Worrying reports on diseases continue to take up newspaper columns and have generated positive awareness on health. However instead of taking the trouble to ensure that we eat a balanced diet, we resort to the next best thing – supplements.
For many busy individuals, supplements are an attractive alternative for a quick nutrient boost. A National Health Interview Survey conducted in 2002 noted that more than 62 percent of the respondents have used a supplement in the previous 12 months, a drastic increase from 23.7 percent in 1987.
But are supplements a substitute for a healthful diet?
The New England Journal of Medicine found in a 1994 landmark study conducted in Finland that there is no evidence of a beneficial effect of supplemental vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) or beta carotene in the prevention of lung cancer. This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study revealed another shocking discovery – an 18 percent increase in incidence of lung cancer among smokers who received beta-carotene supplements!
If you think supplemental vitamin C is the panacea to the common cold, research has proven that there is no evidence to suggest this, even with daily doses as high as 2g. With the exception of trials exposing people to extreme physical activity or environmental stress, regularly supplementing the body with vitamin C pills did not seem to effectively ward off the flu virus.
What is the answer then to a healthy diet?
Nutritionist experts advocate eating wholesome plant foods. Eating plant foods can provide the body with nutrition it needs. Plant food are rich in phytochemicals, antioxidants and polysaccharides – nutrients that can effectively strengthen our immune system. Many scientific studies have proven that these nutrients can lower the risk of various cancers effectively as they have cancer-inhibiting properties. According to John Potter, an epidemiologist of the University of Minnesota, almost every step on the path to cancer can be retarded or reversed by one or more compounds in fruits or vegetables.
Foods that are beneficial to our immune system can be found all around us, for example, vegetables, such as cauliflower, cabbage and mushroom, and citrus fruits, like orange and lemons.
Start to take control of your health now by providing your body with a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, instead of blind obsession of harmful supplements.