Naturopathic Nutrition and Supplements

It would be lovely to say that supplements are not necessary in this day and age, especially when eating a Naturopathic Diet, and there are always going to be exceptions to the rule, but there are many reasons why the vast majority of us need to BRIDGE THE NUTRITIONAL GAP between what we can get from our food and what macro and micronutrients we need daily. 

In the 21st century, for various reasons (which we shall look at), we believe we do, indeed, need to bridge that gap with some good quality, I repeat, GOOD QUALITY, nutritional supplements.

Let’s start at the beginning…

‘Research in 2004 carried out by Dr Paul Clayton, a leading UK scientist and author of Health Defence, identified the difference between the nutrients that the average person obtains from food and the levels required for optimum health. We call this difference the nutrition gap. The nutrition gap can have a detrimental effect on health and wellness and can increase the risk of many conditions.’ and have a look at some of the reasons why we need to ‘Bridge the Nutritional Gap, even when we have ‘cleaned up’ our diet and eating as close to whole, local, seasonal & organic/wild as we possibly can, it’s not easy to eat this way 100% of the time!

Our nutritional needs change through our life stages

We need extra nutritional support:

a. When going through growth spurts such as teenage years when developing physically, mentally & emotionally. Nutritional support can help the transition by supporting the endocrine system whilst manufacturing those extra hormones!

b. During pregnancy…it takes a LOT of nutrients to grow a baby and for the mother to be in tip-top nutrient condition at the end of her pregnancy too.

c. Whilst breastfeeding…again, it takes a lot of extra nutrition to feed the baby AND for the mother to keep her own nutrition status optimal. 

d. In the build-up to an operation or during the post-operative time…for obvious reasons (I hope!), the body benefits from additional nutritional support at these times.

e. When teeth are an issue (eg. badly fitting dentures), and chewing is impaired, therefore inadequately digesting our food (and as we constantly harp on about at college, incompletely digested food causes havoc in the body…HAVOC!!!) When digestion is constantly challenged, then supplements can aid the situation tremendously.

f. When extremely stressed…this situation causes the body to gobble up many nutrients, especially the family of B vitamins, in particular B5. Nutrients to support the adrenals can really help here.

g. If smoking and/or consuming alcohol regularly…these deplete nutrients within the body.

Food quality

a. Regarding plant foods, the nutritional quality of the plant is only as good as the soil it is grown in…and for animal products, the nutritional quality of the meat is only as good as the foods they are fed and the life they live. 

There has been much research into the changing nutritional content of food in the UK (and worldwide). A long study by McCance and Widdowson found that the mineral levels in fruit, vegetables and meat have all declined significantly over the past 70 years. 

‘Experts believe modern farming methods such as deep ploughing and new plant varieties could be to blame. Overall, magnesium in vegetables has dropped by 24%, while carrots specifically have lost 75% of this essential nutrient – you’d need to eat four carrots today to get the same amount of magnesium found in one carrot in 1940. Spinach has lost 53% of its potassium and 60% of its iron, while broccoli has lost 75% of its calcium. Nutrient levels in fruit have also declined. These days, you would need to eat three apples or oranges to get the same iron content as from one in 1940, while ten fruits analysed for zinc – including cherries, peaches and strawberries – showed an overall loss of 27%.’ (McCance RA, Widdowson EM. The Mineral Depletion Of Foods Available To Us As a Nation (1940–2002) – A Review of the 6th Edition of McCance and Widdowson.

b. Fertilisers…artificial fertilisers have a detrimental effect on the nutritional value of the plants.

c. Pesticides… Because plants must produce antioxidants to combat pests, organic crops contain up to 68% more antioxidants. 

d. The distances much of our food has travelled, therefore not fresh! 

e. Deterioration of nutrients after being held in cold storage for months on end.

f. Picked unripe and ripened in unnatural conditions.

g. Fumigation and Irradiation. Seven categories of food may be irradiated in the UK. These are:

  • Whole fruits and berries
  • Vegetables
  • Cereals
  • Bulbs and tubers
  • Dried aromatic herbs, spices and vegetable seasonings
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Poultry

These categories of food can, of course, also be irradiated and used as ingredients in other food products.

Food is exposed to electron beams, X-rays or gamma rays during irradiation. The effect is similar to other preservation methods, such as pasteurisation or cooking. The appearance and texture of the food changes less during irradiation than in other preservation methods. Irradiated food has been exposed to radiation but does not become radioactive itself. When food is irradiated, it absorbs energy. This absorbed energy kills the bacteria that can cause food poisoning similarly to heat energy kills bacteria when food is cooked. They can also delay fruit ripening and help stop vegetables from sprouting. The issue is that for health, we WANT to eat food that is living and can rot! (Obviously, we ate it before it rotted!!!)

We can deduce from the above that the nutritional value of the food we eat is heavily influenced by all the factors mentioned…and as mentioned earlier, even when eating as close to a Naturopathic diet as possible, it is a challenge for many of us to keep to it 100%!

Our individual roles in influencing the nutrients in food and receiving their nourishment

a. The way food is cooked. We may have the most beautiful, fresh, organic foods, but the nutritional value can be devastated by the way we cook them…for example by using a microwave or deep frying!

b. Poor gut health (a myriad of reasons contributing to this eg. antibiotics).

c. Chewing inadequately.

d. Eating when extremely stressed, which hampers digestion.

We could continue this ‘discussion’ ad infinitum, as we do within our courses, but I’m sure you have got the gist!

Here, at The Nutritional Healing Foundation, we very much emphasise the taking of supplements as being very PURPOSEFUL; in fact we call it ‘Purposeful Supplementation’. We can be like a kid in a sweet shop if we’re not careful! We may have read a few articles, seen some good marketing and enticing adverts, or been in a health food shop, surrounded by jars and packets of all shapes and sizes, thinking, ‘Oh yes! I read about this…that sounds good…I think I’ll have one of these or those’, then before we know it, we may be taking all sorts of pills, not really knowing WHY we’re taking them, and in many cases, they end up at the back of the fridge or the back of the cupboard, and before we know it, they are out of date and we end up throwing them away!

An even worse scenario is when we buy inferior-quality supplements, and they can sometimes literally go in one end and come out the other, maybe unchanged in capsule or tablet form or as expensive urine ha! There are so many artificial supplements out there…for example, chemical isolates of a vitamin or mineral which our bodies do not recognise and do not know what to do with. 

When we realise the importance of Bridging The Nutritional Gap with some purposeful supplementation, generally, we would not want to supplement with anything that the body can make itself. We would rather provide the raw ingredients and encourage the body to make everything it needs. There will always be times when, within a rolling treatment plan, we do prescribe supplements that the body, under normal circumstances, could create itself. The intention for this would only ever be to take them temporarily, whilst working on the underlying conditions in the body which are preventing it from being able to do this at the current time. An example of this is taking melatonin to assist with sleep. Ultimately, we want our endocrine system to be able to secrete this hormone appropriately without help from outside. Of course, many other things are always at play, and we are not looking for a ‘quick fix’. We always say that a treatment plan is always ‘A Marathon and not a Sprint!’

We are very fortunate to have had a relationship with a supplement company called Cytoplan over the years. I believe they were one of the very first companies in the UK to research and develop ‘food state’ supplements…as way back as the 1990’s!

Cytoplan says: We consider that the supplements most appropriate and safe for human ingestion are those in which the nutrients are presented in the same form as those in food – as the nutrients are in our Food State and Wholefood supplements. These are bio-active nutrient complexes containing all the associated food factors in which they occur in nature.

In summary

Unless you find yourself living in a tropical paradise, with no stress, able to eat the local, seasonal, completely wild/organic produce, with enough sunshine to be able to produce your own Vitamin D (and away from the toxins of our ‘modern world’), then, I believe it is fair to say that we DO benefit from bridging the nutritional gap with some excellent quality nutritional supplements!!!

P.s. please contact us on or call us on 01749 671555 to find a nutritional therapist who can help you.

Ali Holden

by Ali Holden

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