Thursday, October 27, 2011

Could Your Meds Be Doing More Harm Than Good?

This article will also be available in Ara Wiseman's November 2011 issue of her Soul Nutrition newsletter. Sign up here for further updates, to book a consultation, or to request a corporate seminar from Nutrition and Healing, where I work as a holistic nutritionist and wellness program implementer.

Could Your Meds Be Doing More Harm Than Good?
Sarah Reid, RHNC

It’s enough of a struggle for most modern people to get all the vital nutrients they require to stay healthy.  In 2005, a study reported that approximately 73% of us are deficient in zinc, 85% are low in Essential Fatty Acids, and 56% lacked Vitamin A. Widespread B-vitamin, healthy gut flora and phytonutrient deficiencies were also found. Each of these nutrients plays a part in maintaining the delicate immune balance, and their absence leads to the over-susceptibility to common “winter” ailments such as the common cold or flu, as well as chronic illnesses and even mental disorders.

The problem compounds when medications come into play. Many of the commonly prescribed drugs, even if they aren’t for an acute infection, deplete the body’s stores of nutrients or prevent them from being absorbed entirely. In short, the medications that are supposed to help you heal are actually prolonging your discomfort and raising the chance of having worse problems down the line.

Here are some of the common medications and the nutrients they counteract (either by preventing absorption or depleting the body’s stores):

Birth Control Pill: Vitamins B1, B3, B6, B12 and C, folic acid, Magnesium, Zinc, Copper, Iron

Proton pump inhibitors, H2 blockers or antacids: Calcium, copper, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamins D and C, beta-carotene

Metformin/Glucophage: Vitamin B12, folic acid, coenzyme Q10

Antibiotics: Healthy gut bacteria, all B vitamins, vitamin K, potassium, biotin

Statin drugs: Coenzyme Q10, vitamin A

Blood thinners: Vitamins E, K, coenzyme Q10, EFAs

Diuretics: Potassium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, zinc, magnesium, calcium, folic acid, vitamins B1, B6, and C

If you’ve been prescribed these medications and are using them for the long term, make sure you regularly monitor your nutrient levels with blood work. Never stop a prescribed medication without talking to your physician first!

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I started my "working life" as a holistic and allopathic nutritional consultant with a love of cooking. Teaching the value of wholesome meal choices to families became close to my heart after I battled a long history of struggles with weight and health, and the passion for teaching led me into where I am now. My blog, which focuses on "bringing good taste to healthier food" through creative use of whole grains, fresh produce and acknowledging the importance of the occasional treat, also features a wealth of "specialty diet" friendly recipes for gluten-, egg-, dairy- and sugar- tree nut-free items that everyone can enjoy without alienating those who need them.

Overall, I want to bring back the desire for good quality, homemade, (mostly) healthy food into the hearts and kitchens of families so that the next generation will be less box-reliant than mine. I firmly believe that any “homemade” food, even when labelled as "naughty", is a more wholesome treat than pre-packaged, cookie-cutter junk. With the knowledge of good food (and how to cook good food) as a base, a healthy lifestyle can follow, and then anything is possible!

Today, my love for teaching is branching out even further - I'm in Montessori training to solidify my love for the system and working with children and families!