Our modern diet is so far removed from the diet our ancestors ate, and from nature that many of the essential chemicals our body needs to maintain itself are missing.
Ancient hunter gathers would have lived on a diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. In comparison our diets are full of over processed carbohydrates, salt, sugar, fats and a huge number of chemicals in the form of colours, additives, preservatives, artificial flavorings – to name just a few.
It has long been recognised and acknowledged by the medical profession that to maintain a healthy lifestyle we need a balanced diet which includes all of the basic elements – minerals, vitamins, amino acids and various enzymes.
Many people are finding that despite eating healthily they cannot source the nutrients needed. Due to the consumer demand for cheap food, we have encouraged and pressurized the food industry, from farmer to supermarket, to mass produce our food. From battery poultry farming to mass growing fruit and vegetables, most of the products we buy to consume are produced on a large scale.
The side effect of this mass production is food with poor or no nutritional value. On the television last night I watched a report on the news which highlighted that most of the western world are consuming thousands of calories a day while suffering from more malnutrition related diseases than ever.
The reason is down to our food production. We have depleted the soil by over farming and the use of modern farming techniques – which no longer include crop rotation but do include a vast number of fertilizers and pesticides. Because we source a vast amount of food from out of the country, which requires travelling great distances – the produce is picked before it is ripe and before it has reached its nutritional potential.
This is also happening in our livestock production. It has also been reported on the news recently that turkeys are slaughtered at the age of 12 weeks. You might ask why - this is because we, as the consumer want a succulent smaller turkey – which means younger underdeveloped poultry. This results in a lack of nutritional value and for the more discerning consumer – a lack of taste and flavour.
In the last few years there has been more awareness of what we are eating, where it has come from and how we are abusing our power as consumers. The changes have been slow to start with but there is now a more noticeable change in the food being stocked in the supermarkets.
Initially the changes related to organic produce and there have been many discussions about the best not always being beautiful !!! But with more awareness of nutrition values there has been a swing away from organic food, to food which is locally produced and sourced. It is now well known that the longer it takes for your food to reach your plate from its source, the less nutritional value it will have. Obviously with some foods we have no choice – this country does not have the suitable climate to grow citrus fruit, bananas and olives etc.
As well as the nutritional benefits of a shorter chain from producer to shop, there are less transportation costs and the carbon footprint is minimised. Also consumer confidence is increased as labels often clearly show the farm where it was produced.
Fish has also been affected by consumer demand with fishing restrictions and quotas common place as we have come very close to wiping out some species with over fishing. The knock on effect for the consumer is that this once cheap and abundant food has become more expensive, consequently less fish is now being eaten.
This consumer awareness has also led to a growth in the nutritional supplement industry, which is now worth billions. This industry had traditionally been led by the vitamin pill, which has received substantial amounts of bad publicity. Because of the content of many of these tablets our body is unable to break them down and absorb them. There have been many studies and it is estimated that only 10-20% of each of the pills we take are absorbed. So 80-90% of what you paid for your tablet supplements is flushed down the toilet.
Most tablets and capsules have been designed and tested to dissolve in the stomach but not all pills and capsules produced in the same way. Some are compressed at extremely high pressures during manufacturing and do not break down properly in the stomach. I found an interesting fact about this – in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA – each month the filters of their sewage system gets clogged with over 150 gallons of undigested supplement pills.
As with all industries, there is ongoing research and development, and technological leaps forward – the nutritional supplement industry is no different. With the realization that tablets aren’t effective and the consumer becoming aware that they are flushing away their money – new delivery systems have been developed.
Now you have multiple options – there are capsules, liquids and gels.
Capsules – these are normally herbal based supplements that can easily be broken down by the stomach acid and absorbed. An alternative method that can be used, is to split open the capsule and add it to another food product such as juice or smoothie.
Liquids – these are a great way to absorb vitamins and minerals, you body can start absorbing them as soon as you swallow as it is already in a form that does not need to be broken down by your digestive system. Liquids are also becoming more popular because a lot of people either don’t want to swallow pills or they are unable too, which makes this a more attractive option to older and younger people.
Gels – there are the latest delivery system to hit the market. Nutritional supplements are most effective when ingested according to the optimal timing guidelines for each individual supplement. Some nutrients are better absorbed when taken with meals. Others are best when consumed at pre–determined intervals prior to food ingestion in order to maximize the effect of their active ingredients, or to avoid conflicting uptake mechanisms with other food particles.
Gel supplements are packaged in convenient gel packs that are highly portable, allowing availability at the appropriate time—no matter when it is. In addition, the gel can often be ingested without water, which means you can take them out and about with you, where ever you go. By encouraging and allowing the correct timing and ingestion of food supplements, gel technology enhances the absorption and utilization of each nutrient.
The introduction of gel technology means all nutrients remain in their natural state, optimizing bioavailability, and increasing the absorption and digestion of essential vitamins and minerals.
In a nutshell, Gel supplements have the potential to change the way we take nutritional supplements. By increasing the ease–of–use and enhancing absorption, gel technology widens the scope of supplementation—allowing a wider audience to benefit from dietary and nutritional improvements.