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Sustainable Supplementation

Something that I try to be mindful of as a Naturopath, is the impact of supplementation on our environment. For a start, the aim of a Naturopath should be to use the minimal amount of intervention needed to effect a positive change in the body, but in recent years supplement sales have doubled and do not look like slowing down any time soon. Many people do not stop to think about where the ingredients for these products come from and how they are produced.

Fish oil is one of the most commonly used supplements, because of it’s proven anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammatory conditions are incredibly prevalent in developed countries, hence the vast amounts of fish oil being consumed. While it is true that fish oil has therapeutic benefits for conditions such as osteoarthritis, heart disease, eczema, depression and ADHD to name a few, the benefits are not so much due to the amount of the oil being consumed, as the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 in the overall diet.

While all types of Omegas – 3, 6 and 9 have health benefits and must be obtained from the diet, when the balance is significantly thrown out, this results in inflammatory processes within the body, and many of the chronic health conditions we are so familiar with in Australia. Our diet should consist of a fairly even balance of these fats, but over time we have ended up consuming around 20 times more omega 6 fatty acids then Omega 3. The main reason for this shift is processed food.  Processed foods contain refined and highly processed plant oils, which are not only devoid of nutrition, but are very high in Omega 6. Red meat, poultry and eggs also contain a relatively high amount of omega 6.

Some fish oil producers do make a concerted effort to produce their products in an environmentally sustainable way, but with the oceans being so overfished already, anything we can do to avoid further impact, should surely be considered. Even if fish oil supplements are required for inflammation, we can reduce the amount required by addressing our diet (which caused the inflammation in the first place!)

As residents of earth, we not only have a responsibility to ourselves, but to our environment. Whole supplementation is sometimes necessary to restore good health, so too is addressing the cause for ill health in the first place. Thinking this way can only have a positive outcome, on our long term health, our environment and our bank balance!

Commercial cooking oils such as soy, corn, canola, safflower.Extra virgin olive, hemp, walnut, avocado and pumpkin seed oils.
Trans fats in commercially prepared, fried and baked foods.Unrefined coconut oil.

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