The final word
HYDERABAD: The debate over whole foods vs supplements has been growing over the past week, thanks to Twitter! We attempt to solve it once and for all, as we speak to doctors and nutritionists who dissect the ongoing discussion for an accurate conclusion. While science and logic point to the argument of whole foods being the obvious way to go, pesticides, hybrid varieties, preferring junk food, etc., has it resulted in whole foods not being enough to feed our bodies well.
We speak to someone who you’d expect would take the side of supplements, but here’s what Lavanya Sunkari, founder of Hyderabad-based Laurik, Kondapur, says: “Despite being a nutraceutical brand, we are all for what doctors say — whole foods are the best. However, when the body finds it difficult to take in what it wants from the food we consume — for various reasons — supplements are the way to go.
That said, absorption from synthetic supplements are as low as 2 per cent, which is why it’s wiser to take the nutraceutical route. It has a high probability of 60 per cent being absorbed.”
The debate grows to be greater importance when it comes to children. Dr Latha Sashi, consultant nutritionist at Fernandez Hospital, Hyderguda, says that children who consume a well-balanced diet usually do not require a vitamin, mineral or health supplement. “It’s important for children to eat a wide variety of foods to ensure they’re getting all the energy and nutrients they need for proper healthy growth and development. A variety of food groups in our diet make our meals interesting and flavourful.
It’s also the key to a healthy and balanced diet because each food group has a unique mix of nutrients—both micro and macronutrients.” She says that supplements may be advised under medical guidance in certain conditions like malabsorption syndrome, chronic medical conditions (abnormal weight loss or severe diarrhea or very low weight for age, etc.) or when on medications that interfere with nutrient absorption.
However, there is no conclusive evidence regarding the use of supplements over the natural food sources if the child is on a well balanced diet, she shares, adding, “As most dietary supplements used for children are not under the recommendation of a healthcare provider, it can lead to overdose and toxicity. Not to forget that many supplements are mislabeled.” With both sides of the argument supporting whole foods and frowning at supplements, we wonder why the internet still has trouble finding answers!