Supplements are concentrated nutrients added to the diet to raise nutritional status, correct imbalances or deficiencies and address pathology. Dietary supplements are taken as capsules, tablets or liquid extract Supplementation to a nutrient-rich diet is an important part of Hawaii Naturopathic Retreat’s medical nutrition strategy for recovery and maintenance of optimal health.
Why Supplement the Diet?
Supplementation is necessary to enrich a diet lacking all the essential nutrients causing premature aging and illness.
Approximately 40 essential nutrients must be obtained from food because the body cannot synthesize them. Processed foods will not supply these essential vitamins, amino acids and fatty acids. They can only be found in a whole-food diet or through supplementation. For example omega 3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA can be obtained from fish or fish oil supplement. The essential amino acids phenylalanine, methionine and tryptophan can be obtained from healthy animal sources and sesame seeds for vegetarians.
Poor lifestyle habits create nutritional deficiencies and inflammation. Poor lifestyle habits include unhealthy eating, sleep deprivation, job stress, lack of exercise, excessive TV watching and consumption of toxic substances. Nicotine, alcohol and other drugs deplete the body of many essential vitamins and minerals. Poor nutrition resulting from unhealthy eating habits is the result of consuming junk food, processed foods, non-organic foods, canned foods, GMO foods, white sugar, white flour, trans fats, salt, alcohol, soda and coffee or caffeinated drinks.
Commercial farming creates nutritionally deficient foods lacking vitamin and minerals.
Illness itself is a sign of nutritional deficiency where dietary supplementation is necessary to boost the immune system, repair damaged cells and reduce inflammation.
Types of Supplements
Amino Acids and Essential Fatty Acids
Amino acids are essential for major functions of the cell such as repair and maintenance, transportation and storage, defense, communication and energy production. Amino acids are necessary for the synthesis of neurotransmitters and for the treatment of addiction and mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar and schizophrenia. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins that make our muscle mass. Every reaction in the body requires an enzyme, made up of amino acids. They are also a necessary component of hormones and immunoglobulins that make up our endocrine and immune systems. We use dietary supplements in therapeutic doses for any ailment affecting these systems.
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids (EFAs). They are essential because the body cannot make them and we have to get it through our diet (or supplement our diet). Omegas can be found in large amounts in fish and flaxseeds or flaxseed oil. EFAs are responsible for the flexibility and permeability of the cell membrane. EFAs help to reduce inflammation, decrease cardiovascular disease risk, and help maintain cognitive function of the brain. EFAs have been shown to increase survival time in cancer, lower cholesterol, and treat degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis. Autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, psoriasis and Lupus have all improved through supplementing with EFAs.
Antioxidants are compounds such as glutathione, N-acetyl cysteine, alpha lipoic acid, and vitamins C and E, which gather up free radical species generated by the biochemical reactions in our bodies. There is continuing scientific evidence that free radical production is the cause of all degenerative diseases; heart disease, cancer, diabetes and dementia. Free radicals speed up aging by damaging our cells and DNA. Free radical production is a normal by-product of metabolism but it is intensified by poor lifestyle. Supplementation with anti oxidants protects cells from damage and premature death. Removing toxins from circulation is one of our liver’s most important functions. To accomplish detoxification the liver needs ample nutrients such as B vitamins, amino acids and sulfur. The liver’s natural detoxification process creates a large amount of free radicals. Elevated toxin levels overwhelm the detoxification capacity of the liver. These toxins spill over and need to be neutralized by antioxidants. Smoking, alcohol and processed food consumption adds an excess free radical burden that requires extra antioxidants to neutralize the damage. At Hawaii Naturopathic Retreat we use antioxidants in many of our treatments. For instance, in the treatment of nicotine addiction we replenish the body with vitamins C and E. Alcohol addiction requires oral and intravenous alpha lipoic acid and glutathione to heal and regenerate the liver.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin D deficiency is very common and associated with cancer, anemia, diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis and depression. Mineral depleted soils do not provide enough chromium or vanadium, which are essential to the processing of glucose from our diet. Many studies show that magnesium deficiency is common due to a diet lacking in green leafy vegetables, fruits and raw nuts.
Dietary supplements also include herbal remedies taken as a capsule or tincture. We use herbal remedies to treat viral, bacterial and parasitic infections as well as a multitude of chronic illnesses and mental disorders. For instance, herbs such as chamomile, Saint John’s Wort, valerian, passiflora and lavender have been extensively researched and found as efficacious as prescription drugs in the treatment of depression and anxiety without their negative side effects. Fenugreek and Gymnema Sylvester have been found to be useful in the treatment of diabetes. Garlic has shown to lower blood pressure and treat bacterial infection.
Dietary Supplements Are Studied Scientifically
The beneficial outcome of supplementation is derived from evidence-based medicine. Researchers and nutritional companies conduct scientific experiments to show the effects of single supplements on medical conditions, including dosage and treatment time. The results of the studies are only valid for the product tested. Brands that have not been researched may not produce the same results, which is why it is important to use brands that have undergone thorough evaluation. Additionally, high quality supplement companies undergo third party testing to verify the quality and standard of their products.
At Hawaii naturopathic retreat we make individually designed supplement protocols, using clinical information and laboratory results, which are an important part of our successful lifestyle change programs.