In my last two blogs, Who Needs Food Supplementation? and The Need For Food Supplementation – Part 2, I have been responding to a comment one of my readers wrote;
“If you’re generally healthy and eat a wide variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy products, lean meats and fish, you likely don’t need supplements.”
It has been an interesting inquiry into who does need supplementation and why we need to supplement our diets to boost nutrient density and diversity for optimal health and well-being.
Here in Part 3 and the conclusion to my response, I am addressing:
- Farming and Farming Practices
- Transportation and Storage
- Food Processing, including Refining
Farming: The nutrient content of soil can vary greatly from one farm to the next. Essential nutrients, especially minerals, can become depleted after years of farming the same soil. This points to the likelihood that the nutrient value in foods are inconsistent. Modern farming technologies also impact nutritional value. For example, genetic engineering led to the development of special varieties of tomatoes that have a uniform size convenient for canners, and a thicker skin necessary for machine harvesting. But engineered tomatoes have less vitamin C and lycopene, an important phytonutrient (plant nutrient), than their natural cousins. Farming practices can also have a negative impact. Farmers frequently harvest produce before it is ripe, robbing plants of the chance to attain the nutrient density and diversity that develop with the natural maturity of, for example, tomatoes ripening on the vine in the sun. Moreover, air and water pollutants, such as smog, insecticides and herbicides, can also act as chemical antagonists and rob fruits and vegetables of some of their nutritional value.
Transportation and Storage: After harvest, food may be stored on the farm in barns or silos before it’s sold to food brokers and transported to warehouses. It may sit for months there before it is transported to grocery stores to be stocked, displayed, and sold. During transportation and storage, factors such as temperature, light, moisture, and even time itself, act to lessen the nutritional value of foods.
Processing: Food processing – a wide array of techniques that modify foods for storage, convenience, taste, etc. – can further drain the nutrient value from food. Produce, for instance, is often peeled, cored, cut, shredded, or chopped before it is frozen, canned, or cooked. Such processing strips away nutrient density and diversity.
- Freezing - In the interest of convenience and storage, much of today’s produce is available frozen. The produce is shipped from a broker’s warehouse to a processing plant where it can be held for several days prior to freezing. In the meantime, the foods may be sprayed with chemicals to delay spoilage and repel insects. Many types of produce are blanched (boiled for several minutes and cooled rapidly) before freezing. This process can destroy much of the vitamin C, thiamine (a B-vitamin), and enzymes. While freezing will help preserve the remaining nutrients, the food’s nutritional value will continue to fade with time.
- Canning - Canning too, can degrade the nutritional value of food. Canned food often undergoes harvesting, soaking and washing, sorting and grading, blanching, peeling and coring, can filling, air removal, can sealing, cooling, labeling, packing, and storage. A form of baking soda may be added to very acidic foods with the result that B-vitamins are destroyed. Food may also be treated with additives to preserve color and texture. The high heat necessary for canning can lead to major losses of minerals, and canning fluids provide a reservoir into which vitamins can leach.
- Refining – We accept without question the fact that the health of crops and livestock depends upon the nutrients they are provided. Yet many people attempt to build healthy bodies by consuming highly processed, refined foods with inadequate amounts of crucial nutrients. Ironically, the nutrients removed in refining processes from these products are often fed to livestock to improve their health!
Refining strips grains of much of their nutritional value. For instance, most of the nutrients in rice are concentrated in the husk, which is removed during processing to make white rice. Similarly, when wheat is refined, the germ and hull are removed, eliminating most of the fiber, B-vitamins, vitamin E, and lipids and sterols (healthy essential fatty acids).
In its raw state, sugar is a nutritious food containing a great number of vitamins and minerals. During refining, these nutrients are removed as raw molasses, which ranchers add to animal feed – along with the wheat bran and wheat germ removed from refined grain – in order to raise healthy livestock. We consume the dead, empty calories that remain. Refined sugar is 100% carbohydrate and has no value to the body except as calories.
Refining or processing fruits and vegetables may remove healthful phytonutrients, as they tend to make fruit juices bitter and can contribute to rancidity. Similarly, carotenoids – plant pigments which research has shown support immunity and cardiovascular health – are often removed from plant oils to “de-colorize” them. And processes such as canning can destroy lutein, a phytonutrients in spinach and other green, leafy vegetables that is important to eye health.
COOKING: Cooking is often the last step in the preparation of food before it reaches our table. Heat, oxidation, or other chemical reactions during this process can destroy vitamins (especially B and C), amino acids, and enzymes. Also, boiling or blanching foods can cause vitamins and minerals to leach out of foods and into the cooking water. Even steaming fruits and vegetables – second in nutritional value only to consuming them raw – can cause nutrient loss.
*GNLD Distributor Business Tools Guide
In conclusion, the bottom line is that your food may not be as nutritious as you think. Every day nutrients are processed out of our food in the name of convenience. Even if you pick the right foods – and most of us don’t, you may not be getting the nutrient density and nutrient diversity you need for optimal health and vitality. While one solution would be to eat only fresh, raw, or slightly cooked foods in as close to their natural form as possible, few of us can spend our entire day hunting, gathering, and carefully preparing our food. We must look for practical alternatives. The key to an optimal diet is good whole foods and good whole-food supplements.
On June 19, 2002, The Journal of the American Medical Association published the results of “Vitamins for Chronic Disease Prevention in Adults, Clinical Applications”, written by Robert H. Fletcher, MD, MSc and Kathleen M. Fairfield, MD, DrPH. The article concluded:
“Suboptimal folic acid levels, along with suboptimal levels of vitamins B6 and B12, are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, neural tube defects, and colon and breast cancer; low levels of vitamin D contribute to osteopenia and fractures; and low levels of the antioxidant vitamins (vitamins A, E, and C) may increase risk for several chronic diseases. Most people do not consume an optimal amount of all vitamins by diet alone. Pending strong evidence of effectiveness from randomized trials, it appears prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements.”
That was 10 years ago! I suggest that it is even more prudent and pertinent today! So, Take charge of your health! Eat the very best way you can and supplement your diet with whole food supplements to fill any gaps that may be missing. The nutritional value of your entire dietary intake, including your supplements, has a vital impact on your health today and on your health and well-being of all your tomorrows!
Eat well, live long! Take your vities!
I’d love your feedback! Here on my blog, you’ll get commentluv. This is a wonderful opportunity to leave a link back to your own blog when you leave a comment.
Until next time,
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