To supplement or not to supplement – that is the question?
I used to be against taking vitamins. I thought it was enough to eat a varied diet. The funny thing is, I don't think I had such a diet at that time.
It's a controversial subject. Some, including doctors, say supplements are superfluous as long as you eat a varied diet.
Others swear by them and say supplements should be included in a varied and healthy diet.
Personally I think that a lot of people struggle to eat enough fruit and vegetables - to eat a varied enough diet. On top of that I think that a lot of food produced today aren't as nutritious as they used to be.
Vegetables start to lose their nutrients as soon as they are taken out of the earth. The longer they are stored the more nutrients they lose, and if you cook them they lose even more.
Fresh vegetables that we buy in supermarkets aren’t always that fresh. They have usually been stored for quite a long time before we buy them, and then we often store them for some time in our fridges.
A lot of farmers also use pesticides and herbicides on their crops. Unless you can afford to buy nothing but organic produce, it’s hard to avoid these harmful substances.
Everyone has to decide for themselves whether to take supplements or not.
The important thing is that an otherwise unhealthy diet won't become healthy just by taking a multi-vitamin supplement.
· A high-strength multi-vitamin and mineral tablet
· A high-strength probiotic capsule
I actually take 2 multi-vitamin and mineral tablets every day. This is because - according to many nutritionists – you can’t fit the needed daily amount of different vitamins and minerals into one tablet. Good quality multi-vitamin and mineral formulas recommend that you take two tablets per day.
Probiotics: Our bodies are full of bacteria. Most of them are incredibly good for us – they are vital for healthy digestion and for keeping your immune system strong.
Others though, are harmful and can “cause infection directly, or produce toxic substances that contribute to inflammation and cancer, particularly of the digestive tract” (Patrick Holford – The optimum nutrition bible).
The good bacteria inside us to a large extent keep the bad ones under control so it’s important to make sure you have enough good bacteria in your body by eating fermented foods which contains beneficial bacteria – known as probiotics - and/or taking supplements.
Eating fermented foods like kefir, fermented vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut, miso, tofu and other soya products and sourdough bread is a good way to increase healthy bacteria in your intestines, but it is not as powerful as taking supplements.
Most of the gut bacteria reside in the colon. As a lot of beneficial bacteria in food and supplements are killed off by stomach acid, you need to take a supplement that contains a high number of the two main types of beneficial bacteria - Lactobacillus and Bifodobacteria – anything between 100 million to a billion of each.
It is much better to take a capsule containing nothing but these bacteria rather than probiotic drinks sold in supermarkets. These types of products are not as efficient as they don't contain enough good bacterias. Most of these products also contain sugar, flavouring and a few other things.
Health food stores sell different makes of probiotics.
It's equally important to feed the existing bacteria in your body the type of food these bacteria thrive on - Prebiotics, which is undigestible fibre (see A Healthy Gut).
As a footnote I want to tell you that I can't even remember how many years ago it was since I last had a cold - and it is all thanks to ECHINACEA.
I can't promise of course that it will work for everyone but it might be worth trying this herbal medicin. Just be aware of that you need to start taking it as soon as you feel a cold coming on.
I always have Echinacea tablets at home and in my handbag and as soon as I feel the first signs of a cold - or if I am surrounded by other people having colds - I start taking Echinacea right away.
You should not take echinecea (you can find it in both liquid and tablet form) for longer than 7 days in a row. You need to have a break from it for it to work at other times when you need it.
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It's all about a healthy gut these days - how to increase the amount of healthy bacteria in our bodies, how to keep these little miracle workers happy and why they are so important to us.