Some Thoughts On Diet And Micronutrients

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It’s quite common to see health speakers proclaim the virtues of getting nutrients from your food, and the word proclaim is very appropriate here, as this appears to be by decree than an appeal to reason.  So for instance someone might say, well I believe or we believe that our medicine should primarily come from our food or something to this effect, whereby the belief does exist, but no real rationale is given.

There is probably some philosophical undertones behind this, for instance the fact that medicine from food may be seen as more natural, although natural in itself isn’t a virtue, and is only so if a clear benefit can be established from such naturalness versus an alternative viewed as less so.

There are of course various criteria that one may use for deciding which foods to consume, and among those, one’s palate and one’s means will no doubt play a part, as well as some potential issues that may play a role in one’s health, for instance with things like soy or lectins or other negative influencers upon health.

I don’t think we pay enough attention to these negative influencers actually, and there’s typically both a positive and negative side to things, but these things tend to be chosen with what seems to be a fair bit of bias, avoid sugar or fructose for instance but don’t worry about other things that may be a concern as well, and perhaps an even bigger concern, lectins in particular come to mind.

So a lot of the so called healthy foods are rife with lectins, and this is just one example, we can’t just close our eyes to these things on the basis of what appears to be philosophy, we must instead account for all the factors, both positive and negative, that go into making these decisions, or at least should.

These things deserve an article or articles of their own but here I’m just using this as an example of things that tend to be neglected when folks look to prescribe certain diets.

There is also a tendency to take a polarized and biased view towards certain elements, fructose is an excellent example, which is currently much vilified in certain circles.  There are some issues with fructose consumption but we must be willing to look into the matter with the appropriate amount of regard and not just be willing to jump to conclusions based upon an incomplete or inaccurate understanding of the matter.

So we will end up with a list of both positives and negatives, and among the positives is indeed the enjoyment one may achieve in eating certain things over others, although this rarely gets taken into account, and instead people look to chastise this factor.  Giving this up involves a price and the benefits derived must exceed this lest we become fools, as fashionable as that may be.

When it comes to things like micronutrients, we must always consider the alternatives, in other words obtaining these micronutrients from supplementation rather than food. Given the option, if we insist on getting these nutrients from food, we’re going to need a very good reason to support it, which goes well beyond a mere belief that isn’t even elaborated upon, let alone adequately defended.

When we look at this more closely, while there may be some nutritional benefits that certain foods may contain that may not be available with supplementation, and that may end up tipping the scales in preferring one food over another, we certainly can’t justify it having a small amount of nutrients readily available in supplement form, that’s only a benefit if one seeks to avoid supplements, and that’s a poor idea anyway.

So if people proclaim that they have a food first mentality, I ask where they got this mentality, and why I should have it as well, and in the end this all comes down to their being significantly confused about the matter.  Given that this comes from so called experts often times, this does negatively impact their credibility, at least among those of us who aren’t just looking for a shepherd to guide us that we may follow rather blindly.

I have read and watched a whole lot of material from what we could call holistic practitioners, and a lot of this involves discussions of diet, and there’s no question that their views are way too polarized, looking at certain things and missing out on the big picture really.  Both what they believe are the positives of so called whole diets and real food and the negatives of non whole foods are exaggerated, but I prefer a more balanced and scientific perspective, where we’re supposed to be wary of biases, not promote them shamelessly.

Not being biased is challenging, my biases lie in the fact that I tend to pay a lot of attention to what you could call hedonistic concerns, but I try to keep a balanced view and someone needs to bring up these issues because they are so seldom advanced.

So for instance we do tend to stuff our faces way too much with sugar, there’s no question that we overindulge in this, and there may be some concerns, with some people anyway.  So this becomes a matter of weighing the positives and the negatives, and the negatives may even be trivial, and the positives may be overwhelming actually, in some cases at least.

With us, as diabetics, the negatives of overconsumption of sugar are going to be more obvious and serious, and it’s going to be more important for us to monitor this of course.  I’ve had a devil of a time explaining to a lot of hard core low carbers that this isn’t just a one sided affair though, enjoyment does factor into it, and this is not merely a game of avoiding potential negative influencers, and the contributions of positive influencers must always be at least taken into account.

Getting back to micronutrients, you can’t even get therapeutic amounts in food anyway, and the amounts under ideal circumstances may be enough to prevent a frank deficiency of something, even though these days even that can be a big challenge, and sometimes even out of reach.

Most importantly, when you look at the levels of micronutrients people get eating the diets they do, they tend to fall well short with some very important ones, and we’re not talking treating anything even, we’re speaking of disease states resulting from outright deficiencies, and even if you could resolve this with diet, why would you have to or even want to, when this can be done much more easily through proper supplementation?

The mantra these days should be to not rely on your diet for micronutrients actually, as this creates a false sense of security, and often times the diet that people seek here is one that contains a lot of anti-nutrients that may actually make the situation worse, which is the case with many forms of whole foods, grains, seeds, and nuts for instance.

There are a lot of considerations that need to go into selecting a diet, but many of the things can be made up for with the right supplements.  Some may call this counterproductive, others may see it as practical, and in any case, solutions should be the goal, the best ones, overall, including taking into account one’s culinary preferences.

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