Nutrition Myth 10: 'Food' is Always superior to 'Supplements'

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This myth can also be seen as ‘natural’ foods vs ‘synthetic’ foods or ‘chemicals’. How often do you see the word ‘Natural’ emphasised on the front of a food packet, or hear that it’s better to eat natural foods, rather than foods filled with ‘chemicals’?

To some, nutritional supplements are taboo, as they are crammed full of harmful substances that are bad for our health, and we should be consuming only natural foods that we are ‘designed’ to eat. Now, there are a few problems with the idea that supplements are inherently inferior, or even harmful to our health.

First of all, let’s address the big elephant in the room: everything contains chemicals. Like, everything. So the presence of chemicals shouldn’t dissuade you from eating or drinking something, or worry you when eating something.

Now, as we have mentioned to all of our members numerous times before, most supplements on the market are essentially useless. Most have been shown to have no benefits to our health or wellness, and are only popular due to good marketing. There are, however, a few exceptions; whey protein, creatine monohydrate and multivitamins being a good example. Now, I am not saying these are necessarily superior to real food, but nor are they necessarily inferior.

And, in fact, there are a few examples of substances that are actually more bioavailable in supplemental form - meaning they are better absorbed and used by the body as supplements. Two good examples are curcumin (turmeric) and Vitamin K1. Curcumin, on its own, cannot be effectively absorbed by our bodies, but when supplemented with piperine (black pepper extract) its absorption rate increases dramatically. Vitamin K1 similarly is far better absorbed when in supplemental form.

Now, we still recommend our clients to try and follow a whole foods diet whenever possible, but we can’t be too absolute in our thinking, and sometimes supplements have a place in our diet, and even be a better option than so-called ‘real’ food (obviously dependent on circumstances). Things are rarely black & white when it comes to nutrition, and we must always bear that in mind