Supplements or balanced diet? The choice is yours

There is a real boom in supplement consumption in Italy. But who really needs them? Is it not enough, for people not having particular health problems, to follow a balanced diet which also includes the right amounts of meat?

Italians seem particularly hungry for probiotics, multivitamins, and multi-minerals, so much that they are at the top on the European market (with 23%) in the consumption of food supplements, for a total expenditure of over 3.2 billion euros. Recent Censis research confirms that around 32 million Italians take them, with the aim of leading a healthy life.

But who really needs to take these products to supplement their diet? For example, people in particular physiological conditions, such as weight loss, pregnancy, breastfeeding, sports recovery. Then people with a poor-quality diet and who give up some components of a balanced diet by choice.

Italians are particularly fond of #probiotics, #multivitamins, and #multiminerals: first consumers on the European market, with 23% in the consumption of #food #supplements. Overall expenditure: over 3.2 billion euros. Click To Tweet

A typical case is that of excluding meat, such as vegetarian and vegan diets, or other even more extreme diets. How harmful is depriving oneself of meat during the extreme ages, such as childhood and old age, is well-known, and unfortunately there is no lack of evidence coming from the news. Consequences for healthy adults are less serious, however, they must use supplements, such as B vitamins, to make up for possible deficiencies.

But meat is much more than a supply of vitamin B. Its contribution to assimilable iron (the vegetable one is very poor) and zinc is well known and it must be remembered. Meat, in the correct quantities, can offer nutraceutical substances that are not always found on the shelves of pharmacies and supermarkets.

For example, the “intelligence vitamin”, nicotinamide or vitamin B3, which has important functions in the growth of neurons, as “Sustainable Meat” has investigated for a long time.

#Meat is much more than a #vitaminaB supplier. Its contribution in assimilable #iron and #zinc is well known. Meat in the correct quantities can also offer us many #nutraceutical substances. Click To Tweet

A recent study by the University of Eastern Finland highlights the correlation between choline (a constituent of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine) and cognitive decline in old age. It’s important to keep in mind that choline is present in meat and eggs, as always Sustainable Meat recalls in a recent article. Choline, some argue, is also found in some vegetables, such as soy or lettuce. Once again, however, the quantities and the effective assimilation of active ingredients make the difference.

It’s maybe thanks to these substances and to their role in the complicated mechanism of neurotransmitters if meat-eaters are less depressed than people following a vegetarian diet. This is confirmed by a recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition that links the higher incidence of depressive states to the higher intake of phytoestrogens following a vegetarian diet.

Excluding #meat from your #diet can lead to a higher risk of #stroke in 20% of cases. Click To Tweet

Another study published by the Neuron journal highlighted the relationship between serotonin and the appearance of certain motor pathologies such as Parkinson’s or other obsessive-compulsive disorders. Serotonin is synthesized by the body from an essential amino acid, tryptophan, which the human body is unable to synthesize and which is well represented in meat.

Amino acids and other bioactive peptides can be found in meat, as a derivative of protein hydrolysis. Their presence is favoured by the right maturation of meats, as well as by the seasoning of cured meats. It is proven that these peptides, readily absorbed without “fatiguing” the digestive processes, have numerous positive effects, manifesting antioxidant and antihypertensive activities in addition to the antithrombotic effects.

An excess of #minerals or #vitamins does not increase the beneficial effect of #supplements. On the contrary, it can have negative #consequences. Click To Tweet

This explains the results of the research conducted in Britain at the University of Oxford by Tammy Tong and colleagues, who compared the diets followed by almost 50 thousand people, divided between omnivores and vegetarians. As a result, excluding meat from your diet can lead to higher stroke risk in 20% of cases. The research also showed a higher number of heart diseases among omnivores, the causes of which however were not entirely attributable to the dietary pattern, but to the simultaneous presence of high blood pressure, excess cholesterol, and diabetes. The elimination of these predisposing factors limited the appearance of heart disease, while the return to physiological values ​​in the group of vegetarians did not entail any significant difference in the onset of stroke.

About the “passion” of the Italians for food supplements, we recommend their use by following the indications of the doctor or pharmacist and in the face of real deficiencies. Do-it-yourself, even in this context, is not recommended. An excess of minerals or vitamins does not increase their beneficial effect, but on the contrary, it can also have important negative consequences. A balanced diet, which includes meat together with all foods admirably listed in the Mediterranean diet, protects against deficiencies and is the first guarantee of health.

Professional journalist, graduated in veterinary medicine, director of journals dedicated to animal husbandry and editor in chief of journals in the agricultural sector, he has held coordination positions in publishing companies. Author of books on animal breeding, he is involved in the divulgation of technical, political and economic subjects of interest to the livestock sector.