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Integrated Nutrition

There has been a controversial and sometimes contentious relationship between foods and supplements as each is portrayed as providing an integrated approach to nutrition. On the one hand, food producers claim to provide all the necessary nutrition in daily servings from the basic food groups. As nutritional science has advanced, it is clear that the modern food supply, as consumed today, does not provide an optimal diet. Dietary recommendations are issued as an attempt to provide an integrated approach to nutrition through foods, but the necessary foods may be too costly or too difficult to prepare in the proper balance for the average consumer.

On the other hand, dietary supplements are sometimes recommended without regard to the nature of the diet with the assumption that they provide benefits with any diet. The data from scientific studies do not support this view either.

Many nutritional imbalances remain silent for many years and only are evident when their role in chronic diseases is uncovered. Optimal intake of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidant phytonutrients can only come from a combination of diet and supplements. While the usual advice is to try to get your nutrients from food first, in practice this simply means that you should try to eat a healthy diet. The ability of most consumers to track their intake of major nutrients, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients from foods is poor. An integrated approach to nutrition will introduce you to the basic contents of a complete diet of both foods and supplements.

The Complete Diet
The complete diet includes adequate high-quality protein, healthy fats and oils and the right carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables, which bring along vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Supplements play a role by reinforcing what is missing from the total diet, by providing increased amounts of nutrients with health benefits that would be impractical to obtain through foods, and by providing a healthy behavior that reinforces a healthy diet and an active life. An integrated approach to nutrition is not about taking food apart to find the active ingredient, but rather it is about bringing together the many different nutrients that interact in our bodies to provide health benefits.

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