Nutritional Supplements and Our Biological Individuality
A Benevolent Enterprise
I hope that you are not expecting from this article yet another "sound advice" about what diets and pills and tinctures you should implement into your eating habits. As the title is hinting, even if I was an expert in that field, I would not take any chances of violating your biological individuality.
Instead, allow me to share some thoughts about this relatively new and blooming industry of nutritional supplements, by centering on certain flaws that might originate from their too eager business-factor to sell, and to sell more.
Now, in principle I have absolutely nothing bad to say about selling per se; it's the West, where it's a general trend to make a buck on anything that you are good at. And they certainly are good at what they are doing, with a whole army of food scientists, medical doctors, highly equipped labs, and yes---with a noble intention to offer a solution to those suffering, after the standard medicine has not come up with a satisfying one.
Apparently, more and more folks are being turned off from pharmaceuticals and scalpel, in a smart quest to prevent what is preventable, and cure what is curable by not much more than their choices of foods---while inspired by now famous saying of the ancient father of medicine: "Let food be your medicine, and medicine your food."
Although less known, but stemming from the above advice is the one about replacing those cosmetics and personal cleaning products with natural ones, as it says: "Don't put on your skin anything that you would not put into your mouth".
So, now, that we took care of the wisdom behind that industry, let us see what are those couple of arguments that I announced at the beginning.
An Inner Chemist
One is about their "one-fit-all" attitude that nutrition industry is mimicking from the example of standard medicine, while not really keeping in sight, not only the biological, but also psychological individuality of consumers.
Namely, it largely depends on our psychological makeup how we are processing our foods. Going somewhat blunt in that respect, I like my own little humorous way of saying it: we all have an inner chemist who watches our "emotional climate" and according to it can turn a vitamin into crap and crap into a vitamin.
As I see it, a depressed person's absorbing ability is different than a happy person's, and his inner chemist, catering on his depression may be in effect saying: "Since you are maintaining this dark attitude about life, this B-complex of vitamins is not something that you will need."
I know it probably sounds funny, if not completely improbable, but well, such is my impression after my own observations of people who mistook nutritional supplements for those pharmaceutical chemicals which are invasive by nature.
I mean, they are psychoactive, and they will "force" your nervous system into a change, whereas a supplement is not a drug, and it will only blend with the overall, holistic situation in our psycho-physiology. Again, don't take my word for it, have your own favorite view on it.
As I keep drumming in the same beat, I just can't accept that many of those nutritional products are effective for everyone---let alone the fact that many could be downright harmful as well. It certainly takes some homework with research on internet, or checking it with our doctor before we decide to self-medicate with nutritional supplements.
Not only in those mostly mentioned examples with pregnancy and breastfeeding, but with our possible conditions for which a supplement is not a good idea, like a high blood pressure, to mention only one of many possible.
Going Against the Grain Pays Off
Then, even if we forgive this business-oriented tendency to neglect individual needs by advertising universally expectable benefits of a product, there is still an issue of that enormous contradiction among expert advices.
What seems to be a smart formula for making a bestseller of a book on nutrition is coming up with something totally opposite from what the mainstream beliefs are. For example, if you would title your book: "I Never Had Any Water in 20 Years", or "Forget About Trans Fats---Eat Pig's Fat for Health of Your Heart and Brain", you might be able to quit your regular job and live of your royalties.
By the way, not that the above advices would be totally wrong. If we ate mostly water-containing foods, we would hardly need any of that contaminated stuff coming out of our faucets. And pig's fat doesn't go rancid like most of those highest quality oils, it can even stay in your pantry for months and months unspoiled, while apparently doing no damage to your arteries---as long as the most of your food consists of fruits and veggies.
But again, don't take my word for it, research for yourself. Moreover, two experts of exactly the same credentials may come up with completely opposite lab evidence about just about anything. Then one may tell you how honey, even the raw, unpasteurized kind, is merely another "very sweet stuff" making you fat, and causing spikes in your blood sugar.
Another expert may tell you that the whole composition of honey outweighs with its benefits the sweetness , and is actually very beneficial for you. Similar opposite pair of opinions would claim that Celtic or Himalayan salts are just salts, and those with hypertension should stay away from them as much as possible---whereas another one says that those salts can actually cure high blood pressure with their 80-something trace minerals neutralizing sodium in them. Now, who is more believable!
Sometimes Science Just Doesn't Apply
There is no question whether or not eating right by following some generally proven guidelines is good or bad for us, and I would be a hypocrite if I denied its importance while myself being quite conscious about what I am putting into my mouth. However, like I mentioned earlier, to me much more important question is what we are digesting in our minds.
At times, trust me, I wish I never read anything about nutrition, because of a habit which is hard to kick, and which boils down to my regular and involuntary spying on my foods: Is it the right one for that part of the day? Is it acidy or alkaline? Is it cholesterol producing? What is its glycemic index? Am I chewing it enough?...etc.
Long time ago I stopped fussing over all those questions, basically using only coconut oil, Himalayan salt, Gotu kola, and probiotics as nutritional addition to my wife's excellent cooking European-style from scratch, no boxes and cans. And yet, those questions, or at least some of them simply invade my mind. They don't bother me all that much as to spoil my beautiful disposition or enjoying my every morsel---but they are there.
Which brings me to that story of long time ago about Eskimo and nutritional experts. Now, in all honesty, who would ever go as naïve as to apply the science of nutrition to Eskimo's eating habits? Like, talking about a "balanced diet with enough fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds sounds ridiculous in their case, as none of those goodies grow on snow and ice.
But, what can I say, apparently there was such an attempt done to "improve Eskimo's eating", with an experiment that involved implementing vitamins, minerals, enzymes, all those goodies into their diet.
So what happened? Did Eskimo start growing bushy blond beard as a result? No, they started losing teeth and hair, and felt like crap. Back to fishing and seal hunting, you, snow people!
Let's Be Smart about Supplementing
We might as well think a little about the life conditions in the war devastated Europe during the WW2. People were surviving on some subhuman basics---so who in the right mind would talk about their "nutritional needs" or a "stress management"?
And yet, that war generation not only survived but lived to their 80's, without those nutrients which are considered to be "crucial for survival". It is for this kind of thinking that I am sometimes under impression that we are an awful bunch of softies shaking over our fragile health---so expertly propagated by nutritional and medical establishment.
And yet, I am very far from suggesting to anyone to junk their diets, especially if they were ordered by the doctors. And neither am I saying that your supplements are "worthless". My main message, if there was one, would be to find out what really works for your particular biological individuality.
One person's medicine could be another person's poison, and it covers much more than being allergic to those highly nutritional peanuts. "Possible side effects" are a must to read before we start using any pills that are being advertised a lot for their "miraculous" effects on health.
On the other hand, with any possible and valid arguments against the advertising practices in this industry, it remains true that many people have actually cures themselves after using a natural substance that was either deficient in their bodies, or stimulated body's natural healing forces.
The bottom line is---let's go smart about it, as this is not a situation where a doctor will prescribe you something putting on line his license, but we are doctoring ourselves, and we could lose more than a "license" by going careless and naively peck on anything that advertisements may call "miraculous". Let's be conscious about our own biological individuality and its real needs.