The best place to find your essential vitamins and minerals – those that run the body’s systems and protect it from disease – is in the foods that are chalked full of them. Though multivitamins are an excellent way to “supplement” your daily intake of nutrients, they aren’t your first place to get them and they aren’t the most important.
We were all built in a way that ensures food is our source of medicine.
Food has to be our nutritional basis. We are still discovering what certain foods have to offer, meaning they still hold undiscovered health benefits. Whole foods (unrefined) can give you a whole consortium of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fiber, and other health-promoting substances. Whole foods consist largely of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
The ultimate goal is optimal health. Supplements can help you reach that goal, but they are called that for a reason: they supplement the important natural nutrients and chemicals found in foods. These days, 80% of American adults do not get enough fruit and vegetables in their diet. This sole fact immediately puts your body at greater risk of disease. And for those who live with a health condition, it makes it that much harder for your body to recover.
The best foods, those with the richest reservoir of nutrients, are those that are organic, whole, and the least touched by the giant food manufacturing business. They will deliver maximum health to us. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lentils, fish and low-fat dairy products are the world’s most healthful foods.
Nine ‘Other’ Things to Consider Beyond Vitamins and Minerals
Finding nutrients in food is the best, because alongside those select vitamins and minerals, there could be a slew of amazingly healthful substances in that food as well. Here is a quick peek at the kinds of nutrients we don’t think about as often, but which pack extraordinary powers within our body:
• Phytochemicals: These are found in plants. They are not nutrients but they are proven to protect our body from disease. There are thousands of them in plants, which produce them to protect themselves. That same protection flows into our body when we eat vegetables and fruit.
• Flavonoids: These natural chemicals give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors. Flavonoids also put vitamin C to work, promote fast healing, and contain antioxidant and/or antibacterial properties. There are thousands of different kinds that fit into about a dozen categories. They are extremely good for the body.
• Polyphenols: Found in many plants, this substance also contributes to bright colors, and contains antioxidants. They are in a slew of vegetables, and are in high concentration within the skin of fruit. Maybe you’ve heard of “tannins” in wine—these are polyphenols.
• Carotenoids: Responsible for red, orange, and yellow hues found in plants and fruit. The most famous one is beta-carotene, which is an important source of vitamin A. They are believed to be powerful antioxidants. Lycopene, the substance that makes tomatoes so good for our hearts, is a carotenoid.
• Unsaturated fats: Several kinds of healthy fats can be obtained from plant material. For instance, linoleic acid is derived from the yellow oils of linseed, poppy, hemp and some nuts. Linolenic, meanwhile, is also found in plants and has been linked to good health in many studies.
• Anthocyanins: These plant colorings give the bluish tint to blueberries and the red to raspberries. These are flavonoids with potent antioxidant properties. They may be particularly healthy for diabetics or people at risk of diabetes, as anthocyanins have been found to boost insulin production.
• Isoflavones: Found in all soy products, isoflavones bear a strong resemblance to the body’s own hormone, estrogen. This is responsible for many benefits, including preventing heart disease, osteoporosis, prostate cancer, and breast cancer.
• Indoles: Major anticancer substances found in cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, dark green leafy vegetables, cauliflower, etc). Indoles may be responsible for the reduced cancer risk in people who eat large amounts of cauliflower, kale and cabbage.
• Fiber: Found in many pieces of produce, fiber keeps your digestive system running smoothly. That, in turn, prevents many illnesses from occurring.
Yours in good health,
Dr. Victor Marchione, M.D.
Bel Marra Nutritionals
About the Author
Dr. Marchione is a respected leader in the field of smoking cessation and pulmonary medicine. He has been featured on ABC News and World Report, CBS Evening News and the NBC Today Show and is the editor of the popular The Food Doctor newsletter and is also the chief formulator at Bel Marra Nutritionals. He is also a contributor to the Doctors Health e-Bulletin, a free daily e-zine providing up-to-date health discoveries, advice and breakthroughs. For more information please visit www.doctorshealthpress.com