FOOD SUPPLEMENTS: PROMOTIONAL BUZZWORD OR A DIRE NEED
Once upon a time, people enjoyed a well balanced diet comprising of natural foods, fruits, vegetables, rice, wheat, barley etc. Today many individuals fuel themselves from a shopping cart filled with engineered powders, bars, energy drinks and supplements. They savor on carbohydrate, protein, vitamin and minerals pills, with little mention of enjoyable meals with natural foods shared with friends and families. Are food supplements recognized to be a dire need or has it just become commercial products with advertisements that make us believe that engineered nutrition is a better way to optimize health and performance?
Eating foods as close to its naturals forms is the best way to improve health, prevent diseases, optimize healing, and enhance performance. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, lean meats, dairy foods, etc are all rich in combination of important vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, fat, carbohydrates, antioxidants that individuals need on a daily basis to stay healthy. Having said that, food supplements and engineered nutrition should only be used with proper knowledge and need. In today’s world, in areas where we come from, food adulteration has been a prime reason for deterioration of individual health, rise of chronic diseases like cancers with a negative impact in health and promotion of ill-health. This is where a good and properly engineered nutrition supplements has made itself look indispensible in our daily life.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT SUPPLEMENTS CAN ALWAYS BE TRICKY.
Food supplements are preparations intended to supplement the diet and provide nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, proteins, fibers, fatty acids, that may be missing or not being able to be consumed in sufficient amounts in individual’s diet. It should be kept in mind that food supplements are foods and not drugs!! Food supplements can be a good bet if we use it knowledgably and in correct portion along with the natural foods that we take in our diet. It can help those with special preference for foods and not nutrients, fulfilling the daily requirement of macro- (carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins) and micro-(vitamins, minerals, trace elements) nutrients. Naturally, for a sportsperson, the staple diet of our regions will be insufficient as their exercising and active body demand high nutrition, AND, for individuals with chronic diseases, Tuberculosis, Cancer patients and patients on chemotherapy, malnourished individuals with low food intake require a good nutritious diet. High nutrition demand and low intake of food is where nutritional or food supplements have its role.
For instance, there are individuals who suffer from a condition called lactose intolerance where they are unable to digest milk and dairy products with high fat. To fulfill their nutritional requirement from dairy products, they will either have to shift to low fat dairy products or go for supplements. Besides, pregnant ladies who naturally have a high nutrition demand either have to add high and nutrient dense foods, or they simply go for supplements of vitamins such as Folic acid and Iron supplements. These are few of the examples that explain the necessity of food supplements where the food supplements become a dire need than just another commercials, well marketed and advertised product.
On the other hand, supplements are readily available and easy to take. Easy accessibility and easier intake makes it a preferred choice for individuals who have very little time for their food and do not want to crash into fast foods with high fats and calories. Supplements are a growing recognition for individuals who are obese and on weight loss regime or on diet that fulfills their nutrient needs on daily basis.
Choosing the right supplements can always be tricky. With all the advertisements and marketing of these supplements, getting a good supplement can always be a headache. While choosing a supplement, always keep in mind that the manufacturer has followed a good manufacturer’s practice (GMP) and the quality assurance has been certified by an international governing body from the country of manufacture or its governing body. Various supplement products that claim to enhance performance are adulterated with steroids and performance enhancing products that have a negative effect to health. Don’t believe in those promotional buzzwords and be more knowledgeable before you opt for a supplement.
Finally, food supplements should only be used if you think you need them, not because you just want to take them. An excess of nutrients in your body can have a negative effect to your health and can act the opposite. Use food supplements wisely to extract much benefit.
Dr. Robin Shrestha, CEO Diet Nepal Pvt. Ltd