Supplements vs. Food Diversity

by | Jul 29, 2015 | Functional Medicine, Nutrition & Diet | 0 comments

My attitude toward nutrition supplements waxes and wanes. Sometimes I take them regularly, and recommend them to my patients. At other times my enthusiasm fades, and I forget to take my supplements and wonder how much benefit they are for my patients.

One question that weighs on my thinking about supplements is: How nutritious is the food that we eat, anyway?

Here are some of the reasons why our food supply may no longer be as health-promoting as it could be:

  • Our soil has been depleted.  Many trace minerals are no longer present in the same concentrations as found in the days of grandma and grandpa.
  • Food spends a long time in transit and storage, and nutrients are lost.
  • Plant breeding (including, yes, genetic modification) has focused on yield, pest resistance, early maturity, and other factors to the detriment of nutrient content.

Although you can raise these questions, you can’t, unfortunately, do much about them on an individual level – they’re political problems.

What Can You Do as an Individual?

Eat a diversity of foods. Each has a unique array of micronutrients, many of which have yet to be studied scientifically. The more diverse your diet, the less likely you’ll be missing out on essential nutrients.

Here’s a cheat sheet to get your imagination rolling. Include two or three choices from each category as part of your weekly diet.


Herbs……tarragon, mint, thyme, oregano, dill…

Organ meats……liver, kidneys, sweetbreads (thymus & pancreas)… – important to consume healthy, grass-fed animals

Spices……coriander, turmeric (incorporates the known anti-inflammatory curcumin), chile, cocoa (chocolate is good for you)…

Mushrooms……portobello, crimini, shiitake…

Sea vegetables……nori, wakame, hijiki, kombu… – good sources of iodine and other minerals

Fermented foods……pickles, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, cider vinegar, yogurt

Shellfish……mussels, clams, oysters…


Deepen Your Body of Knowledge

Nutritional value of mushrooms

Nutrition supplements vs. pharmaceuticals for low back pain

Dr. Lavine’s Food Diversity Scorecard



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