Q: Do I really need to take supplements? – Jake L.
According to the National Institutes of Health, in 2004, approximately two-thirds of adults in the United States were overweight and almost one-third were obese. And today, those who are obese nearly outnumber the overweight—not because the number of overweight people has decreased, but because the weight of the average American is steadily increasing. The body mass index (BMI) determines who falls in the categories of overweight and obese. BMI is a standardized measurement of height to weight that is supposed to have a relationship to body fat and health risks. In other words, if you are in the overweight range, you have more health risks than someone in the average range.
Along with the obesity rate, the number of people diagnosed with cancer has steadily increased over the past decade, according to USA Today. And the number of people with heart disease—America’s number-one killer—is startling. The American Heart Association predicted that, in 2009, an American would have a coronary event every 25 seconds, and about every minute someone would die from one.
Why is our health slipping?
America is becoming progressively less healthy. But why are the American people getting so unhealthy? With modern medicine at our fingertips, we should be healthier than we were a century ago. But the benefits of advances in modern medicine and an industrialized world can’t counter the demise of nutritious content in the food we’re eating. Another danger is the belief that a miracle pill or a single food will heal everything. These two issues are contributing to a downward health spiral.
Should we simply sit back and watch these adverse effects make America—and ourselves—sicker? The answer is no. There is a means to an end when it comes to solving the health crisis in America. One part of the solution is dietary supplementation.
The protein shake
To fight the growing epidemic of obesity, we recommend a meal replacement shake or protein shake for individuals who are starting a healthy eating program to lose weight. The protein shake will allow you to get the energy you need to rebuild muscle after your workouts; it can also be a convenient meal when you’re on the run. Many of these meal replacement shakes have vitamins and minerals included. A supplement not often looked at to help people lose weight, but that is very effective and proven to help build lean muscle mass, is Creatine. Remember, when trying to lose or maintain weight, the more lean muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be.
Proper dietary supplementation also provides the body with key nutrients to help cells counteract harmful toxins, pollutants and free-radicals. For example, antioxidants help counteract free radicals by “absorbing the damage of the free radicals upon themselves, so that our bodies and our cellular membranes are not affected,” says holistic expert Victoria Anisman-Reiner. Antioxidants can be found in hundreds of foods and supplements.
Whole food multi-vitamins also help counteract the vitamin deficiencies that result from a lack of nutrient content in our food. An important thing to be aware of, though: our bodies need to be able to break down and digest the supplements we take, vitamins especially. Antibiotics can be a roadblock to the digestive process because they don’t only kill bad bacteria they can kill good bacteria that is used in the digestive process.
According to Kathryn Senior, PhD, the bacteria in the large intestine are responsible for synthesizing vitamin K and some of the B vitamins. Vitamin K is necessary for normal blood clotting and synthesis of proteins found in plasma, bone and kidneys, while the B vitamins are vital for cell growth, energy metabolism and digestion. Deficiencies in these vitamins can lead to heart palpitations, chronic fatigue, indigestion, heavy bleeding, osteoporosis and liver cancer. Proper dietary supplementation supplies the body with the vitamins it needs to function properly and avoid these health risks.
If I eat healthy, do I still need supplements?
Many believe that if they eat a healthy diet, they don’t need a dietary supplement. But it is nearly physically impossible to get the amount of nutrients we need through food alone, says Doctor Nicholas Perricone (as seen on the Oprah Winfrey show). Dr. Perricone said:
You may be wondering if we can control oxidative stress by simply improving our diet and eating more fruits and vegetables. This is definitely a good start. By simply eating 7 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day you can decrease the risk of heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s dementia, and cancer, two to three fold. We certainly want to supplement a good diet—not a bad diet. However, even if you eat a great diet you can barely obtain the RDA level of all essential nutrients. Medical studies have shown that less than 1% of the American population accomplishes this on a consistent basis.
So, to achieve optimal health and wellness, we believe that supplements are essential. It’s a great weapon to have in our arsenal as we fight the war against obesity. Here’s a great article about choosing a supplement that meets your needs.