Economics of the Fit Life and How to Get There

•November 6, 2012 • 4 Comments
Map of Heart Disease Death Rates in US White M...

Map of Heart Disease Death Rates in US White Males from 2000-2004. A healthful lifestyle may have been able to save these lives–and the monetary cost of the disease to the individuals and families. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Health may be your greatest asset–in more ways than one.

Daniel Kadlec, an economist and writer for TIME magazine, in his 2008 article “From Health to Wealth” followed the savings of three simple, popular health tips: “Lose weight”, “Stop Smoking”, and “Get Moving”. The savings are staggering–AND these numbers have surely risen in the last 5 years since Kadlec first published.

According to Kadlec, if you are healthy your savings goal should be ten times your salary. Let’s see what Kadlec estimates one would need to plan for spending with an unhealthy lifestyle:

Your savings goal will need to significantly rise, though the severity of the condition determines how much. Co-payments and out-of-pocket costs for chronic conditions will require much more than those for healthy individuals, while extended nursing-home care can be around $300,000. Chronic conditions will require spending for maintenance–and even more spending for forgetfulness. For example,  Type I or Type II diabetics who do not carefully tend their illnesses will spend as much as $12,000 or more out-of-pocket yearly, while diabetics who keep a careful watch still will need to pay $454 each year out-of-pocket, according to Nationwide Better Health.

How much can one save by following just those three popular health tips? Possibly over $835,000 in 25 years.

1) Lose weight. Obesity has a well established link to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes as well as a slew of other health problems. (I hate to generalize, but pretty much every problem except those related to low body weight can be linked to obesity and its causes.) Rand Health reports that obese individuals will spend 133.33% what fit individuals spend on health services, and 175% what they spend on medications. Kadlec estimates that keeping weight at a healthy level and avoiding obesity-related diseases would allow an individual to invest and gain up to $700,000 over 25 years.

Losing weight is a challenge, but don’t surrender to the hype about the shortcut of surgery. Most of the time it is not worth the dire side effects. Instead seek to eat right and begin incorporating exercise into your daily routine. Change takes time, but choosing health is worth it!

2) Quit smoking. Halting the purchase of cigarettes could add up to more than $100,000 in savings over 25 years, Kadlec estimates. Avoiding diseases caused by smoking (cancer, emphysema, etc.) would add tens of thousands on top of that.

3) Get Going. Heart disease is the #1 killer in the U.S.–and we already know it is linked to sedentary lifestyle and poor diet. If you incorporate cardiovascular exercise, and a healthful diet into your daily life, you can avoid cardiovascular disease and save as much as $606 per year. Kadlec suggests investing that sum could yield over $35,000 in 25 years.

Whether you choose to use the extra you save for retirement or something else, it will be better spent than treating a condition you can prevent by living a healthful lifestyle today. Check out our 101 Ways to Live Well series; Kadlec only published data on 3 health tips; just imagine what 101 would yield!

Resources:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1840579,00.html

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Medicine’s Grim “Magic Bullet” for Obesity

•October 24, 2012 • 6 Comments

Bariatric surgery is now being used by many doctors to treat diabetes. Though, I

English: Prevalence of diabetes worldwide in 2...

Prevalence of diabetes worldwide in 2000–back then the world average was 28.23%. Yikes! The solution is lifestyle change NOT surgery. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

do not have patients who are considering this option at present, I feel compelled to write about it. I am horrified that medicine has started down this road.

Bariatric surgery seeks to shrink the stomach, thereby forcing the recipient to eat less. Initially, it can have the effect of causing weight loss and easily stabilized blood sugar.

However, the recipient has not learned to change their lifestyle to get these effects; diabetes will recur, but now with the terrible effects of surgery by its side:

Difficulty feeling full

Difficulty feeling hungry

Nausea

Acid reflux

Bloating and gas

Malnutrition

Hypoglycemia

Detrimental changes in blood pressure, blood fat concentration, gallbladder function

Disturbing bowel patterns

Often the effects of surgery lead to the need for a second surgery to deal with the effects of the first. 

This surgery was created to save the lives of the morbidly obese whose weight issues were quickly approaching fatal–and that is ONLY where it should be used, as it often leaves recipients with serious, life-long health problems. It is a tragic measure necessary only when a patient truly lacks the ability to change in time to avoid death.

Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes is certainly the wrong application of bariatric surgery. This disease is caused by poor lifestyle habits, and should be treated with serious lifestyle changes.

Diabetics should follow these basic guidelines:

Eat healthfully--consider the Mediterranean Lifestyle, or the “Low Stress” Diet, but limit your intake of carbohydrates. Always avoid processed flours and other “white” carbohydrates.

Exercise–Do cardiovascular exercise regularly and exercise with weights several times a week. Aim to exercise everyday.

Manage your stress –Cortisol, the hormone released when you are stressed, increases blood sugar levels. It is absolutely essential that you manage your stress levels effectively if you have diabetes. Try exercise and meditation. Do not forget to stretch!

Consider whole food support supplements made for diabetics. I have used Standard process products before for many different issues with much success, and I know they offer Diaplex, Cataplex GTF (Glucose Tolerance Factor), Min-Tran, Cardio-Plus, and Cataplex B specifically for diabetics. Look into trying these options and look forward to future posts on diabetes.

Most importantly, do not let the diabetes have a negative effect on your life. Diabetes does not have to be a hindrance to any activities you want to do. It may have a positive effect of forcing you to live healthier than you would have without it!

It is also important nowadays to be tested for pre-diabetes if you have not been living a healthful lifestyle–and don’t forget to test your children! Diabetes is an epidemic in the U.S. among adults and children. But if it is caught in the earliest stages, it is almost completely reversible with lifestyle changes.

Resources:

http://www.healthalert.com/t-new_articles.aspx

Diabetes: Bariatric Surgery is Medicine’s New ‘Magic Bullet.'” Health Alert
29.7 (2012): 1-2. Print.

Wellness Philosophy: Limits of Science and Importance of Discernment

•October 9, 2012 • Leave a Comment
Ginger is consumed in China as food and as med...

“Medicine” is subject to personal definition. Ginger is considered medicine in China, though in the US it is not commonly accepted as such. (Possibly due to lack of research emphasis and public over-dependence on limited research?) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am a huge fan of science; being a chiropractor, my profession is highly scientific in nature. Even so, I would like to clarify a few things.

First of all, I’d like to say that science’s strength is its limited focus; scientific experiments make observations, develop measurable hypotheses, and collect empirical evidence in order to draw conclusions. Science is focused on what is measurable.

Science does not dictate what is right or ethical. It can’t tell you what is beautiful to you, whom to love, or what to believe. It simply can’t; science asks “How?” not “Why?”.

The “How?”‘s are valuable: we need to know how the body functions to encourage healing. We also need to know how the body currently exists to address its needs–this is why I take X-rays before adjustments.

But even the top research labs doing the highest level research in the health field have limitations:

*Where the funding commands, the research follows; mainly companies with financial flexibility, who want to self-promote, can fund research. Dairy products have been extensively studied thanks to dairy-industry funding. Dairy’s negative effects have only recently been studied–funny, this is at the same time new dairy-alternatives need promotion!

*Similarly,–and with similar effects–the pharmaceutical industry funds testing on pharmaceuticals of their choice. These tests are rigorous, but are done in the shortest possible time out of life-saving intentions. This means the research on long-term side effects is necessarily neglected. (I caution my patients: it is not safe to plan on taking medications long-term. Medications have their place, but we should always seek out natural means first; healthful lifestyle changes are always best.) Herbal remedies, alternative healing methods, meditation, ancient cures, healing properties of foods, and folk medicine are not extensively studied because many companies are not interested in funding the research.

*There is an unfathomable amount of information on each body system. The simple amount of scientific information out there makes it difficult for doctors to know many different fields; instead they specialize. Awareness and knowledge tend to guide our reasoning, so unsurprisingly, specialists tend to see disease as it relates to their specialty. Specialists may miss what does not fall within their expertise. (For this reason I advise: use doctors from different fields to get a second–or third–opinion. After that, trust your instincts.)

Relationships

The impact of relationships is not completely quantifiable; yet, we know they are vital. Psychology can only give us incomplete information. Discernment is important in every facet of life. (Photo credit: The Photon Catcher)

Science overlooks non-measurable aspects of life because of its necessary emphasis on the measurable. Things like prayer, relationship, sense of meaning, sense of beauty, philosophy, and beliefs are beyond quantifiable measurement; these are not emphasized by the science-dependent health field. Yet, we know that these impact our health and life in ways that can not be overlooked.

You get the idea: science is indispensable for certain information because it is extremely limited.

Much of this is not likely to change. We cannot research everything–if we could, we could never know it all. Even if we could know all scientific information, we would still have questions about non-scientific topics.

Discernment is of the utmost importance for everyone.

The concept of “bio-individuality” is key: everyone is different. Just because a something reportedly works for 95% of users does not mean it will work for you. Whether the side effects of something are worth it or not is a matter of personal judgement.

I want my patients to be active in pursing health. I try to find and pass on what is new, helpful and applicable in the health-science field, but it will never replace each individual’s ambition to live and observe what keeps him or her healthy–scientific or not.

One example of how this works in my personal life is my attitude towards prayer. I know that there are not many scientific experiments completed on the health effects of praying, but I personally believe that my life would not be nearly as healthful, satisfying, and meaningful without my personal prayer time. I personally consider this an indispensable healthy habit.

I hope this gives my readers freedom to break free from the fads and get back to observing, improving, and maintaining their personal health with emphasis in all facets of life.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Please feel free to comment or email drclaps@clapschiropractic.com with any questions or comments. Check out the last post in the “Wellness Philosophy” series here.

The Anti-Alzheimer’s Gameplan

•October 2, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Current statistics reported by the Alzheimer’s Association tell me that once we hit 85, chances are either my wife or I will be

Healthy brain (bottom) versus brain of a donor...

Change your lifestyle today to keep your brain like the healthy brain (bottom) not the shrunken brain with Alzheimer’s (top). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

afflicted with Alzheimer’s. That’s right–nearly half of all people over 85 are dying slowly thanks to Alzheimer’s, as medicine has not been able to significantly slow it down or cure it.

But there is hope: only 2% of Alzheimer’s cases are linked to genetics according to recent studies reported by Dynamic Chiropractic. Can the other 98% be prevented? The jury is still out, but leaning yes.

You don’t have to feel like your brain is a time-bomb; the lifestyle choices you make every day can work to prevent Alzheimer’s in the future. My wife and I both live in a way that combats Alzheimer’s.

Here’s how to go about preventing Alzheimer’s with your lifestyle:

1. Don’t let your cholesterol get high. Atherosclerosis is a precursor to dementia; in other words, if you are on the path to heart disease, you are on the path to Alzheimer’s. Avoid trans fats/hydrogenated oils and severely limit your intake of processed foods.

2. Keep your blood sugar in check. Diabetes is a precursor to Alzheimer’s; in fact, there is a 3rd type of diabetes added to the list that is specifically a diabetes closely connected to Alzheimer’s. This “Type 3 Diabetes” is also known as “Brain Diabetes” because it refers to the stopping of insulin production and/or use by the brain. There is a lot of research in this field, but–unsurprisingly– it is likely that this is caused by poor diet and lack of regular exercise, not genetics. Other types of diabetics are at particular risk for Type 3, but anyone who neglects care of their brain or diet is well on the path to Alzheimer’s.

3. Get your vitamins and minerals. Follow the “Low Stress Diet” and eat a variety of non-processed foods every day. If you are getting to be older and have not been taking good care of yourself, consider periodically adding Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B supplements to your diet while you start making it healthful. There is no need to supplement any of these daily, but a weekly supplement could be helpful in some cases. But don’t rely on supplements to keep you healthy! There is no shortcut: you need to eat healthfully.

4. Get to your ideal body weight and stay there; while you’re at it, keep a percentage of body fat which is on the low side of the healthy range. This one I can’t stress enough; the benefits of maintaining fitness throughout life are infinite–just as the risks of being overweight or obese are innumerable. Track your percentage of body fat to be sure not to overlook a poor ratio of muscle to fat which can occur even at an acceptable weight.

5. Consume plenty of essential fatty acids. I would suggest eating wild caught fish twice a week (I’m a fan of salmon, myself) and consuming flaxseed oil (It is tasteless, so I even add it to my SP Complete smoothies). Again, if you feel you are late to living a healthful lifestyle consider supplementation with flaxseed, cod liver, and borage oils.

6. Mind your melatonin levels. Melatonin is the hormone which regulates sleep and circadian rhythms and is triggered by the presence of light. Don’t look at blue light–especially computers or televisions–before bed. Remove all blue or other colored light from the bedroom. If you are older and have a history of trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about using melatonin supplements. Personally, I suggest supplementation with a hormone like melatonin should be handled with extreme caution as scientists are finding hormone supplementation in the long run can cause the body to stop naturally producing hormones, making the body permanently dependent on supplements. Before trying supplementation, be sure to incorporate habits that promote healthful sleep into your habits: try meditation, stretching, deep breathing, or relaxing yoga in the evenings before bed. Don’t eat for two hours before bedtime, and exercise during the day for some amount of time every single day.

7. Acetylcholine is key. This chemical is used by the nervous system to execute many, many different commands. A lack of acetylcholine is the chief marker of Alzheimer’s. In older adults supplementation may be necessary to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s, but in most try incorporating more lecithin into the diet. Lecithin promotes the production of acetylcholine and can be found in eggs, peanuts and whole grains among other sources.

English: Maternal anti-smoking campaign

Quit smoking today and think better tomorrow. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

8. Say “NO!!!” to drugs–including tobacco and alcohol. These are known to damage the brain. They also introduce free radicals into the body which use up Vitamin C, interfere proper function, and decrease absorption of vitamins and minerals.

9. Accept the challenge; learn something new. Pick something difficult. Try learning a new language or instrument. Challenging the brain will create new neural pathways which keep the brain young and sharp. Play memory games and puzzles and card games for fun or during free time to keep the brain working.

10. Don’t bang your head. Wear a helmet during cycling, skiing, rollerblading, climbing, or any other activity where you can fall and hurt your head. Damaged brain cells are dead brain cells, and new brain cells will not be created; take care of the ones you have.

Living well today really will make a difference in the future, as we have previously discussed. It will make a difference to more than just you: the example you set effects everyone around you, and your health will affect the health of your kids.

Do you have any comments or stories or questions? Please feel free to comment and share. You can also email me at drclaps@clapschiropractic.com.

Resources:

http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_facts_and_figures.asp

http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=56081

http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=56114

 

Banish The Woe of a Thyroid, Slightly Slow

•September 21, 2012 • 1 Comment
Coconut (halved)

Coconut is wonderful for low functioning thyroid! (Photo credit: SingChan)

So many adults complain about the same health issues: Not having enough energy. Not feeling emotionally at peace. Feeling anxious. Being overweight.

I encourage all of my patients to be intentional with their lifestyle decisions in order to regain their health, but many are fighting a much more difficult battle than others to find motivation: The battle against hypothyroidism is raging.

In fact, it is estimated that as many as 27 million Americans may unknowingly have low thyroid function–this number is comparable with that of diabetes in America today! Hypothyroidism is a serious epidemic.

To make matters more serious, the acceptable range for thyroid function has been narrowed (from TSH levels of 0.5 to 5.0; to between 0.3 to 3.04.), making more than estimated in the unacceptable range.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism (low functioning thyroid) are:

Depression

Fatigue

Weight gain

Heart problems

Sounds like the U.S.’s health problems in a nutshell.

Even more dangerous are the effects hypothyroidism can have on lifestyle through its crippling effect on motivation: if one is depressed and fatigued, it is hard to put energy into living healthfully. (So begins the vicious cycle of Hypothyroidism.)

To fight this epidemic, we must understand the condition. The thyroid is an hard-working little butterfly shaped organ situated in the neck. Its main functions are controlling metabolism, regulating body temperature, and secreting thyroid hormones. It has interactions with almost every vitamin and mineral, though emphasis is put on Calcium, Vitamin D, and Iodine.

Currently, hypothyroidism is treated with synthetic hormones.  On the surface this is wonderful for many–their lives can become full and energized again because they feel energetic and lively for the first time in years! BUT taking synthetic hormones is dangerous. Consuming synthetic hormones can slow the body’s natural production of hormones to a complete stop. This means that one who begins to take synthetic thyroid hormones will have to be put on a supplemental hormone regime for life.

Is there any way to boost thyroid function instead of impairing it permanently? Yes; many can get results without taking synthetic hormones. Using raw materials for a safer, slower, longterm option that promotes the body’s natural thyroid function and hormone production is possible.

How to approach natural recovery from hypothyroidism, according to Timothy Caulfield in his widely successful “The Cure for Everything”:

Eat virgin coconut oil. The oil present in coconuts promotes the burning of calories to produce heat–a process that is impaired in hypothyroidism.

Eat monolaurin. It is a coconut product that has antiviral and antibacterial components–helpful to hypothyroidism patients who have weak immune systems.

Avoid soy products. There has been lots of research on soy and soy products. Pubmed.gov had patients with abnormal thyroid function and/or goiter avoid soy an found they had normalized thyroid hormone levels and reduced goiter in just one month. There is research on the positives of soy products too, but  in the case of hypothyroidism and other endocrine problems it is best to avoid it for now.

Consider endocrine boosting herbs–specifically Maca and cordyceps

Limit your intake of raw cruciferous vegetables. (Yes, you heard me; food is medicine, and we know that taking the wrong medication for a problem will cause harm.) These contain a chemical called “Goitrogen” that essentially “calms down” the thyroid. In the case of hypothyroidism the thyroid is already calm–too calm! Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, mustard, turnips, millet, peaches, radishes, soybeans, spinach, mint, and rosemary are great fermented but should be limited slightly in their raw form for hypothyroidism. (But there are many other vegetables out there! Do not stop eating lots of vegetables. Just limit intake of those above listed.)

Up the probiotics in your diet.

tai chi 11.4.09

Tai Chi is great exercise! 11.4.09 (Photo credit: gigisko)

Try Tai Chi or Qigong as an exercise–both are great for circulation and metabolism. If these are just not for you, find what you enjoy and MOVE IT. Exercise is important every single day to counteract depression, weight gain, and low energy levels associated with hypothyroidism.

Eat goji berries daily. Eat watercress, kelp, and wild-caught salmon often–these promote healthy endocrine function.

Make sure to get enough Vitamin D–but not the synthetic kind. Try fish oils.

I suggest you also have your iodine levels tested and consider upping your iodine intake if necessary. (Look forward to a post on this soon!)

If you think you may be suffering from hypothyroidism, try these tips and plan on getting tested soon.

Do you have any experience with hypothyroidism? Please comment and share–I’d love to hear from you. If you have any questions please comment or email drclaps@clapschiropractic.com.

Resources:

http://www.nationalthyroidinstitute.org/thyroid-statistics/

http://grossmanwellness.com/hormone-therapies/hypothyroidism/

Caulfield, Timothy A., The Cure for Everything Canada: Penguin Group, 2011

101 Ways to Live Well: Tips 10-12

•September 18, 2012 • 18 Comments
Nourishing Homemade Bone Broth

You can make delicious and healthful food at home!
(Photo credit: Chiot’s Run)

10. Take a healthful eating cooking class. Would you eat well if you could make healthful food taste irresistible? Eating healthfully can be easily a matter of cooking skills. Trust me; food that is good for you can taste good! A class may help you think outside the box and add new, tasty, healthful recipes to your repertoire.

I recently invited my patients and team to a cooking class with Health Supportive Chef Sue Stimpson. Her story is inspiring: she climbed the corporate ladder until being diagnosed with cancer. In the fight to survive, she completely made-over her lifestyle. After successfully beating cancer, she tried to reenter the corporate world but found it impossible to continue, knowing all that she had learned about health. She went back to school to became a personal chef. Chef Stimpson now owns “From the Heart Healthy Healing Foods, LLC” which promotes healing for those recovering from or dealing with serious health issues, or people with food allergies through healthful, delicious meals which she lovingly prepares for her clients. Her recipes are wonderful! I definitely recommend her if you are in the area.

There are chefs all around the country who specialize in healthful cooking, and grocery stores such as “Whole Foods Market” run healthful cooking classes. Find a class that you find interesting and go for it; you may find a new talent!

11. Be a “fair-weather” vegetarian. I have found that many of my U.S. born-and-raised clients do not consider a meal a true “meal” unless meat is included–our government even fosters this mindset by separating “protein” from all plant foods its new food pyramid replacement, “MyPlate“. Check out our post on protein for more information.

I understand that everyone is an individual and requires a unique lifestyle that suits his or her needs; still, many are overdoing it on animal protein. Why not try a few vegetarian or vegan days during the week? You will have more energy because your body will not spend extra energy digesting meat and animal products. It will also be easy on your pocket-book as well as the environment. I recommend reading the chapter on  protein in the book Diet for a Small Planet by Francis Moore Lappe. Forgoing meat for a few days (or, as a baby step, a few meals) during the week will also encourage the incorporation of a variety of foods–which is always healthier in the long run.

Lunge with Bicep Curl 2

You don’t have to life heavy weights to get results; start small and be consistent. (Photo credit: Scott & White Healthcare)

12. Lift weights. At my Chiropractic practice, I give my patients a series of exercises with light weights to do at home to help with recovery and maintenance. These exercises help to balance out and strengthen their bodies so that they may maintain proper alignment. Do not neglect your muscles!

Regular weight-bearing exercise decreases the ratio of body fat to muscle–known as “percent body fat”. Track your percent body fat; this number is more important than weight. You can be “overweight” with a small percent body fat and be completely healthy, but a high percent body fat–even at a low weight–called “Skinny Fat”, means high risk of disease. The American Council on Exercise reports ideal percent body fat for fit adult men is 14-17% and for fit adult women is 21-24%. Average to overweight percent body fat is 25-31% for women and 18-24% for men. Anything above 31% for women and 24% for men is obese.

I tell patients, who seek to lose weight, to begin stretching and doing a variety of exercises–including cardiovascular AND weight-bearing exercises. After a few weeks of dedication, they find themselves smaller and stronger overall–even if the number on the regular scale didn’t change very much. When we check their body fat percentages, we almost always find they decreased; and my clients find they are happy with how their body works and looks–regardless of what the scale says–because they are healthy, revitalized, confident, and strong at a lower body fat percentage.

This tip applies to BOTH genders. I find some of my female clients shirk away from weights for fear of “bulking up”; this fear is unnecessary and dangerous. It can even fuel a reluctance to exercise in new, challenging ways when challenging the body through exercise is precisely what improves fitness! Women especially need to be doing weight-bearing exercise; it has been shown to improve bone density. We will talk about Osteopenia the precursor to Osteoporsis in a future post.

Have you attended an amazing cooking class? Please pass on the name! Have you experimented with vegetarianism? Do you have any wonderful resources or recipes to share? I  would love to hear about them! What do you think of weight-lifting? What are your favorite weight-bearing exercises? Please share and let’s work towards a healthful, strong, and balanced life together!

More Percent Body Fat information:

http://www.healthchecksystems.com/bodyfat.htm

If you have any questions for me, please feel free to comment or email drclaps@clapschiropractic.com.

“Fortified”?

•September 11, 2012 • 5 Comments
Vitamins

Eating food is the best way to get the vitamins and minerals you need; supplement-binging like this could potentially lead to a dangerous overdose. (Photo credit: DBduo Photography)

Avid food-label readers will be upset to find out that what you see is not what you get.

It is not that food companies are intentionally being dishonest (usually); rather, nutrition is more complex than we like to think. This especially comes into play with vitamins and minerals on food labels.

Availability: Each vitamin and mineral can have different forms–sometimes as many as eight! However, only one or two will be usable by the body–this is called the “biologically active” or “biologically available” form. BUT, ALL usable or unusable forms of a vitamin fall under its name. A food company can print that a serving contains 100% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of Vitamin C, even though 95% of the Vitamin C is in an unusable form.

Testing Time Vs. Sale: Nutrient levels are tested upon production–not upon packaging or selling. Sometimes years can go by between the making of a product and its sale! There is often a large difference between what is written on the label and what is left in the food products after that time passes.

Packaging: Many vitamins and minerals are heat or light sensitive. Therefore, avoid buying anything that comes in a transparent package if you are interested in getting the most from it. And don’t bother paying for anything “Fortified” if it is exposed to light or heat–you will be paying for the word, not the nutrition.

Wild, isn’t it? And, perhaps, a bit frustrating.

I like to think of it as a relief; don’t micromanage your diet–just eat well! Follow the guidelines in the “Low Stress Diet” and you should be golden. (“Eat food, not too much, mostly vegetables.”)

If you are discouraged or concerned about your vitamin and mineral intake, take comfort in knowing that RDA’s are both generalized and overestimated: they are meant to provide several days’ requirement, if need be, for someone of the national average height and weight. And these are only estimates: many RDA’s were determined using testing on animals–not humans. Vitamin recommendations for your unique body on any given day may be much different.

It is simple to get the nutrients you need when you eat a variety of food from all food categories: whole grains, vegetables, fruits, meat/poultry, fish, oils, legumes.

Eat fresh food, eat organic food; but above all, eat food! Supplements are not the best source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals; food is always better.

If you are on a special diet–especially vegan, vegetarian, or raw–learn about popular vitamin deficiencies associated with that diet (look forward to a future post on this topic!) and be especially careful to eat foods rich in those vitamins. In some cases, supplementation will be necessary; in many cases it is excessive.

HOWEVER, Vitamin D deficiency and Iron deficiency are both on the rise in the U.S.–and these are only the deficiencies most studied at the moment. Don’t be afraid to ask for a test.

 
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