Nutritional Supplementation vs. Our Biological Individuality
A Benevolent Enterprise
I hope that you are not expecting to read yet another "sound advice" article about what diets and pills and tinctures you should implement into your eating habits. As the title is hinting, even if I were 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 the now-famous saying of the ancient father of medicine: "Let your food be your medicine and your 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, and 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 those couple of arguments that I announced at the beginning are.
An Inner Chemist
One is about their "one-fit-all" attitude that the 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, how we process foods largely depends on our psychological makeup. 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 to 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, those drugs 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 psychophysiology. 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 the Internet or checking it with our doctor before we decide to self-medicate with nutritional supplements.
Not only in those frequently mentioned examples with pregnancy and breastfeeding, but also with our possible conditions for which a supplement is not a good idea, like high blood pressure, to mention only one of many possibilities.
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 advice.
What seems to be a smart formula for making a bestseller of a book on nutrition is coming up with something totally opposite of 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 off your royalties.
By the way, not that the above advice 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 you are consuming enough 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 example of "very sweet stuff" that's 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 possible damage from its 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, as I mentioned earlier, to me, the much more important question is what we are digesting in our minds.
At times, trust me, I wish I had 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?
A long time ago, I stopped fussing over all those questions, basically having a lot of sardines, yogurt, and nuts in 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, and I simply wish they were not.
Which brings me to that story of long ago about Inuit folks and nutritional experts. Now, in all honesty, who would ever go as naïve as to apply the science of nutrition to Inuit eating habits? 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 their diet," with an experiment that involved implementing vitamins, minerals, enzymes, all those goodies into their diet.
So what happened? Did Inuit folks 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 living conditions in war-devastated Europe during 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 80s, without those nutrients that are considered to be "crucial for survival." It is for this kind of thinking that I am sometimes under the impression that we are an awful bunch of softies shaking over our fragile health—so expertly propagated by nutritional and medical establishments.
And yet, I am very far from suggesting to anyone to junk their diets, especially if they were ordered by their doctors. And neither am I saying that your supplements are "worthless." My main message, if there were 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 nutritious 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 cured themselves after using a natural substance that was either deficient in their bodies or stimulated the 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 that put his license on the line, but we are doctoring ourselves, and we could lose more than a "license" by going careless and naively pecking on anything that advertisements may call "miraculous." Let's be conscious of our own biological individuality and its real needs.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.