You or someone you know may take vitamin and mineral supplements. However, three papers published in the Annals of Medicine1-3 may give you pause; the studies addressed the ineffectiveness of vitamin and mineral supplements in preventing and slowing down the progression of chronic diseases. I found many issues with these studies; overall, they conclude that supplements have no clear role in medicine, and they support the notion that supplements can be harmful.
Actually, no one can unequivocally state that supplements are bad for your health. Let’s look at one of the most common, well-known forms of supplementing in medicine: for years, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has recommended prenatal vitamins for the prevention of neurologic abnormalities in newborns. Another important area in your body that benefits from supplements is your gut because the digestive tract is a repository of microorganisms responsible for enhancing immunity. Certain supplements called probiotics help to restore the balance of microbes in your gut, resulting in reduced inflammation and improved absorbability of nutrients.
Accidents will happen. And the human body is equipped to respond immediately through an immune response called acute inflammation. Let’s say you sprain your wrist: the injured area will hurt, feel warm, and look red and swollen. This normal bodily response is associated with pain, redness, swelling, and heat, which occurs when specialized cells repair the injured area.
Acute inflammation is immediate, localized, and short-lived; however, inflammation may persist for a longer period of time, which is called chronic inflammation. This ongoing inflammatory response occurs in disease states like arthritis. But how does chronic inflammation occur? Stress and environmental toxins cause chronic inflammation. Diet, too, is a player in inflammation because food can be either anti-inflammatory or proinflammatory. Unhealthy dietary choices include refined, processed foods such as white bread, white sugar, and fast food. Soda is also a contributor to chronic inflammation because of its high caloric, high sugar content.
Cancer, like most chronic diseases, has both internal (genetic) and external (environmental factors) components that trigger the disease onset. A great deal of research is dedicated to the eradication of cancer. It is a complex disease that affects different organs in the body by hiding from the immune system. The body is constantly under attack by mutating cells and toxins in our diet and the environment. For the most part, our body does a good job at keeping these offenders at bay through a series of checks and balances designed to maintain homeostasis. However, over time our defenses weaken—and substantially so, through unhealthy lifestyle and diet choices—allowing cancer to progress.