Sunday, April 25, 2010

Are Supplements Really Necessary - Steven Horne

Many years ago I was helping out a friend who suffered from severe emotional problems. I gave her some free herbs and supplements, which were helping to balance her nervous system and regulate her blood sugar. Unfortunately, when she was admitted to the psychiatric hospital, her doctor confiscated them and threw them away.
According to her, her doctor said, "Don't waste your money on supplements. You can get all the nutrition you need from a McDonald's hamburger, milk shake and French fries." I was amazed by this. If he had said, "You can get all the nutrition you need from a well-balanced diet," I might have given him some credit, but as the movie Super-Size Me proved, no one can be healthy on a diet of fast food.
But it does beg the question. Are supplements really necessary? Can you really get all the nutrients you need from a well-balanced diet? Of course you can. Dr. Weston Price found that native people living on traditional diets were extremely healthy and rarely got sick. However, all the animal food they ate were from wild animals and they ate organ meats (brains, heart, liver, glands, etc.) not just muscle meat. Furthermore, their diets contained plant foods that we think of as medicinal herbs (like dandelion, burdock, chickweed, etc.).
So, can you really get all the nutrients you need from a modern supermarket diet? Probably not. Most of the fruits and vegetables are 14-days old and have traveled an average of 1,000 miles to reach the produce section. That's enough time for huge nutrient losses to occur. Even the organic meats, eggs and dairy products aren't the nutritional equivalent of their wild-caught counterparts, and the commercial animal proteins are extremely lacking.
And, this is the real food we're talking about. Most people are eating heavily processed foods. There is no way that this food can provide all the nutrition the body needs to be healthy. It's a major reason why we have huge problems with obesity, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, cancer and the other serious health problems that plague most modern people. Native people living on traditional diets didn't have these problems!
So, even if you're eating real, whole foods, it doesn't hurt to supplement a little. Here are the seven basic types of supplements I find most people benefit from. I think investing in some of these supplements will do more good for your health than the new "health insurance" legislation passed in Washington this week. These supplements are real health insurance, especially when coupled with a good diet and other healthy lifestyle practices.
You don't need to use all seven of these supplements. Pick the three or four that are most appropriate for you.
SuperFood Supplement
The first thing most people think of when they think supplements is a multi-vitamin and mineral. If you want to take one, that's great, but I personally don't do well on them. What I do like are whole food supplements like GreenZone and the new Collatrim protein powder
I also like herbal supplements like HSN-W, I-X and other formulas of nutrient-rich herbs. I find the body assimilates and utilizes the nutrients from these whole foods better than vitamin and minerals supplements. I use specific vitamin and mineral supplements more like "natural drugs" to provide temporary support for the body while it heals.
But, whether you choose a multi-vitamin or a superfood supplement, a basic supplement helps make sure you're getting extra nutrients to make up for deficiencies in modern foods. I like to think of it as taking out "nutritional health insurance."
The mineral content of our foods has dropped to less than 10% of what it was 100 years ago. We simply cannot get the minerals we need from food alone. That's why I highly recommend that at least periodically, people should take Mineral Chi Tonic so they get the trace minerals they need.
Most people don't eat enough raw food. Traditional diets had a lot of fresh, raw food, which is rich in enzymes. Traditional cultures that consumed more cooked food also ate enzyme-rich fermented foods. This gave them the enzymes their diet was missing. Since most of us don't eat fermented foods, but do eat a lot of cooked food, I think a basic enzyme supplement like Protease Plus is essential for most people. This is especially important after age 50 when digestive function begins to decline.
It's no secret that most Americans don't get enough fiber. Adequate fiber, taken with plenty of water, lowers cholesterol, protects you against colon and other cancers, helps your body get rid of environmental toxins and keeps you regular.
My favorite fiber supplement is mixing Psyllium Hulls Combination and Flax Hull Lignans. However, I'd start slowly (1/2 teaspoon) and work up to it if you're not used to taking fiber. Also make sure to drink plenty of water when you're taking fiber.
Also, if you have colitis or any inflammatory bowel disorder you're better off using straight slippery elm or UC3J. It's gentler on the bowel.
If you've never taken antibiotics, steroids, birth control pills or chemotherapy and you've never drunk chlorinated water and you eat natural yogurt or other fermented foods every day, you probably don't need to supplement the friendly bacteria in your colon. Everyone else probably needs Probiotic Eleven or Bifidophilus Flora Force.
If we were eating lots of fresh, locally grown produce we wouldn't need antioxidant supplements. However, if you don't eat your fresh fruits and vegetables every day (and most people I know don't) or you have any kind of inflammatory condition, you need antioxidants like Zambroza.
Essential Fatty Acids
If you eat grass-fed meat, drink raw milk from grass-fed cows, use eggs from pastured chickens and eat sardines, wild salmon or deep ocean fish several times a week, you are getting your omega-3 fatty acids naturally. If you don't, you may need to supplement them, as well. Flax seed oil or Super Omega-3 will get you what you need.
Sensible Supplementation
I personally don't take everything on the above list every day, except for maybe my enzymes, but I do take most of the supplements on the above list fairly regularly. And, I eat a fairly healthy diet, as well. I think it's the combination of the two that has kept me fairly healthy into my mid-50s, and I believe that the extra nutrition (coupled with other good health practices) can keep me vibrantly healthy into my 80s and 90s.
So, yes, I believe that supplements are important for people living in modern society, even if you eat a fairly healthy diet. And they are essential if you're going to indulge in those fast food burgers, fries and milk shakes on any kind of regular basis.