Part of what I do as a consultant dietitian and product specialist at Ascendis Direct is to attend to comprehensive or special customer queries that would have been filtered by the customer service team for me. I enjoy this task as it somehow affords me an opportunity to engage customers and educate them holistically about nutrition and the role health supplements play in their lives. As a healthcare professional I have learnt that there is a lot of confusion around the role of health supplements and how they fit into the bigger nutrition and health picture. One of the frequently asked questions, especially by new recruits is: “I eat healthy, so do I still need health supplements?”
The truth is that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important, and the month of February in South Africa is for raising awareness around a healthy lifestyle. Good nutrition being one of the core pillars of a healthy lifestyle.
There is a lot of noise – information on the internet is confusing on supplements and this just adds on the pressure in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. Most people have become super busy, resulting in more people opting for more convenient foods which mostly have a poor nutrient profile. This has made it very questionable for one to fully say that they eat healthy – because even the definition of ‘healthy’ itself has been distorted by society. We also know that certain lifestyle choices, stress, excessive exercise, high alcohol consumption, smoking and even taking certain medications, all impact on our nutrient levels. It does not end there. Agriculturally the nutrient profile of our soils has become poor and employed processes from soil to table (cooking) can also significantly reduce nutrient quantity in our food.
As the cherry on top, the rate of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart & heart related diseases, to name a few has increased significantly, and we know that living with such diseases increases nutrients needs. Moreover, chronic medication also affects the absorption of vitamins and minerals resulting in even more nutrient deficiencies.
FOOD is fundamental, it starts with food which is what nature gives us. Nutrients are better absorbed and used up by the body when they are from FOOD. Food does not only give us micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants but also offers us macronutrients such as carbohydrates, fat, and protein as well energy which we do not get from health supplements. The purpose of health supplements as the name supplement suggests, is to supplement the diet and not to replace food. Health supplements are a convenient and scientific way of filling gaps that for reasons mentioned above and more, our current diet have.
The key to it all is that one needs to identify the gaps that their diet might have and then choose the right health supplements to help close those gaps. In that way health supplements can SAFELY be part of a healthy lifestyle and significantly help optimize health and improve one’s quality of life.
Yours in health