Nutritional Medicine and Supplementation for Health
Nutritional medicine is the selective use of isolated food components to achieve therapeutic results. Remember, Nutritional Medicine is basically Biochemistry. A simple way of looking at it is the manipulation of fundamental biochemistry by understanding the basic macro- and micronutrient needs of the body during health and disease and setting out to match these particular requirements. Unlike pharmaceutical medicine, the aim is to replace and provide natural fuels to fundamental body processes rather than artificial alteration. An underlying premise is that in most instances this will allow improved health and wellness at far less risk for the individual being treated.
Is Nutritional Medicine Safe?
In most instances, Nutritional Medicine is very safe when compared to pharmaceutical drugs. It should not, however, be assumed that it is without risk , particularly when high doses are used of any particular nutrient especially when in isolation, or when supplementation occurs concurrently with the use of pharmaceutical medicine.
Is it Effective?
Most definately. Growing evidence suggests Nutritional Medicine can be very beneficial both in coordination with, and as an alternative to, the use of drugs.
So why is there less Evidence than Pharmaceutical Medicines?
This has probably as much to do with the politics of Evidenced Based Medicine as anything else. The bottom line is that nutritional supplements cannot be patented. This is an enormous disincentive for study as any money placed into research by a company demonstrates results that everyone else can use, with no exclusive right of use to the product.
Does Nutritional Medicine work as quickly as Pharmaceutical Medicine?
No, it usually does not. This is an important point to consider. During acute conditions, pharmaceutical medicine can be the best option, however the simultaneous use of Nutritional Medicine can be very beneficial in reducing the need for the high risk prescription drugs over the long term as well as minimising the risk of reoccurrence. Most nutritional regimes should be trialed for 3 months, with some effect in the first month, more in the second and maximum in the third. Please note that some nutrients may exert their effects very quickly (eg. probiotics, magnesium) whilst other regimes (eg. for skin) may take up to 6 months to reach their full effects. Thus the most beneficial approach to your problem may be the integration of pharmaceutical, nutritional and ultimately, Lifestyle Medicine if you are to achieve the optimal health outcome with the least risk of side effect.
What about Preventative Supplementation?
You should think about preventative supplementation as an insurance policy against suboptimal nutrition. In fact, you may believe you are on a generally healthy diet, perhaps you are, but your own individual circumstances means you may have higher needs for various nutrients. In this case, a preventative supplement programme may be beneficial in maintaining your health.
Can you Eat Poorly and Rely on a Supplement to Save?
No. Your supplement insurance only comes when used in conjunction with a healthy diet. Furthermore there are rarely more than 40 nutrients in a supplement, yet the body makes use of over 10,000 phytonutrients derived from plants, each with individual benefits.
What are Some of the Reasons your Nutrient Needs may not be met by your Diet?
These include: Your diet is poor to begin with. You have poor gastrointestinal function reducing nutrient absorption You drink excess alcohol You smoke You are extremely stressed You have medical conditions which require higher levels of some nutrients You are on medications such as antibiotics, corticosteroids, the oral contraceptive pill etc etc You use poor cooking methods e.g. deep frying You have increased needs due to pregnancy, lactation or other life stages (growth spurts) s your food coming from an area of nutrient depletion? (e.g. Magnesium on East Coast Australia) You have specific genetic or disease related require