Condiments are something used extensively in Western diets. They have become hugely popular. They can accompany breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Be it with eggs, tacos, chips, pizza, burgers, wraps, salads, pastas you name it and there is a go to condiment. Condiments are often the X-factor for many fast-food restaurant signature meals.

Many people do not realize how much added energy (calories), fat and sugar are contained within these products. Remember condiments are consumed in addition to the calories, sugar, and fat in the meal. Often people do not think of them as food.





Hellman’s Original

2 Tbs (26g)


Tangy Mayo Woolworths

2 Tbs (30g)


Tangy Mayo Lite Woolworths

2 Tbs (30g)


Woolworths Vegan Mayo

2 Tbs (30g)


Woolworths Burger Mayo

2 Tbs (30g)


Crosse & Blackwell Tangy Mayonnaise

2 Tbs (30g)



Crosse & Blackwell Trim Mayonnaise

2 Tbs (30g)


It’s quite frightening how the addition of mayo to your meal can add up to 200 calories, without you even realizing! Aim to use reduced oil “lite” or “trim” mayonnaises as a substitute. Mayonnaise’s primary ingredient is oil, which is fat.

Remember that:

  • 1g Fat = 9 calories
  • 1g Carbs = 4 calories
  • 1g Protein = 4 calories


Fat is energy dense. If you won’t compromise on the Hellman’s, watch your portions.

Here are some examples of some popular condiments. Have a look at their fat and sugar contents.

We bet you didn’t think you were adding 3 teaspoons of sugar to your meal when you topped it with some T-sauce. Or 3 and a half teaspoons of sugar if you prefer sweet chilli… Did you release how many added calories you were adding to your toast or burger roll, just by having butter?







2 Tbls (20g)




Tomato Sauce (All Gold)

2 Tbls (30g)

13g (3.2 tsps)



All Gold Tomato Sauce Light

2 Tbs (30g)




Mrs. Balls Original Chutney

2 Tbls (30g)

10.4 (2.6 tsp)



Wellingtons Sweet Chilli Sauce

2 Tbls (30g)

14g (3.5 tsp)



Creamy Honey Mustard Salad Dressing

60g serving

8g (2 tsp)



Cheese Sauce

62g serving




Bolognaise Pasta Sauce

130g Serving




Butter Chicken cook in sauce

125g serving




Peanut Butter

20g (2 Tbls)

2.5g (1/2 tsp)





Do you know if you are consuming enough fibre?

Do you know how important fibre is for health? Fibre does a lot more than just ensuring you have regular bowel habits :).


Fibre is contained within carbohydrate food products. This includes foods derived from wheat, maize, grains (barley, quinoa, rice), nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, pulses, fruits, and vegetables. Fibre is listed on the nutritional information table on the packaging (usually the back) of food products in South Africa. It is listed at the bottom of the table. Any product that has more than 6g of fibre per 100g of food product is considered “HIGH” in fibre and is the favourable choice.

Did you know that the recommended quantity of fibre for the average adult is 25 for women and 38g for men PER DAY? 

It is recommended to achieve this intake from a variety of fibre sources.

What is fibre?

Fibre is fundamental for healthy GIT function. It is the edible but indigestible starch component of the carbohydrate food. Fibre is in the form of soluble fibre (fruits, vegetables, legumes, barley, and oats) or insoluble fibre (whole grain and whole wheat carbohydrate products, maize/corn derivatives and lots of other vegetables). Both the fibres have different but important functions.

Fibre travels through the GIT (undigested) until it reaches the site where the magic happens: the large intestine. Here, the fibre is fermented by the local gut bacteria to produce short chain fatty acids. These short chain fatty acids (namely acetate, butyrate, and propionate) have many important benefits for health including anti-inflammatory properties, increasing the good bacteria in the GIT, promoting detoxification, stabilize GIT microbiota colonies and increasing intestinal bacterial concentrations. Fibre absorbs water into the GIT tract which increases satiety and works to form a healthy stool. It can also lower blood cholesterol levels. Fibre increases peristalsis, which maintains healthy bowel habits, promotes efficient waste removal, and prevents constipation.

Fibre increases satiety; it is very filling! It can help with weight loss, as well as help to maintain stable blood glucose (sugar) levels and prevent the development of diabetes. If you eat meals higher in fibre, you might not find yourself feeling hungry 2-3 hours later. This is because fibre absorbs water and delays gastric emptying (it takes longer to digest) and this is also why it has benefits for blood sugar regulation. Your blood sugar increases will be gradual if you are consuming high fibre whole grain carbohydrates.

In summary, fibre is a very important (yet under emphasized) element of the diet. Its benefits include (to name a few): regular bowel habits, satiety, diabetes prevention, lowered blood cholesterol, IBS management and prevention, constipation prevention, colon cancer prevention, AND anti-inflammatory properties.

We challenge you to check and compare the fibre content of your food products with similar products. Compare the fibre contents of breads, crackers, cereals, grains, potatoes, rice, pasta, and starches. Have high fibre products accessible in your homes. Include these products into your daily and weekly meals. And most importantly, always choose the higher fibre option!



We love it, and we know you do too.


How do you enjoy this creamy, versatile fruit? On toast? On pizza or as guac? In salads, in smoothies, or in salad dressings? Even just as a fabulous side to any dish. We’ve even heard of avocado chocolate mousse! It can turn an average salad into a scrumptious meal.

Good fats and bad fats. I thought Avo was a healthy fat?

Avocadoes are LOADED (exactly 67% as you will see on our fat composition analysis) with monounsaturated fat. These fats work to lower blood cholesterol levels, blood triglyceride (fat) levels, and they have fantastic antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties! One should aim to replace saturated fat in the diet with monounsaturated fat sources for maximum protection against cardiovascular diseases.

Avocadoes are 85% fat. Yes of course these are the healthy fats.


  • 1g fat = 9 calories (38 kilojoules)
  • 1g protein = 4 calories (17 kilojoules)
  • 1g carbs = 4 calories (17 kilojoules)

Moral of the story? Fat is energy dense! Even if it is the healthy kind. This means there is a lot of calories in a small volume of Avo.

1 average SMALL avocado is 245 calories.

That the equivalent of 2.6 slices of bread. That’s 2 and a half castle light beers or 3.8 eggs.

 Avo often accompanies meals that are already high in calories too. For example, an average margarita pizza is already around 960 calories. Top it with a small Avo, and we have added another 250 calories to the equation. Or we are adding guacamole to mince taco’s, or as a side to our bacon and egg.

Avo is extremely healthy to include in the diet, because of its monounsaturated fat content, and other health benefits.

Portion control is key; and a recommended fat portion of avocado is 1/8.

Enjoy this delicacy in moderation.



Are you guilty of sleeping less than 7-8 hours at night? Are you watching screens at night? Are you not prioritizing your sleep?


You are not alone. Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide suffer from chronic sleep deprivation. This can be as a result of many reasons such as stress, parenting, stressful living circumstances, screen time and social media, and an increased occupational workload burden. Sleep is an essential process which enables our body systems to rest and rejuvenate in order to operate and function effectively.

It has been documented that as sleep shortens, obesity prevalence rises. Those who sleep more are generally leaner.

The general guideline for sleep duration is 7-9 hours every night. However, each one of us is uniquely different. Some people may require slightly less/more sleep. Remember there are confounders here too. Sleep requirements increase in periods of growth, menstruation and intense physical activity.

There are two hormones which are responsible for regulating hunger and satiety. The hunger hormone is Ghrelin, and the satiety or “fullness” hormone is called Leptin.

Chronic short sleep or sleep deprivation disrupts the regulation of these hormones. Very simply when you sleep less you produce more of the hunger hormone. This impairs your ability to self-regulate your food intake. It can result in a marked increased intake of total calories (energy intake). It also results in a change in the composition, and distribution of food intake. The trend towards unhealthy food choices, and more regular food intake (SNACKING) because less leptin and more ghrelin are circulating in the blood (consistent feeling of hunger).

You may be eating more with even realizing. For example, having one rusk instead of two, getting the large latte instead of your small one or having seconds at lunch or supper. Doing things like this every day, every week and month, can lead to steady weight gain.

Have you ever experienced that your stomach is a “bottomless pit”, and you cannot satisfy your hunger? Maybe when you are hungover after too many drinks on a Saturday night? This is most likely due to the fact that you only slept for 5 hours, or that the alcohol disrupted your sleep quality, and now you have elevated levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin in your body.

When you are overtired, or sleep deprived you may find yourself craving calorie dense, high fat, high refined carbohydrate and high sodium fast foods as opposed to nutritious energy balanced meals. You will most probably order a toasted bacon and cheese sandwich and chips for lunch at work as opposed to grilled chicken strips and vegetables. You will be more likely to swing past the vending machine to collect a Coca-Cola and packet of Doritos. Even worse you may find yourself swinging past McDonalds or KFC drive through after work as ghrelin drives your appetite through the roof.

Stress is a common cause for poor sleep habits and sleep deprivation. In periods of stress, the hormone cortisol is produced. Chronic stress (and cortisol) increases circulating levels of blood sugar as the body is continuously in “fight or flight mode”. This can also result in increased appetite.

There is another hormone at play in this equation and it is called Melatonin. This hormone is responsible for regulating the bodies sleep wake cycle and circadian rhythms. It is released by the pineal gland in response to darkness (at night). Its secretion is suppressed by light. Exposing yourself to screens and technology at night opposes the production of this hormone. You may fall asleep when you close your laptop at 11pm, however melatonin will only reach its peak concentration some hours later. Therefore, you impair the quality of your sleep much later into the night.

Turn the main lights off sooner, decrease your screen time and start prioritizing your sleep! This is only the start of a multitude of health benefits from adequate sleep. You can thank us later.

Omega 3: Essential Fatty Acids

Omega 3: Essential Fatty Acids

Ever heard of Omega 3 or Omega 6? Or seen those yellow gooey soft gel fish oil supplements?


Omega 3 is a polyunsaturated essential fatty acid. This means it cannot be produced by the body, and so it must therefore be consumed in the diet. These fatty acids are involved in many important metabolic processes, and studies prove that essential fatty acid deficiency can cause increased inflammation and has been linked with vulnerable brain chemistry.

Benefits of long term adequate fatty acid intake may include:

  • Improved mental health and depressive symptom alleviation
  • Reduction of the inflammation causing rheumatoid arthritis
  • Decreased blood clotting and atherosclerosis formation
  • Decreased serum (blood) triglyceride levels
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Anti-inflammatory properties

Intake of these fatty acids is important for optimum functioning.

Dietary sources include: fatty fish such as herring, mackerel, sardines, pilchards, salmon, tuna, trout and shellfish.

Vegetarian or Vegan dietary sources include: flaxseed, linseed, soya, canola oil, chia seeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and green leafy vegetables.

Some eggs are fortified with omega 3. Have a look at the packaging.

Omega 3 in food is in the form of DHA and EPA (in animal sources) and ALA (plant sources). Absorption of essential fatty acids is more efficient via animal sources however, as the form of omega 3 (as EPA and DHA) is more bioavailable (digestible and absorbable) than plant sources of omega 3 (ALA). However, humans can convert ALA from plant sources like canola or flaxseeds into DHA and EPA, with varying degrees of efficiency.

The recommendation is to aim to eat 2-3 portions of fatty fish weekly. Here are some ideas to help you increase your intake:

  • Try sardines or pilchards with fresh tomato, cottage cheese, salt, and pepper on low GI toast.
  • Choose an “omega 3 fish” option every Tuesday night for dinner (or Wednesday, whichever day you prefer).
  • Cook salmon, trout, tuna, mackerel, herring, shellfish or sardines and get creative with your recipe’s!
  • Use canola oil or soybean in cooking and salad dressings.
  • Incorporate sardines or tinned salmon into fishcake recipes.
  • Choose omega 3 fortified products such as eggs, milk, yoghurt, bread, and pasta. – Use ground flaxseeds as a partial substitute for flour (1/4 cup flaxseeds for ¼ cup of flour) in breads, sources, muffins, cakes, and meat bastings.

Why am I still Gaining Weight?

Why am I still Gaining Weight?

There are more calories in 5 CHUCKLES than 1 whole tin of Tuna. Do you believe us? 


Well, here is the proof:

  • 5 chuckles (+-25g) = 124kcal
  • 1 tin of tuna in brine (120g drained) = 103kcal

Other Comparisons:

  • 1 Woolworths Muesli Rusk 34g (170kcal) = 1 large chicken schnitzel (172 kcal)
  • 1 Tbs smooth peanut butter (120kcal) = 1.5 slices of brown sandwich bread (128kcal)
  • 30g Woolworth’s roasted almonds; small packet (159 kcal) = almost 2 slices of bread
  • 30g (1/4 cup) of Woolworths Almond and Cocoa nib Carb Clever Granola (145) calories = 1 and a half tins of tuna (151.5kcal)
  • Woolworths’s chicken and bacon pasta salad 360g (740kcal) = 8 slices of bread (744kcal)
  • Woolworths roast chicken, bacon and pasta wrap (560 calories) = 6 slices of bread!
  • 1/3 of a packet of chuckles (411 kcal) = 4.5 slices of bread
  • 4 BBQ chicken pancakes (289kcal) = 3 slices of bread
  • 20cm of Woolworths Droe Wors (113kcal) = 1.2 slices of bread
  • 60g Boerie (142kcal) = 1.5 slices of bread

Calorie Density

Today we are talking about the concept of calorie density of food and food products. The above-mentioned foods are not “bad”, and we are by no means saying they should not be consumed, we are just educating you about the principle of energy density.

Calories are the unit used to measure the amount of energy provided by foods. You may have also heard of the unit “kilojoule” as an energy measure. Both the calorie and the kilojoule measure energy, and in this case, the energy in food. It’s quite the same as using a meter or a yard to measure distance.

Density is a measure of the amount of substance or matter in a pre-defined volume. 15ml (1 tablespoon) of olive oil has 120 calories versus 25ml of low-fat milk which has 7.5 calories. Both the oil and the milk have the same volume; however, the oil has a lot more calories.

Are you eating regular or small portions of food and not understanding why the scale keeps creeping up? How is it possible to gain weight when you aren’t overeating?

Many people eat energy dense foods, and this means that these foods are concentrated sources of calories. It becomes easy to eat a lot of calories in a small volume of food. Consequently, it is easy to eat too many calories in your day and week, because you do not feel satisfied when eating a small volume.

The macronutrients in the diet are carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Each macronutrient has a different energy density.

  • 1g carbs = 4 kcal (17kJ)
  • 1g protein = 4 kcal (17kJ)
  • 1g fat = 9 kcal (38kJ)

1g of fat has more than double the number of calories as 1g of proteins or carbs. This means you can eat double the amount (or volume) of carbohydrate or protein predominant foods, for the same number of calories.

Cooking with lots of oil, adding butter and margarine to your bread or cooking, salad dressings, mayonnaise, cheese sauces, marinades, avocado, cheese, feta, croutons and bacon are examples of some energy dense food “extras” which can quickly increase your calorie intake.

If you look on a food label you will find the nutritional information table. This tells you the composition of the food you are eating in terms of energy (calories), carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fibre and sodium. Foods with a higher fat content composition are more energy dense than lower fat options, and it is therefore easy to eat a lot of calories very quickly.

Have a look at the energy density of the foods you are consuming and compare this with other food products.

Are 5 chuckles satisfying enough for 124 calories? Or 1 and a half slices of bread? We’ll let you decide!



Do you taste your food before lathering it in salt?


Salt in food or table salt is in the chemical form of sodium chloride.

High salt and sodium intake can increase blood pressure.

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, increasing the risk for heart disease and also diabetes. Risk factors contributing to high blood pressure are increased BMI (overweight and obesity), tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.

This co-morbidity has been flagged in the COVID-19 pandemic, as a serious risk factor for fatalities. Statistically, South Africa has a very high prevalence of Hypertension (high blood pressure). In an effort to try and control the epidemic, we are one of the only countries in THE WORLD who has had implement sodium legislation. This legislation places restrictions on the amount of salt the food industry can add to our processed food products.

Your body has an average of 5 litres of blood which travels within your vascular system (arteries, veins and capillaries). Diets that are too high in sodium, saturated fats, refined carbohydrates and alcohol can contribute to the narrowing of arteries (what we call arteriosclerosis). High blood pressure results from the narrowing of these vessels. Your heart now has to pump much harder (increase the pressure) to push the blood through all your vessels, because they are now much narrower than normal. The result = increased blood pressure.

Sodium is used extensively in the food processing industry for food preservation and flavouring. Processed foods are generally very high in salt. Salt is used as a preservative, and therefore it is almost always added to processed foods or anything that’s pre-prepared. The sodium content is listed in the nutritional information tables on food products. Have a look at the sodium content of your next ready-made meals, canned foods, pre-made sauces, soups, dips, or any other convenience meal or product.

There are very few supermarket products that are sodium free. It’s added to everything! And consequently, very quickly you are consuming much more salt daily than you would like to be. We challenge you to become more aware of the quantity of sodium you are consuming.

Look at food labels (quantities per 100g):

  • Low sodium foods: <120mg
  • Medium sodium foods: 120-600mg
  • High sodium foods: >600mg of sodium

Food Product

Sodium content/100g or /100ml

Soya sauce




All Gold Tomato sauce


2-minute noodles


Lays chips


Beef Biltong Snap sticks


Smooth Peanut Butter


Moroccan chicken fillets


Cheddar Cheese


Roast Chicken and Bacon Wrap


Roast chicken pie




Parmesan Cheese




Butter Chicken Soup


Woolworths club pizza


The recommendation is to consume 2400mg or less of sodium per day for optimum hypertension prevention. This is a mere 5g (1 teaspoon of salt) per day!!

Ways to decrease salt intake:

  • Flavour food with herbs, spices, garlic, lemon, chilli, vinegar and ginger instead of salt and stock powders.
  • Taste your food before adding table salt
  • Use half the amount of stock required by recipe’s
  • Choose low sodium soya sauce
  • Reduce the amount of convenience food and fast foods you are consuming. These are generally excessively high in salt 
  • Choose unmarinated meats
  • Choose unprocessed foods as far as possible
  • Avoid using artificial flavourings like Aromat
  • Look out for high salt ingredients in ingredient lists
  • Choose snacks lower in sodium
  • Choose low sodium foods


WEEKENDS and Weight Loss

WEEKENDS and Weight Loss

Why your weekends may be the reason you are not seeing weight loss results


There is nothing more deflating than trying so hard, being consistent, and still not achieving weight loss goals you are working towards. Have a look at the explanation below to understand how quickly the calories of weekend indulges can add up, and reverse all your efforts from the week.

We are by no means discouraging these specific foods nor weekend festivities at all! Food is there to be enjoyed, and special time with family and friends is far more important than calorie counting. This is just an illustration:

This person requires 2000 calories per day to sustain their body function to maintain their weight. He/she wants to lose weight and is therefore eating in a calorie deficit of 500 calories from Sunday to Thursday during the week and enjoys some treats on Friday and Saturday.

Have a look below: (kcal = calorie)
























450 kcal

Snack: Kauai peanut butter bomb (500ml)

450 kcal


600 kcal


1 Col Cacchio’s Foresta Pizza

1230 kcal

3 glasses of red wine (250ml total)

360 kcal

2 lindt balls



3250 kcal (+1250 kcal excess)


Saturday Social Event

Calories (kcal)


350 kcal


140 kcal


400 kcal

1 large handful of Dorito’s

150 kcal

2 pieces of Droe wors (30cm)

289 kcal

2 castle lights

205 kcal

2 gin and tonics

356 kcal

King Steer Meal burger 

1360 kcal


3250 kcal (+1250 kcal excess)

    Sunday to Thursday: deficit of 2500 kcal

    Friday and Saturday: excess of 2500 kcal

    In just 2 days, the calorie deficit you worked so hard for during the week has been reversed.





    There seems to be many products on the market which promise a “detox” or to detoxify your body.


    This is such a trending topic at the moment. Simply put, “detox” means to rid the body of harmful substances (toxins). These toxins can be external (air pollution, smoking or alcohol) or internal by-products of metabolism. The prolonged presence of these toxic products in the body can have damaging effects.

    There are so many supplements (and FAD diets) in the market today which promise quick fixes and whole-body detoxification… Are these products really necessary or are marketing schemes getting the better of you? Anything promising a quick fix should already be a red flag.

    Let us look at the evidence.

    The human body has its own highly efficient, unbelievably effective, built-in detoxifying organ, the liver. Not only this, but the body also has a host of other built in detoxifying metabolic systems. Majority, (75%) of the body’s detoxification happens in the liver, and the large remainder in the intestines or the human GIT.

    I have heard that people juice spinach and celery to try and detoxify their bodies. Is there any evidence to prove that foods can detoxify our body?

    There are many beliefs that foods have certain “super” properties. Celery juicing is one of these, apple cider vinegar is another, but these food FAD trends are another topic for another day…

    There is, however, demonstrated evidence that certain phytochemicals in foods can enhance this natural built-in detoxification in the body. One of these phytochemicals is called sulforaphane, which is naturally found in cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables are those vegetables of the cabbage family and include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, radish, turnips, and bok choy. Organosulfur compounds found in onions and garlic, also act as catalysts for our natural detoxification pathways.

    Another example of detoxification enhancers are prebiotics and probiotics.

    Probiotics are living microorganisms (healthy bacteria and yeasts) that increase the healthy beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome (if consumed in sufficient quantities). They are found naturally in fermented food products like yoghurt and sauerkraut and also in supplements.

    Prebiotics are what we call functional foods. They are contained within certain foods. Prebiotics are the indigestible starch components of certain foods which stimulate the growth of healthy gut bacteria. They are fermented by our healthy gut bacteria, or “food” for your gut. Food sources of prebiotics include bananas, wholegrains, high fibre foods, artichokes, wheat bran, oats, apples, soybeans, legumes, barley, onions, and garlic.

    Fifty percent of the body’s lymphoid tissue (which is the medical term for the tissue responsible for immunity) is actually located within the gut (and in the human intestines). And so, it would make sense that the compounds (such as sulforaphane, organosulfur compounds, pro and prebiotics) are found in foodstuffs which we consume, and which travel in the gut. This pathway is thus appropriate because they enhance the local detoxification processes situated in the gut. They essentially “feed” this lymphoid tissue.

    To summarize detoxification, we would just like to remind you that in fact, the human body has its own built in detoxifying mechanisms, and that supplements/”superfoods”/magical detoxifying juices which promise to detoxify your body are not necessary.

    There are certain compounds in foods which can enhance our natural detoxifying mechanisms however, and these foods are encouraged and should be included in your diet. It is beneficial to consume these foods on a daily and weekly basis in a balanced, varied dietary pattern, to boost your natural detoxification mechanisms.




    Supplementation: A universal cure, or a brilliant marketing scheme?


    Think about your local pharmacy, and the isles and shelves filled with so many supplements often “on special”, promising to detoxify your body, miraculously clear your skin, boost your immunity, or increase your energy levels instantaneously! Do you ever stop to consider whether these claims are true or if they are just trying to sell you a product? Think about all the marketing of these products. Very often they will be promoted, often sold in a “2 for 1” deal or on a buy 1 get something free combination.

    Is there evidence to back-up these claims and how should consumers be responding?

    This is such an important question especially since so many consumers get trapped in marketing schemes or are persuaded that they will be “unhealthy” or “unwell” if they are not taking a handful of pills every day. There are so many supplementation products available nowadays, produced by many differing brands and manufacturers, in varying compositions. The packaging is always very enticing, using bright colours and bold text, making every effort to draw the customer in. There seems to be a product on the market for every ailment. There are supplements claiming to clear skin, detoxify the body, promise quick unrealistic weight loss, improve nails and hair, boost immunity, enhance energy and the list goes on and on and on. It appears almost everything has an ability to fix an issue or help you lose weight but it’s important that people first know what is contained within in their supplements, why or why not they should take a supplement; and whether a doctor (health professional) would support them taking this supplement.

    What exactly are supplements?

    Supplements are any substances, extracts or mixture of substances taken in for the purpose of adding nutritional value to the diet. It is very important to emphasize that supplementation does not replace or substitute nutrition, but rather supports dietary intake and it is therefore additional nutrition. Many supplements contain what we call micronutrients. This is the fancy term for vitamins and minerals which play a vital role in metabolism and whole-body function on a cellular and molecular level. Vitamins and minerals are essential for optimum body functioning, and most of the time, we don’t even realize we are consuming them packaged within the food that we eat!

    Supplements do not contain unapproved ingredients such as steroids, hormones, or scheduled drugs and can therefore be bought without prescription or “over the counter”; without the supervision of a medical professional…

    Very interestingly, the most popular products bought are multivitamin-minerals, calcium(women), vitamin C, fish oil, herbals, probiotics, vitamin D, probiotics, “weight management” supplements and sporting enhancement products.

    Who should take supplements and why?

    Supplements are only necessary to take if there has been documented deficiency (or a lack of) a nutrient or micronutrient in a consumer’s body. This can be determined through blood samples and laboratory testing. Additionally, supplements are indicated for persons who follow dietary patterns which restrict certain foods or food groups (and in turn are excluding certain important nutrients). Basically; anybody who is not eating a balanced diet, may require a supplement of a particular nutrient they are not consuming from food.

    With this being said however, many adults and children fail to meet dietary guidelines of micronutrients for many reasons. They may under-consume (among others) dark green leafy vegetables, dairy, orange vegetables, legumes, protein or wholegrains. Many people avoid certain food groups because of allergies or intolerances. For example somebody who is allergic to casein (cows milk protein) will not consume any dairy and consider taking a calcium phosphate supplement. Sometimes children are generally very fussy eaters and avoid all fruit and vegetables. Other examples of restrictive dietary patterns are vegetarians. A vegetarian person will not eat meat, chicken, fish, pork, or the flesh of any animal, but they may eat eggs and milk because no animal has died in the process of acquiring milk and eggs.

    In these instances supplements can be considered, to correct any nutrient deficit which would be proven by blood samples.

    It is important to emphasize that your health care professional (such as a dietitian, doctor, nurse, pharmacist) should be consulted FIRST before you consume or purchase any supplement.

    I am plant-based. Should I consider supplementation?

      A vegan is a person who does not consume any food derived from an animal or animal product and typically does not consume products or materials derived from animals. This simply means they do not eat meat, chicken, fish, eggs, or milk. The only nutrient vegans cannot attain from an exclusive plant-based diet is vitamin B12, and this should be an important nutrient to supplement. If vegans consume a properly structured diet and pay attention to important nutrients, they do not need other supplements. We would support those vegans who work with a registered dietitian or nutrition professional to understand and implement complete nutrition in a plant-based regime. If the diet is proven to be insufficient in certain nutrients, supplementation will be indicated. Some common supplements used in these contexts would be micronutrients such as iron, calcium-magnesium, vitamin B complex, plant based protein supplements, and omega 3’s (plant sources).

      Supplementation is also definitely indicated for those people with increased requirements than a normal recommended dietary intake (RDA). Supplementation can be useful for underweight children/consumers who struggle to get in enough daily calories. Very importantly, supplements are also indicated for people who have increased requirements for certain nutrients such as pregnant women (who would typically take an iron, a folic acid and sometimes a calcium supplement). Athletes are another interesting group, because of the increased demand and use of the body’s nutritional stores during intense periods of physical activity. Other examples of people with increased requirements would be people with chronic illnesses or those with food allergies which eliminate major food groups. For example, a person who is lactose intolerant may be avoiding dairy entirely, and consequently their diet may be insufficient in calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, and magnesium, and they should be considering supplementation.

      If you eat a balanced diet, including all the food groups, with variation you don’t need to supplement?

      It is always advisable and best to consume all nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fibre, vitamins, trace elements and minerals) from food sources instead of supplements. The human body was efficiently designed to absorb these nutrients from food. 

      In summary, supplements are not necessary, if you are consuming a balanced diet, within a healthy dietary pattern. If a variation of food types is consumed, a person’s micronutrient needs (or requirements) will be fulfilled. Any benefits from micronutrient supplementation are only rendered if there was a previous deficiency of a specific nutrient. Supplementing in doses excess to normal body requirements is not beneficial for optimum functioning, and most of the time a waste of money.