sir Arthur Canon Doyle put it well in his short story called “The King of Foxes” which is about a young man who goes from overindulgence of alcohol to total abstinence when “reflecting what a sensitive thing this machinery of ours is, and how very foolish it is to play tricks with what is so easily put out of gear and so difficult to mend.” This is one instance where viewing the body as a machine could prove helpful!

A simple diet is the basis of a simple life, which in turn is the basis of self-development and true happiness. In order for society to progress, each person needs to contribute. This is why the supplementitis pandemic is so serious.

To further explain my observation, the plain meaning of supplement is something which completes or enhances something else when added to it, or more specifically, a substance taken to remedy the deficiencies in a person’s diet. Would it not be wiser to change the diet to remedy the deficiencies?

“No matter how hard people try, they cannot improve upon naturally grown fruits and vegetables” (Fukuoka, 1978). Scientists do not know how to make an apple. They only know how to destroy an apple or dissect individual components from an apple or rearrange the genes of an apple. If we want the nutritious benefits that can be derived from an apple, we have to eat one. No amount of supplements will do. And preferably it will be an apple that is grown according to nature’s rules.

Even a supplement that is added to a food that contains that component is not worth the material it is made of (whoever thought of it should go back to the drawing board!). For example, Vitamin C is highly praised by many for all kinds of beneficial properties. We are told that our bodies cannot produce it and it is hard to get much in a normal diet. But I fail to understand why Vitamin C is viewed in such a narrow manner. Is it not probable that any extra Vitamin C taken in the form of a tablet is merely passed through the body? Why should we support an industry that is based on the habit of popping pills rather than eating an orange, a serving of spinach or home grown sprouts?

This may seem like a minor problem when it comes to today’s industrial food products. But the underlying reason for the proliferation of supplementing food is what is truly deficient, not the potential of our diets. Before you know it, we will be encouraged to pop a pill instead of eating food (that would fit in with an efficient market). I think some people already do this. So, good luck to Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson in solving this case! Meanwhile, please join me in eating a balanced whole food diet and avoiding food supplements!

mmm .......... everything's as it should be

Photo credit:  Data as Sherlock Holmes and Geordi La Forge as Dr John Watson