Thursday, June 19, 2008

Do You Need a Nutritional Supplement

There are nutritionists that claim vitamins and supplements do less than promised and that we should simply eat healthier whole foods to provide for our dietary needs. These claims are not without merit. Many of the supplements on the market today do not deliver the nutrition that they claim because they are not bioavailable.

Ideally, all of us would derive our complete nutrition from a balanced and wholesome diet. But the reality is that our modern lifestyles make it hard or impossible to find time to prepare the foods that our bodies truly need. It is also inconvenient and very expensive to do. Here are some things to tell you whether you need additional supplementation or more real live whole food nutrition in your diet.

• If you’re not getting multiple servings of a variety of vegetables and fruits every day, it’s unlikely that you’ll be taking in the necessary amounts of minerals and vitamins that you body needs for optimal health.

• If you’re on a restricted-calorie diet, you may not be fulfilling your daily requirements. This is primarily due to not eating a wide variety of foods, which makes it very difficult to get all of the essential nutrition your body needs.

• If you are considering becoming pregnant, or are already pregnant, your body’s needs are different. You’ll need more calcium, iron and folate. The extra iron is needed for red blood cell health, in order to stave off fatigue. Folate is generally recommended to protect against fetal spinal defects, like spina bifida.

• If you are postmenopausal, you need additional nutritional support. This period of life is marked by drops in estrogen production which can lead to bone loss. It’s imperative that you receive additional calcium and vitamin D, which is necessary for your body to process calcium to strengthen bones.

• If you drink alcohol heavily or smoke tobacco, your body’s ability to absorb nutrients can be impaired. Taking supplements won’t reverse the effects of these unhealthy habits, but they may help to offset some of the damage done to your body.

It certainly seems that the majority of us could use additional whole nutrition provided by fruits and vegetables that are recognized by the body instead of synthetic pills that your body has a hard time recognizing because they are manufactured nutrients.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Blueberries - This Months SuperFood

We sing the blues but shouldn't we eat the blues, too? Most of us encounter blueberries very minimally: folded into muffins or sprinkled into fruit salads. However, science has been extremely invested in this pebble-sized super food as of late, conducting countless studies on this small wonder. Let's put it this way: if the blueberry were a Broadway play, a star-studded lineup of nutrients would be on the Playbill.

Little Friends with Big Benefits

Blueberries have a low glycemic index. A ½ cup serving of blueberries is just 40 calories, containing nutrients like potassium and iron as well and vitamin C. Blueberries also provide dietary fiber, in fact, two grams in ½ cup serving. This equals the amount of fiber in a slice of whole wheat bread.

They may be small but they pack a powerful punch. Health Magazine listed blueberries as the top source of antioxidant activity in their Guide to 50 Super Foods a while ago.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, their high level of antioxidants helps the body to slow the process of aging and protect cells against damage.

Blueberries are particularly rich in the antioxidants known as anthocyannins, which are also present in blackberries, radishes, red cabbage, grapes and apples. Blueberries are lovers of the brain. In fact, some neuroscientists call it the brain berry.

The Bluer the Berry

Foods that are blue or purple in hue are often overlooked in our diets. These colors deeply promote urinary tract health, memory function and encourage healthy aging with their vast array of phytochemicals such as phenolics and the aforementioned anthocyannins.

Next time you pass by them in the supermarket, you should swipe a carton or two. Give your body a chance to sing the blues.