T. Colin Campbell created quite a stir when he wrote the book “The China Study”. In it, he showed that cancer cells can be turned on and off with the ingestion of animal protein greater than 5% of total calories.
Well, he’s released a second book entitled “Whole” where he is making quite a convincing argument against reductionistic science versus looking at things “whole-listically”.
He mentions that nutrients are often studied by themselves and yet any single nutrient comes into contact with hundreds of other nutrients in real food and in the body and those other nutrients interact with and alter the function of that first nutrient.
Thus the folly of taking vitamin supplements. No single nutrient is isolated in real foods or in the human body and shouldn’t be isolated into a synthetic pill.
He cites a study done by a colleague regarding vitamin C and its antioxidant effect in an apple.
They found that 100 grams of fresh apples had an antioxidant vitamin C-like activity equivalent to 1,500 milligrams of vitamin C. When they analyzed the apples, however, they only found 5.7 milligrams of vitamin C in them. What accounted for this was the other vitamin C-like chemicals found in the apple which made the ability of the vitamin C to be much more effective in context with these other nutrients than when consumed in isolation.
These other compounds were antioxidants like quercetin, catechin, phlortzin, and chlorogenic acid. If these names don’t sound familiar to you, that’s another problem with taking vitamin supplements: there are still no doubt hundreds of nutrients still not “discovered” yet by science that are no doubt in those whole foods that you might be missing by taking the vitamin versus the whole food thatcwould be a critical nutrient needed by the body in order to be healthy.
One reason often cited by supplement pushers for taking pills is soil depletion. The answer to this argument is to eat as much organic produce as possible since organic gardening is much more diligent in the care of the soil via mulching, composting and adding in minerals via seaweed and fish emulsion as well as other means. Organic foods have been shown to have way higher nutrient levels than conventional produce due to this.
We have to be leary of those who are selling supplements as well because it creates the “just take a pill” mentality that gives us a false sense of security regarding our health because we then think we don’t need to make dietary changes such as cutting out junk food and then adding in whole foods because we can “just get what we need by taking a pill”.
This reasoning is faulty. True health comes from what we AVOID as well as what we include since what we avoid actually is harmful to us.
We can’t use false reasoning that the good cancels out the bad because it doesn’t. I’m sure there are many cancer, diabetes and heart attack patients out there that were faithfully taking their daily vitamins when they developed their diseases and yet The China Study showed that avoidance of animal foods and the inclusion of whole plant foods would have helped each of those diseases from developing.
I have been in outside sales for over a decade and I can tell you that there is a lot of untruth in the sales business, especially when there is a lot of money to be made as there is in the supplement industry.
One of the best ways to sell something is to create an imagined deficiency that causes you to “need” something where previously you didn’t think you needed it. Think of all the other areas in your life where you have seen this happen: you need to have the latest new model car, cell phone, clothing, hair cut, etc., because it has been “sold” to you that everyone else has it and you will be looked upon as outdated unless you get one as well when the one you already have is working just fine.
We tend to think of the health industry as different because the advice is coming from a doctor or an alternative health practitioner and thus we feel that their advice would be based more on “science” than these other areas which are clearly solely profit driven.
Not so. The supplement and health industry is just as profit driven as any of these other industries and Campbell examines this as well in his book as well. We need to take the rosy-colored glasses off and see things how they really are.
We are being sold. And, Campbell makes the point in his book that supplements can actually harm our health due to the fact they are isolated compounds and not in balance with other nutrients.
That said, there are instances where supplementation can help such as severe deficiencies and for things we may not be getting from the soil like trace minerals. The B-vitamins have been severely depleted in processed foods, too.
Make the effort to cut out the processed junk and animal foods and instead include copious amounts of whole, ripe, preferably raw plant foods. Manage your stress which depletes nutrients, exercise regularly and get enough sleep.
Watch your health soar by taking nature’s vitamins the right way as the foundation for health and use supplements judiciously only when needed and not as a crutch to eat a poor diet. They are much better tasting that way, too!