Choosing Whole Food Supplements
It is sometimes necessary to add whole food supplements to your diet. When doing so make sure to do your research beforehand. The first strategy should always be to eat good nutritious food.
In order to be healthy our bodies need both macronutrients, which include fat, protein, and carbohydrates, as well as micronutrients which include vitamins and minerals. If we eat several snacks or meals a day that consist of real foods that are nutrient dense and not processed, it is likely we will get all of the nutrition we need. The best nutrition is received by consuming high-quality, nutrient dense foods.
Whole Foods Provide Complete Nutrition
Whole foods are complex; they contain macronutrients (fat, protein and carbohydrates) as well as a variety of the micronutrients our bodies need.
Whole Foods Provide Essential Fiber
Whole foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes provide dietary fiber. Most high-fiber foods are also packed with other essential nutrients as well. Fiber can help prevent certain diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and it can also help manage constipation.
Whole Foods Provide Protective Substances
Whole foods contain other substances important for good health. Fruits and vegetables, for example, contain naturally occurring substances called phytonutrients which may help protect against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
However, everyone has times in their lives where their overall health, the stage of life they are in, or their lifestyle do not allow them to eat as frequently or as high quality of food as they would like. It is during these times that taking whole food supplements may be necessary.
Adding Whole Food Supplements
The word “supplement” in general means something added.
Whole food supplements work best when they are “added” to a basic healthy diet and lifestyle.
It is important to know that whole food supplements do not replace whole food, if they did they would be called “replacements,” not supplements.
Times when when whole food supplements may be necessary include:
- During pregnancy (folic acid, omega 3s & iron)
- Battling an illness or have a medical condition that affects how the body absorbs or uses nutrients
- When food allergies don’t allow us to eat certain foods
- Being an adult over the age of 50 (B-12)
- If we live in a part of the country or the world where fresh foods are not readily available, or that have seasons when produce is less available, or does not offer the quality of food we need or we are unable to get at least 15 minutes of direct sunlight each day.
- If we have a limited diet – this many include people who don’t generally eat well or eat a limited variety of foods, which may include picky eaters who are less likely to eat nutrient dense foods; it also may include vegetarians or vegans.
- Being in a stage of our lives that is very busy so we don’t eat the way we should, either skipping meals or choosing fast food over healthier choices
Show me the Science!
When selecting high quality whole food supplements ask yourself these two questions:
- Is there science proving that the nutrients in the supplement are absorbed into the body?
- Is there science proving that the nutrients from the supplement do something good for the body once they get there?
If the whole food supplements you are taking, or are considering taking, has published scientific data that provides the information asked in these two questions, you can rest assured it is a quality supplement and is beneficial for your overall health.
Look for high quality research studies that consistently prove effectiveness. Research is considered high-quality when it is done by an independent 3rd party who are not partial to the actual product, is large in scale, and has been published in a peer reviewed journal.