Our food production methods coupled with the burgeoning of the fast food industry and poor cooking methods play a key role in depriving our bodies of important nutrients. When nutrient deficiencies interact with high levels of stress and little or no exercise, they result in lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, etc. It is clear from the growing incidence of lifestyle diseases that the food that we eat today does not provide us with optimum nutrients required to maintain a positive state of health.
Fresh fruits and vegetables provide adequate nutrients if they are picked when ripe and eaten immediately. Today that is not possible as they are picked before they are ripe and then treated with chemicals to `appear’ ripe but do not have the nutritional value of ripe vegetables. These `fresh’ fruits and vegetables lose more nutrients as they travel from the farm to your kitchen.
Once in the kitchen, we overcook, deep fry, mishmash our food and even reheat the left overs thus causing nutritional disasters. Such food has less than 25% of the original nutrient value left in it. Therefore, we cannot think of getting adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals only through food. Micronutrient deficiencies over a period of time reflect in terms of falling hair, lacklustre skin, weight gain, uncontrollable hunger, sugar cravings, low energy levels, mood swings, skin rash, etc.
The polishing of rice into `polished white rice’ and the refining of wheat into `maida’ adds to the probability of multi-nutrient deficiencies. Such food not only fails to nourish us, but also robs us of other nutrients in order to get metabolised, creating a shortage of chromium, B-complex, magnesium and zinc in the body. As we age, our capacity to assimilate nutrients decreases due to inadequate hydrochloric acid. Frequent intake of antibiotics upset the intestinal flora creating a shortage of beneficial bacteria.
Many people don’t like taking vitamin and mineral supplements, as they want to get everything from the diet. I truly wish this was possible, but this route just doesn’t work in this modern world. Today, we are exposed to more environmental pollutants than ever before. Cigarette smoke, smog, chemicals in our drinking water, increased alcohol intake etc., cause more free radical generation in our body and our food does not give us enough antioxidants to defend ourselves against these toxins. Therefore, there is a need to take vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
How to get adequate antioxidants into your body?
The best way to get your antioxidants is to drink freshly prepared vegetable juices such as Barley grass , carrot, coriander, cucumber, mint, pomegranate, spinach, tomato and wheatgrass.
Also take supplements containing vitamin A, C, E and selenium. Choose fresh fruits over canned juices. Avoid boiling or overcooking your vegetables. You must steam, stir-fry, lightly cook or eat them raw. Consume omega–3 supplements as they reduce the damage caused by pollutants. These fats are found in the alsi seeds, fish, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, and almonds. Avoid polyunsaturated-fatty-acids-based oils derived from sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, cottonseed, and corn which can turn rancid easily. Instead try to use mustard oil, sesame oil and olive oil that are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids.
Antioxidants help to rev up your immunity. Even those who exercise regularly also need to take supplements of antioxidants as exercise generates more free radicals.
The key to keeping fit in today’s world is to back up your body’s own defence system by taking your vitamin supplements, along with health promoting lifestyle changes.