When you look at research and compare the analysis of antioxidants and other natural compounds found in food, all the true benefits come from the food in its most whole form. Most research on isolated supplements have shown them to be more negative on your health than positive. In the end, an isolated supplement is nothing more than a natural drug. While it is much better and safer than drugs themselves, it is not the way to provide our bodies with the critical nourishment we get from all natural compounds found in our food as a whole. A food can have hundreds or thousands of natural constituents contained within its various parts. They are found in every part of the food (meat, skin, fiber, and seeds) and each of them have a place (whether to support our elimination channels or nourish them) in making this food the healing medicine it is.
The greatest mistake people and science make is taking on the theory that only one or two of these natural compounds found in each food is what makes the “magic” happen. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact what we look at as being the miracle chemical is usually only one small aspect of a much larger family of compounds. For example, the carotenoid family is made up of many powerful antioxidants and phytochemicals. While each constituent has its nourishing qualities, none of them work quite the same way individually. The reason is that they all rely on each other to complete the job. When studying a whole food in which the entire family of these compounds occur, the effects were much more profound than a supplement with one of them in high doses. Have you ever asked yourself why you need to take such high doses of these “supplements”? The reason is very simple. The body is not capable of utilizing these isolated substances to their full potential. More often to even get a small benefit you need to take a high dose and in most cases combine it with other natural substances or use a bioavailable advanced form of it. FYI, when you hear about bioavailable or reduced forms it is nothing more than an attempt to make a substance into a form that the body would naturally break it down into. By the time you have been give the “advanced” or “reduced” form it is not even close to the food it came from. Therefore, these isolates are not capable of nourishing your body.
Want more proof? If you were to test 10 different batches of the same food from different growing seasons in different regions and have them tested for nutrient levels you will be surprised at what you find. I assure you that each one of those batches will come back with varying nutrient levels of that food. If the number of milligrams were so important, then why is it, that all of those different batches give the same nourishing results? The reason is that the total number is not important. It is simply the fact that everything that is naturally occurring in the whole food is present which work together to deliver the goods. Remember, not one single nutrient or phytochemical works alone. They all work as a complex team supporting one another.
Let me simplify this for you even more. Take a bowl of Elderberries and put it next to a bowl of pills which represent the various natural compounds found in that food. Which do you think is better for you? Every portion of that food down to its simple fiber has a multitude of natural compounds that you can’t recreate in a lab. Even if you attempt to make an extract of that food you will still be missing out on compounds that are inherent to that food that may not respond to the extraction or concentration process. Elderberry extract is a very popular compounded extract during the winter season do to its immune nourishing properties. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, get the fresh frozen wild berries and make a jam or preserve leaving the berries whole. Now you are assured to get the complete nourishing qualities from this food. You simply can’t recreate what nature has already done so perfectly. Have you ever heard someone say “take 2000 mgs of oranges”? In order to achieve optimal health we don’t need thousands of milligrams of these substances. If we did, they would naturally occur that way in food. What we do need is a large variety of compounds and constituents working together synergistically in its natural form. It is not so much about the dose, rather the presence of those complimentary compounds. The only way to get these powerful compounds is from whole foods and herbs. Do yourself a favor and put down that handful of isolated pills and pick up your fork and knife as this is where true health and vitality begins.
About Michael Stuchiner
Michael Stuchiner is an experienced Master Herbalist, the Head of Education for Z Natural Foods, a teacher and an accomplished author. With a 16 plus year specialization in medicinal herbs, Mike also has a vast knowledge in tonic and adaptogenic herbalism. Mike has enjoyed a 26-year career as an elite-level competitive powerlifter where he learned to heal his ‘mind and body’ as an avid user of herbal formulas.
As an “in-the-trenches” herbalist, Mike has done more than 85 speaking engagements, consulted with clients ranging from young to elderly, worked with athletes in virtually all sports and with clients who have “dis-ease” states of a wide variety. Mike also mentors student Master Herbalists and will continue to teach the next generation to grow a deeper wisdom of the human body through appropriate herbal remedies.