Thursday, January 31, 2008

Food: More than the Sum of Its Parts

A recent study published in The Annals of Internal Medicine showed that selenium supplements, taken to help prevent cancer, may actually cause more harm than good. This is not unlike the study done many years ago that showed that beta-carotene supplements which were intended to ward off lung cancer actually increased its likelihood. Why is it that anytime a food correlates with wellness, scientists try to pinpoint the nutrient responsible and then repackage it as a supplement? Is it because we as a society are used to improving our health with pills?

Perhaps it's easier for us to pop a Vitamin C tablet than to peel and eat an orange. And it's definitely more profitable for the food industry to sell us supplements, tinctures, and fortified foods than to forfeit their profits to the produce section. But, in the end, can you really improve upon mother nature? For reasons that science has yet to identify (but which commonsense seems to dictate), food is more than the sum of its nutrients. You may be able to pinpoint and isolate all of the antioxidants found in a carrot but you can't beat the health benefits to be reaped when these nutrients are consumed in their original packaging.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so right. At one point I was poppin' something like 20 supplmenets a day and didn't really know what I was getting out of it. I didn't feel any better. All that seemed to change when I quit was that I had $120 more in my pocket each month.

7:06 PM  

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