What you think about whole food supplement formulas.

by Deb
(US)

Hi Brett, I wanted to ask what you think about whole food supplement formulas. There seems to be so many companies promoting whole food supplements right now. Is it the next big thing in nutritional supplements?


Thanks,
Deb


Brett's Answer

Hi Deb,

Great question and it's bound to be one of the most popular ones for my readers.

Well, whole foods are certainly the way to go but whether you should get them through supplements is what I will address for you below.

I must say that (finally) a large part of the population seems to be starting to understand the importance of eating reasonable amounts of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables everyday as a means of staying healthy and preventing life threatening disease such as cancer.

And through massive media exposure, messages such as the 'Eat 5 A Day' and 'More Is Better' are getting through and people are becoming more educated on issues of sound nutrition for good health.

It seems like every few months or so scientists are discovering yet another key health benefit that comes from those miraculous phytonutrients contained in vegetables and fruits.

In fact it's hard not to be aware of these key nutritional health messages these days unless you’re a hermit or a recluse with no TV or other connections to the outside world. The messages are everywhere and since most people have access to the internet they are seeing them regularly.

BUT….. are people following these messages?

Not really!

And that's the problem Deb!

Now more than every, people are looking for that magic bullet in the form of a tablet or supplement that will keep them healthy while still allowing them to continue consuming nutritionally poor diets full of great tasting processed and junk foods, and largely devoid of useful quantities of vegetables and fruits.

In other words people want to keep eating for taste rather than for health!

So thanks to the clever and somewhat misleading marketing presentations of certain supplement companies, many people now think that if they are not consuming the necessary amounts of vegetables and fruits in their diets they can just swallow a whole food supplement each day to make up the difference.

Ahhhh, if only it was that easy!

The manufacturers of these supplements are not presenting the whole truth (which is pretty normal for the majority of supplement manufacturers out there).

They are playing on peoples want and need to eat properly (and probably on their fears as well) but their products fall well short on what they claim they will do for you.

So, let me be clear here:

It is a bad and risky decision when it comes to your health and wellness, to take whole food supplements as a substitute for real vegetables and fruits.

Why?

Simply put, it's because you would have to be taking tons of handfuls of these supplements each day to be getting the equivalent nutritional value that comes from eating fresh fruits and vegetables.

As I said above whole foods as fruits and veggies are definitely what you want but they should be taken as part of your regular diet. To take them in supplement form is simply not a practical solution for health conscious consumers.

Consider these facts and numbers and you'll understand what I mean:

When preparing a whole food (fruit or vegetable) for use in supplements, the water must be removed by either spray or freeze drying the food.

The amount of food left is usually within a ratio range of 10:1 and 5:1.

In other words if you had a supplement containing say 500mg of a particular freeze dried whole food then that would be equal to between 2.5 – 5 grams of the real fruit or vegetable.

Consider that in relation to an average sized banana (which weighs approximately 125 grams). So, our 500 mg supplement provides the gross weight and nutritional value of only about 1/25th to 1/50th of a banana! That's one TINY bite of the Banana.

It also means you'd have to swallow 25 to 50 (500 mg) supplements just to equal one average banana!

Wow!

But there's more to consider Deb!

During the preparation process prior to encapsulation, the freeze dried food must be sterilized and milled. Then after being bottled it must be distributed to the retail points and then sit in storage for who knows how long before it finally reaches you.

Is it worth it?

"Why would I want to buy a bottle of whole foods in a supplement when one good meal will provide the same amount of nutrients as a month’s supply of the supplement form and cost a HUGE amount less?"

To benefit from whole food supplements you would need to have an absolutely abominably bad diet. Only then would the tiny whole food nutritional value of these supplements (taken at the recommended daily dose) be of any real help.

But for the average person whose diet contains some but far from enough fruits and vegetables, the volume of whole food capsules that would be needed to amount to any real benefit would be ridiculously high.

And the example above deals with only one bite of one type of fruit.

You need a WIDE range of different colored fruits and vegetables every single day to supply you with the broad spectrum of nutrients your body needs to function correctly and especially to counter the effects of ever increasing free radical loads.

And keep in mind that MANY of the powerful phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables are anti-cancer promoters – and we can never get enough of those right!

So Deb, my opinion is that whole food supplements simply don't stack up nutritionally or economically (despite what their manufacturer's clever spin might say).

All the best and stay well.

Brett


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Apr 08, 2008
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I will be more specific
by: Brett

Thanks for commenting.

It is easy for people to become a little confused with this topic.

That's because on one hand it sounds as if we are saying there are not enough nutrients in food so you must take supplements, and then, if taken on face value without reading through the details adequately, it can be mistakenly seen that by decreasing the value of wholefood supplements, and saying people should eat natural foods, it can sound contradictory.

So I need to be more specific here.

What you have said in your comment is something that we both agree on.

Soils ARE depleted, nutrients ARE lacking in natural foods (wholefoods) "AT THE LEVELS WE NEED THEM TO BE FOR SOLE DIETARY HEALTH". Therefore nutritional supplementation IS needed for optimum health to make up for these deficits.

However, where wholefood supplements are concerned, as I mentioned in my original response to Deb, there is very little value.

This is because the source of these wholefoods are in fact the "whole foods" that I mentioned above. The only difference is that these are processed and put into supplement form for convenience.

So, wholefood supplements are taking "whole food" nutrients, that are already lacking in their natural raw form, and depleting them further by freeze drying them and processing them.

All kinds of processing of whole foods to get them into a dry powder or liquid form carries the detriment of stripping the whole food further of essential amino acids and enzymes which they would normally contain to help digestion.

It also lessens your body's normal function of digesting such foods. So this action has a 2-fold effect - processed foods that lack even more nutrients than in their raw form, and making the body lazy in digestive processes that would otherwise help it to keep healthy.

Wholefoods, in their natural (raw)form, although lacking in essential nutrients that we can now only get from supplementation (of nutritional elements, NOT whole food supplements), do still have many good nutritional and digestive benefits to help keep the body as healthy and as functional as possible.

I hope this clarifies what I was trying to get across in my response to Deb's original question.


Stay well

Brett

Apr 06, 2008
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Misleading with no real knowledge of whole food supplements.
by: Anonymous

You are right about the supplement industry.Buyer beware,most of the vitamins/supplements sold are junk.You are misleading the public about the nutritional value of most food available for human consumption..Mineral depletion from soil during the past 100 years shown by science is telling us that we are eating empty food.North American soil is 85% depleted.South American Soil-76%,Europe-72%,Asia-76%.The need for real organic whole food supplements is overwhelming.The key is to find real supplements from a real company.

Mar 09, 2008
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Great answer
by: Anonymous

Thanks for a great answer. I have been taking a whole food supplement but not anymore. I know understand what a waste of money its been!

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