Supplements and nutrition play a key role in developing a healthy, vital body. Without the right fuel the human body is unable to perform at its best. The concept of ‘what you put in is what you get out’ definitely applies when it comes to the human body!
Nutrition and Health Goals
I believe that it is important to structure your nutritional plan in line with your goals and targets. On the ‘personal development‘ page I emphasise the importance of clarifying your goals and I have also mentioned this in relation to exercise and fitness. Focusing on the reasons why you are committed to achieving a goal provides the motivation to follow through and take action. This approach can also be used when developing and adhering to your supplement and nutrition plan.
Individualised Nutrition and Health Plans
I am a realist and I appreciate that people’s diets are likely to differ. This is the way it should be, because we all have different nutritional requirements and we all have different goals. We don’t all want to look and feel the same as each other, which is why our health and wellness plans need to differ. I also understand that circumstance can affect food choices. In particular, social events can present difficulties, as can eating in restaurants and eating with friends and family.
For these reasons I do not prescribe a one-size-fits-all nutrition and health plan in The Complete Health Toolkit. That is not feasible, nor is it appropriate. Instead my intention is to arm readers with the tools and knowledge to enable them to determine their own nutritional requirements. There are two elements to this: calculating and monitor calorific intake and expenditure, as well as choosing the right kinds of foods to suit individual health and wellness goals.
I don’t encourage anyone to go on a ‘diet’. When I used to explain this to my Personal Training clients with weight management targets, my words were normally met with a sigh of relief! Most people know that diets and quick fixes rarely work, but are unaware of the alternatives. I teach the principles of proper nutrition, with an emphasis on tailoring nutritional intake depending on goals and desired outcomes. I showed my clients how to apply these principles to achieve long-term results, which is something they can continue to use for the rest of their lives. They now know that if their goals change then they simply need to adjust their nutritional plan to suit.
I strongly recommend investing the time and effort to learn what is contained in the Complete Health Toolkit, if you wish to develop an appropriate nutrition and health plan for yourself (in line with your goals). Scroll down to the bottom of the page for your free evaluation copy.
The Role of Nutrients for Health
Nutrients play a very important role within the human body. Not only do they affect body weight and body shape, but they also affect energy levels, mood and overall health and wellness.
Whether an individual is a regular exerciser, or someone who is simply interested in maintaining a basic level of health, it is important to be conscious of the types and quantities of food that are consumed. Each of the macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients described in the Complete Health Toolkit play a vital role within the human body and deficiencies or over-consumption can adversely affect the body’s function. A suitable balance of each is essential for optimal health. The key nutrients that are discussed in detail in The Complete Health Toolkit are as follows:
- Carbohydrates (starch, complex carbohydrates and simple sugars)
- Fats (unsaturated and saturated – good and bad!)
- Essential Vitamins (water and fat soluble)
- Key Minerals
The roles and benefits of each of these nutrients are discussed to help health conscious individuals in developing an individualised nutritional plan, as well as to provide support on making informed food choices. There are also examples of good and bad practices, as well as advice on how to avoid processed foods and the reasons why this is so important.
Understanding Nutritional Supplement Needs
In an ideal world, there would be no need for anyone to support their diets with nutritional supplements. The unfortunate reality is that the majority of people’s diets are deficient is some essential nutrients. This is largely due to the increasingly toxic environment that we live in. In addition to this, a lot of the food that we eat today is devoid of adequate nutrients to meet the body’s needs.
More often than not, it is the micro-nutrients that are not obtained in sufficient quantities. There are a number of reasons for this:
Firstly, we are seeing a trend where individuals consume less fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables provide us with many of the essential minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that the body needs to function properly, as well as protecting the cells of our bodies from free radical damage.
Secondly, the fruit and vegetables that we usually consume have lost some of their nutritional value. There is invariably a time delay between when these foods are harvested and when we consume them, which leads to diminished nutritional value. Furthermore, nutrients are lost during the cooking process, so the product we eventually eat is far inferior to the product that was taken from the source.
Thirdly, people today have a greater demand for micro-nutrients than people did a number of years ago. This is in response to increasing levels of harmful pollutants in the atmosphere, contaminants in the water supply, lifestyle choices and even day to day stress. Each of these factors will affect an individual’s needs for vitamins and antioxidants due to increased levels of free radical activity within the body.
If free radicals are not removed then they can contribute to the development of degenerative diseases such as heart disease, strokes and cancer. The role of micro-nutrients (in particular antioxidants) within the human body is to safeguard our cells against free radical damage by neutralising these harmful toxins.
Conditions such as Obesity and Diabetes are largely caused by poor dietary choices. Typically, high calorific foods contribute to Obesity, but the role of high glycemic foods cannot be overlooked either. High glycemic foods (high Glycemic Index) are those which sugar very quickly once inside your body. These include sweets, cakes and refined carbohydrates (white bread, white pasta, etc.). When consumed, these initially cause rapid increases in blood sugar levels and the body responds by producing insulin to regulate the sugar levels in the blood stream. As blood sugar levels drop back down, you can experiences a lack of energy and cravings for high glycemic foods (carbohydrate cravings), often resulting in the consumption of more similar foods!
If you regularly succumb to your cravings, this will increase your calorific intake. Over a period of time your body may also become unable to adjust to these fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which can in turn lead to the onset of type II Diabetes (poor insulin response).
If you have weight management goals, concerns about diabetes, or are a health conscious individual who is always on the go, then low glycemic, nutritionally balanced meal replacements and healthy snacking options can be useful.
Personal care products range from shower gels, shampoos and toothpastes to skincare and cosmetic products. Many of these types of products are necessary for basic hygiene and others are necessary in order to repair and protect the skin. The skin is the largest organ of the body and is bombarded by free radicals from both the outside and the inside, on a daily basis. It is just as important for us to look after our skin, as it is all other organs of our bodies. Care must be taken when selecting products, as chemical preservatives can cause irritation or even damage.
Supplements and Health Goals
If you appreciate the benefits of using nutritional supplements then it is important not to rush into any decisions about which products to purchase. There is a vast difference in the quality of the different products available today. Below is some guidance on how to compare and evaluate different products to ensure that you are choosing the right supplements for your needs.
Evaluating Nutritional Supplements
There are many very good (as well as very bad!) nutritional supplement brands and products on the market today and it is important to understand that not all supplements are created equally. If you are putting anything into your body, then I believe it is important to ensure it is of the highest quality and that it will actually do what it is designed to do for you.
From my personal research I have found that there are a number of factors which affect the quality and the effectiveness of nutritional supplements. They are as follows:
Solubility defines how easily a supplement dissolves into the blood stream, so that the nutrients can get to the cells where they are needed. There are both water soluble and fat soluble micro-nutrients, but regardless of the type, it is imperative that any supplements you choose are able to disintegrate and the nutrients contained are able to dissolve fully.
If a nutritional supplement does not break down then the essential nutrients in that product will not reach the cells where they are needed.
Bioavailability is a term describing how readily the nutrients in a product are actually absorbed into the bodys cells. The nutrients should be in a suitable form and in correct ratios for maximum absorption. This balance can only really be achieved through advanced research and development as many micro-nutrients work in synergy with others (i.e. vitamin K and Calcium). If one is missing, or present in an unsuitable quantity, then others may not be absorbed, despite being present in the product.
Research and Development
As mentioned above, another factor to consider is the emphasis a company places on research and development. If a companys formulas rarely change, or only provide sufficient dosages of vitamins and minerals to meet recommended daily allowances (RDAs), then it is likely that the company does not place sufficient emphasis on research and development.
RDAs are somewhat dated and may only meet the nutritional requirements to prevent acute deficiencies and diseases such as scurvy, rickets and similar conditions. Current studies suggest that in order to protect our cells against free-radical damage and to support a healthy immune system, we require advanced levels of vitamins and minerals, significantly higher than RDAs.
Manufacturing Standards and Guarantees
A small number of companies manufacture to pharmaceutical grade standards with high quality ingredients. Using more precise manufacturing processes leads to the production of products with better integrity and a controlled balance of nutrients. You will know that a company adheres to strict manufacturing standards if they offer a potency guarantee, or if they provide a guarantee that the products are free from contaminants. This can only really be achieved if a product is manufactured to pharmaceutical grade standards with the best quality raw ingredients and considerable focus on quality control. Such companies should have independent certification of compliance with pharmaceutical grade standards too.
Many nutritional supplements on the market today are manufactured to food grade standards. It is best to avoid these products because they will be unable to offer potency guarantees, or evidence that the product was produced to the highest of standards. There really is no guarantee that what you are putting into your body is what is listed on the label. They can be huge variations from tablet to tablet, with little consistency assured.
Read more on this topic in the Complete Health Toolkit!
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Further Reading on Supplements and Nutrition
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