Many of my clients believe that a complement to a balanced diet is a handful of supplements. In fact, this was a myth I too believed before I became a trained Certified Nutritionist.
There are two schools of misguided thinking. One is the mistaken belief that a balanced diet will have shortcomings and that needs to be improved with supplements. This is basically the “more is better” type of thinking. Other people know they’re not eating a balanced diet, but think that it can be fixed by taking supplements instead of eating healthy foods.
Here is an excerpted version of a good blog that explains the fallacy of using supplements as a replacement for a balanced diet.
Vanessa Dixon is founder of a blog entitled Simply Natural Nessa that she created as a way to share alternative methods to achieve better health. On her blog, she explores ways we can help heal our bodies and regain a healthy equilibrium through natural means such as proper nutrition, exercise, environmental factors, and changing our mental mindset.
A Balanced Diet is Not Cured by Taking Supplements
You may have heard the phrase “you can’t out exercise a poor diet” which basically means that no matter how much exercise you do, if you’re eating nothing but junk food, you’re still going to put on weight and be unhealthy.
There’s another saying going around that it’s not possible to “out supplement” a poor diet. This is simply the idea that you can’t rely on supplements to provide your body with all the nutrients it needs while still consuming processed snack foods and other low-nutritional value products.
It’s easier to focus on improving areas we’re already good at rather than focus on bringing another area up to par. For example, many people spend hundreds of dollars on supplements each month but “can’t afford” to purchase real, organic, healthy foods and instead buy processed pre-prepared meals and snacks.
Why Supplements Have Become a Regular Part of Our Diet
Our food no longer holds the same nutritional value it did back when our ancestors roamed the Earth. They used to be able to obtain all the nutrients they needed solely from their food. However, in today’s world, food is grown using chemicals, in nutrient-deprived soil, picked before it has even been fully ripened, and then transported, kept in storage, and finally placed on supermarket shelves to be purchased by consumers. No wonder so many of their nutrients have been depleted!
But on top of this, our diets are no longer rich in natural, raw fruits & veggies, organic meats, and seafood. Many of us eat a staple diet of processed pre-made meals and snacks filled with artificial ingredients and preservatives. It’s not surprising our bodies develop so many conditions brought on by nutrient deficiencies. To help combat this issue, manufactures have fortified their food products with synthetic forms of iron, calcium, folic acid, iodine, thiamine, and many others to prevent serious public health issues related to conditions arising from deficiencies of these nutrients.
This may seem like the perfect solution, continue eating our nutrient deficient foods and just supplement our way to good health. But it’s not as simple as that.
Why Nutrients From Eating a Balanced Diet are Better Than Taking Supplements
Why can’t we just rely on supplements for our nutrient intake? Well, if you think about it, if you were to consume solely protein shakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you’d be getting plenty of protein and a few other nutrients, but what about all these other vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, etc. You’d be cutting out so many other vital nutrients your body requires to thrive.
The benefits of consuming a variety of whole foods are that they come with a range of vitamins, minerals, fats, protein, and phytochemicals. The latter are an important component in food that helps reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Vitamin and mineral supplements do not deliver the benefits of phytonutrients and other elements found in food, like fiber.
What’s more, whole foods usually contain many different forms of vitamins and minerals. For instance, vitamin E occurs in nature in 8 different forms – but supplements often contain just one of these forms.
Another thing to keep in mind is that many multivitamins and other supplements on the market may be a waste of money because many times they don’t raise micronutrient levels to the thresholds the body requires to function at its best.
There’s No Substitute for Eating a Balanced Diet
Vitamin and mineral supplements can’t replace a healthy diet, but a high quality multivitamin can help if your diet is inadequate. If you feel you could be lacking in certain vitamins and minerals, it’s far better to change your diet and lifestyle first, rather than reaching straight for the supplements. If you do need them however, ensure that you use them for just that, supplementation, not replacement of food groups, and also balance them out with a healthy, varied diet.
Click here to read the full article about eating a balanced diet rather than relying on supplements.