|Chapter 9. Chemicals, Chemicals,
Chemicals: Supplements and Over the
If you haven’t been following the latest developments in nutritional supplement science, you might again feel like
Woody Allen in Sleeper, being told that what you once thought was good for you is now bad for you.
I freely admit, I have been duped. For years, I took multivitamin/mineral pills. Now studies show that even these
simple pills have no benefit and may cause harm. Even the medical profession is coming around on this issue. In
late 2013, the journal Annals of Internal Medicine published a series of vitamin studies accompanied by an
editorial entitled, “enough is enough: stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements.” They said, “[beta]
-carotene, vitamin E, and possibly high doses of vitamin A supplements are harmful. Other antioxidants, folic acid
and B vitamins, and multivitamin and mineral supplements are ineffective for preventing mortality or morbidity due
to major chronic diseases . . . we believe that the case is closed–supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults
with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful.” For the average
healthy adult, vitamins are unnecessary. However, for women who are or may become pregnant, consultation
with a physician is appropriate before making a decision about vitamins and minerals.
Fortified or enriched foods.
Vitamins and minerals not only come in pills, they can be added to food. Did you ever wonder how so many
breakfast cereals provide exactly 25% of the recommended dose of a host of nutrients? It is because the cereal
effectively contains a multivitamin/mineral pill mixed in with the grain. Manufacturers generally use the term
“fortified” or “enriched” on the product’s label to alert you that chemicals have been added. The government
reports that commonly fortified products include:
• Rice and other whole cereal grains
• Flours, cornmeal, bread and pasta
• Breakfast cereals
• Milk and milk products like yogurt and soy milk
• Fats and oils like margarine
• Salt, monosodium glutamate, sugar and sauces
• Tea and fruit juices
If you want to avoid chemicals in your food, watch out for fortified or enriched products. Further, if you feel the
need to supplement your diet with a multivitamin/mineral pill as 67% of Americans do, understand that you may
be duplicating the pill’s effect if you consume fortified or enriched foods.
It seems like every day there is a new report that chemicals we once thought were good for us are actually bad
for us. Did you use antibacterial soap? I did. But now the government says that plain soap is just as effective as
antibacterial soap, and that the common antibacterial ingredient triclosan (also found in Colgate’s Total
toothpaste) may have a harmful effect on human hormones. How about mouthwash? A new study concludes that
mouthwashes containing the chemical chlorhexidine kill useful bacteria in the mouth that help to control blood
pressure. Simply using mouthwash resulted in increased blood pressure in the subjects that raised their risk of
stroke by 10% and heart disease by 7%. How about foot powder? Harmless, right? But by killing off useful flora on
the foot, it could do more harm than good. Sunscreen? Some of the chemicals used in sunscreen may be
hazardous to your health, some studies show that sunscreen use is correlated with higher rates of skin cancer,
and sunscreen use has been implicated in creating unhealthy reductions in vitamin D metabolism.
It seems the more we learn, the more we learn to question chemical use. I am not suggesting that you do not use
foot powder or mouthwash, but I am suggesting that you only use chemicals based on a need, not on a fear. So,
use foot powder only if you have athlete’s foot, instead of in case you get it. Take aspirin because you are sore,
not because you fear you may become sore. Take vitamins based on a medically identified need instead of taking
them, “just in case.” The more we learn, the more we learn that chemicals are not harmless and sometimes they
have unintended consequences.
|Do you know more than God (or Mother Nature)?
Whether man is the product of divine creation or natural selection, we are extremely complex beings built to
function in a natural, un-supplemented world. Outside of when there is a specific disease process or medical
need, man’s meddling with the human system has done more harm than good. If you have a specific medical
need that calls for nutritional supplements or medications, you should follow medical advice. However, a
multibillion dollar industry exists to make you think that you need supplements. Humans love the idea of a magic
pill and the industry is ready to take your money and provide you with one. However, absent a medical need, the
pill is at best a waste of money and at worst harmful. When it comes to nutritional supplements, I suggest this
maxim, “when in doubt, take the natural route.” A wide range of natural, healthful foods provides all the nutrition
that a normal, healthy adult needs.
Use your free annual check up to ease your mind.
The Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, requires health plans to provide a free annual checkup and
related laboratory tests. Take advantage of this free information when you start your diet and get medical advice.
Ask your doctor to conduct tests to see if you are lacking any nutrient, or if your position in life puts you at risk of
nutritional deficiencies. Absent medical advice to take supplements, get your nutrition from food, not chemicals.
|Vegans, people over 50, and vitamin B-12.
Both vegans and people over 50 have some risk of being low on vitamin B-12. Following the Simply Fit Diet vegan
path, you can have animal products once every six meals or so, therefore vitamin B-12 deficiency is unlikely.
Further, only about 30% of people over 50 are at risk of vitamin B-12 deficiency, so taking it just in case may be
unnecessary. Once again, I recommend having a blood test to see if this deficiency exists, instead of
automatically taking chemicals.
Over the counter drugs.
The human body maintains a delicate balance that can be thrown off by consuming chemicals. Like many, I
formerly consumed over the counter drugs without much thought. I figured that if they are available without
medical supervision, they could not be too strong or dangerous. However, that is not true.
Personally, I became dependant upon omeprazole, sold as Prilosec. This drug is used to treat an acid stomach.
The instructions say not to take it for more than two weeks. I asked my doctor about this and he said it was just
an exculpatory warning and that most everyone took it on a regular basis. So I did. However, over time the drug
became less and less effective. I also developed increasingly painful arthritis in an ankle I had hurt long ago. After
some research I learned that Prilosec is implicated in limiting calcium absorption and can cause the exact type of
arthritis symptoms I was suffering. It was quite difficult to taper off and quit Prilosec. I felt like I had a stomach full
of hydrochloric acid, but after I quit, my arthritis symptoms lessened significantly. Recent research has also linked
proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec to an increased risk of heart disease.
Another over the counter drug generally labeled safe is melatonin. I have taken it on occasion to sleep better.
However, for me and for many other users, melatonin causes a spike in blood sugar. I did not know this and was
never warned of it. I only discovered it when I began testing my blood sugar on some mornings and found an
inexplicable spike after taking the drug. Of course, I have discontinued it.
As time passes and I accumulate life experience, I more clearly see the wisdom of avoiding drugs and chemicals
wherever possible. The human body has an enormous ability to heal and regulate itself. Man’s chemical
interventions into this area often do more harm than good. When in doubt, take the natural route.
Chemicals are often added to manufactured foods for the convenience of the manufacturer, to give the food
longer shelf life or to increase its marketability to consumers. Check out a few food labels on the shelves of a
convenience store. You will likely be surprised by the list of chemicals. On the Simply Fit Diet you will get the
greatest substance of your nutrition from single ingredient whole foods. A side effect of the Simply Fit Diet is that
you will substantially reduce your consumption of chemicals added to manufactured foods.
In conclusion, when it comes to taking nutritional supplements, over the counter drugs and medicinal chemicals,
you should take them based on a medically identified need, not based on hope, fear, or habit. If you need to take
drugs, go ahead and take them. But when in doubt, take the natural route.
|All original contents copyright 2018.