By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training, Tucson, Arizona
October 25, 2015
From every walk of life, no matter how rich we are or how much stuff we claim to have, there is always going to be a hole in someone’s life. Now I know, a lot of people claim they have all they need and are content with what they have, but this is merely the idea of being fine with your surroundings. It still doesn’t discount the idea of missing something in your life. Now, for some people, this might mean they have to constantly stay in tune with the digital and technological revolutions, merely because they want to look cool and updated to the world. Let’s face it, a lot of people have taken this course in their life to maintain their race to keep up with the Joneses. Some people will wantonly spend thousands of dollars to kill rare animals, for this idiot activity is no longer reserved for the old money elite of the world but random private sector people that wish to be cool amongst their peers. Some people blow up credit cards routinely, destroying their credit to maintain a high fashion sense, making sure people rarely ever see them wear the same thing twice. Heck, if Deion Sanders can lay claim to having 1,000 different suits, then so can I! And then you have the rabid sports fans, who spend thousands of dollars on RVs and season tickets to remain part of a elite club, even though they are merely small time because they wish they could buy new cars and give money to really good recruits, all in the name of making their alma mater (and sometimes they didn’t even go to the school) to be better in sports. We all have these needs and these desires, and often times they manifest into extreme highs and lows that often times dominate our lives and can take us to dark places. One thing I have learned over the last couple years is to somewhat reject a lot of these mentalities, for I try my hardest to not get sucked into the hype and the silliness that promotes the subconsciousness of our visible world. I have still yet to see the darned Star Wars trailer that pretty much crashed the internet and littered my news feed on Facebook. I think my performance in my fantasy football leagues are waning merely because I don’t make it my life to watch sports all day long (but then again, my work schedule kind of prevents me from doing so anyway). And in a lot of ways, my quest for good health has been aided in my general rejection of weird cleanses, bizarre work out equipment and so called challenges that are more about getting you to do one specific thing than it is to build your entire body. For me, just maintaining a good diet and workout regimen that I can stick with for the rest of my life is something that has been extremely difficult for me. I can only imagine what would happen if I tried to complicate things with other weird ideas.
What I’m talking about, of course, is supplementation. Now I am not going to badmouth those that choose to spend their money on those expensive, gigantic bottles of strange powders and liquids you can get from local GNC. I’ve seen people actually make plenty of gains with that stuff, but for me, it is just not worth my time or my money to really engage in something like that. Call it part of my fear complex for things that generally unregulated, untested and under all probability, capable of ruining your body. I think I thoroughly understand just how far someone can take the practice of supplementation, simply because I have a natural disorder to become obsessed with something. If it makes me feel good enough times and maintains a certain high, then I will stick with it. Kind of like my love for fitness, which is taking a large enough spot in my life that it is dictating how I spend my free time, what I spend my money on (especially body maintenance) and even playing a large role in my dating requirements! But likewise, I am a unique person that is not a part of the societal norm, even though my life trajectory is fairly normal in comparison to a great many people. For me, the only pills I take are B-12, mainly because I don’t really eat B-12 fortified foods like enriched tofu, nutritional yeast or Kombucha (which tastes like the south end of a donkey). I could probably take some others that would be considered popular for a person of my dietary requirements, like fish oil and such. But I choose not too. I choose to eat the foods I need to maintain a healthy body. If I need calcium, I eat more peppers. If I feel a headache coming on, I eat some beans and spinach because this has been a sign for me in the past that I don’t have enough iron in my system (or my neck might be out of kink, which is mostly the reason). If I need fiber, I eat some apples or maybe get some broccoli. Everything I need is something I can simply eat. But even so, this philosophy of mine is being deemed strange by some people.
Last week, I took a pretty hearty jab at calcium, for the health benefits of that nutrient are being put into question. The biggest jab was reserved for calcium supplements, which are linked to other health problems such are heart disease and circulation problems. Well, turns out now other supplements are getting a nice suckerpunch, for now research is indicating antioxidant supplements may cause more harm than help. http://www.wsj.com/articles/study-finds-antioxidants-doubled-spread-of-skin-cancer-in-mice-1444317910 Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg, Sweden have found that the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine or NAC, doubled the rate malignant melanoma would spread into the lymph nodes of mice. Repeating the experiment in human cells grown in lab cups, the scientists found that cancerous skin cells inserted with NAC and vitamin E, another strong antioxidant, became better at spreading and taking over other cells. No let’s just put a little caveat to the findings, for the researchers that published this story stated more research is necessary. Either way these initial findings seem to be enough proof to some people that trying to replace something which is naturally abundant in nature is never the way to go. Think of it this way, why do people take supplements? Often times, the answer is as supple as “I don’t want to eat such and such food that has this particular nutrient or mineral.” I’ll admit, I hated eating fruits and veggies initially, so I often times would just put it in a blender and drink the stuff. Now of course, there is a lot of evidence that points to the benefits of juicing and blending, it was really something I did not want to maintain too much. I had to actually eat my food, not just for digestion purposes but also so my body can absorb the fiber and sugars at a much slower rate. Nowadays I can pretty much eat all my vegetables with no issues, but initially I thought the supplement route would make it more convenient.
Dietary supplements in this country are a multi-billion dollar industry, for just about every pharmacy and health store chain boast their own brand in most cases. We have all sorts of promises, that one brand is “cleaner” than the other and another promises more results, but in truth, they are all really the same. I say the same because they all fall under the unregulated umbrella, for even though I take a reputable brand of B-12, do I really know if I am getting enough? Anyway, these antioxidant supplements aren’t the only one that have gotten a little bit of a beatdown, for the entire industry was put on blast earlier this year. http://www.medicaldaily.com/taking-too-many-dietary-supplements-may-increase-risk-some-cancers-330020 Way back in April, the American Association for Cancer Research made some claims that dietary supplements in general can make you sick! That’s right, rather than aid in your general health they may very well inhibit you from getting the nutrients you need to stay alive! Now unlike the antioxidant study from Sweden, this study focused on actual people, where the researchers followed thousands of patients that were taking these supplements versus placebo. During the course of ten years, the researchers never witnessed any remarkable changes in the patients that were on the actual supplements versus those on placebo. The conference in Colorado also pointed out some other issues with various supplements, including some such as Vitamin E, beta-keratin and selenium. Now here is the other part they kind of discounted, despite putting so many people on blast…..supplements still can be used if there may be a deficiency. They were quick to point out thatches supplements cannot be used to replace the actual foods you can find most of them in, doing their best to not stir up a hornet’s nest (which is probably why so few have heard of these findings.
Now I am not brave enough to outright put down vitamins and supplements, but I think this continues to be a trend in our society about the control of what we eat versus what we need. While much of our society seems to be fixed on junk food, hence the fact a third of the population is labeled “obese,” eating actual food is still the troublesome part of the current food culture. It is not enough that we strive to eat whole foods and foods with less preservatives and junk in them, we must continue to eat a wider variety of food that will enrich our lives and make us healthier. Think about it, what are the alternatives? I don’t consider these supplement companies to be the real answer in the realm of long term health, no matter what they may promise. Some of you may remember me writing about “Soylent” a couple times in this blog. For those that have yet to hear, an entrepreneur in California started a little company that sells a powder based mix that ca supposedly replace all of your food. With all of the supposed right dosages that a body may need, a person can live off Soylent indefinitely, provided they have no issue with the taste of unsweetened cake batter (as the description that has been given thus far!). Eventually I want to try this stuff and see what the big fuss is about, but that won’t be for a while…especially since I am not a fan of cake batter.
If you are like me, you love to eat. No matter what day it is or how hard I am going at work, I think of food quite a bit, waiting until that little break bell goes off and I can go and enjoy some lunch. I know a lot of people that are like this, loving the idea of sitting down and enjoying their meal. All I can really say is enjoy that meal, and try to be as unique as you possibly can when it comes to your selection. Trust me, from the sounds of al the research that continues to be done, getting your food naturally is still the best way to go!
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Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.