Optimum Nutrition: Achieving Peak Performance

Introduction:  Basic Optimum Nutrition Today

Basic optimum nutrition today entails a balanced diet from fresh foods and additional supplements.

Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) and Recommended Nutrient Intakes (RNIs) give us the bare minimum of nutrients required to ward off deficiency diseases such as beri-beri, rickets, scurvy and night blindness. What they do not account for are the amounts needed to maintain maximum health rather than borderline health.

In our chemically polluted and stress-filled world, our nutritional requirements have been increasing. The number of kilojoules or kilocalories we require have been decreasing as our general level of physical activity has declined. This means we are faced with the need to somehow get more nutrients and less food. At the same time, due to the cooking and processing of foods, which destroy most nutrients, and due to soil depletion, getting even the RDAs of vitamins from today’s diet has become quite hard to do. This means that to obtain the optimal amount of many nutrients, it is necessary to take them in supplement form (1).

The real killers of humankind can be found among the chronic metabolic diseases. Coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer are responsible for 71% of all these deaths in the United States. The medical treatment of these diseases has been disappointingly unsuccessful leaving prevention as the only alternative approach at this stage. Fortunately many chronic metabolic diseases are preventable. Of the human cancers, 70-80% are related to environmental factors and is therefore preventable. A survey by the US Department of Health has shown that lifestyle contributes 51%, environmental 20% and inherited disease 19%. to overall mortality and that the impact of medical intervention the reduction of mortality is limited to a mere 10%.


The absence of a diagnosed clinical disease does not necessarily imply the presence of health. Dr J Bland was the first to use the terms ‘vertical disease’ and ‘horizontal disease’. Vertical disease is the state in which an individual is living with fatigue, depression, headaches, weakness, lack of energy, increased susceptibility to disease, insomnia, accelerated aging and general unhappiness without being formally diagnosed as sick. This state has profound effects on an individual’s mental state and thought patterns.

In the state of horizontal disease an individual has been clinically diagnosed as ill and is confined to bed. This usually prompts the doctor to take action, which, if successful, temporarily restores the patient to the former state of vertical disease while he awaits the next episode of horizontal disease. Medical intervention at this stage frequently consists of the suppression of symptoms, which usually makes the patient feel better in the short term. In the long term, however, because the cause has not been removed, the patient gradually reverts to the same condition, which once again calls for medical attention.

At this point the patient needs to be advised why he became ill in the first place. The patient needs to be informed what he could and should do to prevent the recurrence of the disease and how to prevent similar lifestyle and diet related diseases in the future.

A large segment of the public is already vaguely aware of the considerable health advantages associated with a change in diet and increased vitamin and mineral intake. It is unfortunate that much of this takes place without official (medical) guidance. Much greater benefit could have been derived if the medical fraternity could guide micronutrient supplementation programmes professionally and realistically, provided that this be done in a responsible and knowledgeable manner (1).

The Role of Nutrition in Health

Food is essential for health. Without sufficient energy and nutrients, the body’s ability to function normally is impaired. If the body is starved, life can only be sustained for a matter of weeks.

During the twentieth century much was learned about the role of nutrients in maintaining health, and the requirements for them to prevent deficiency diseases such as scurvy, pellagra and anaemia. It has become clear that diet also plays an aetiological role in the development of many life-threatening conditions associated with ageing, especially cardiovascular disease, stroke and cancer, as well as those causing significant morbidity such as constipation, obesity, osteoporosis and dental caries.

It is also being increasingly acknowledged that ‘health’ is more than just the absence of disease. Good health requires both physical and mental wellbeing and hence encompasses quality of life. Improving health requires consideration of issues such as education, employment, housing, poverty and social isolation, as well as dietary objectives and healthcare provision.


1. Diet and Health


A healthy diet has to fullfil two objectives:


  1. It must provide sufficient energy and nutrients to maintain normal physiological function, and permit growth and replacement of body tissues.

  2. It must offer the best protection against the risk of disease.


Offering the best protection for disease

The type of diet which minimizes the risk of chronic disease is one which:

    • has an energy content which is appropriate for body weight. Both underweight and overweight increases the risk of morbidity and mortality

    • contains a relatively small proportion of this energy in the form of saturated fat. Most dietary fats should be composed of mono-unsaturates, together with sufficient Ω-6 and Ω-3 poly-unsaturates

    • contains relatively high proportion of its energy in the form of complex carbohydrate and a very low portion as refined sugars

    • has a high fibre content, derived from both complex starch and fruit, vegetables and pulses

    • is relatively low in sodium and high in potassium

    • is balanced in overall terms, including vitamin and mineral needs

The impact of diet on all aspects of health has to be borne in mind. For example, measures to reduce saturated fat intake to prevent CHD should not reduce the intake of iron or calcium and increase the risk of anaemia or osteoporosis.

Recent trends in food intake

Eating habits and meal patterns have altered. The desire to spend less time shopping, preparing, cooking and even eating food means that people eat fewer traditional meals within the home and more food in snack form, on the move or outside the home. Advances in food technology and the advent of the domestic freezer and microwave make it increasingly easy to prepare instant meals. At the same time, people have become less physically active both at home and at work. Labour-saving devices are available for household core; the television and home computer often dominates leisure time and the car is used for journeys that before might have been made on foot or by bicycle. Many types of education now involves electronics rather than physical effort, e.g. machinery may be operated from a control panel instead of manual security may be monitored by watching a closed-circuit TV screen rather than on foot.

The net result of this is that it has become easier to eat a diet that no longer balances nutritional needs. Dietary intakes tend to:

    • Provide too much energy relative to energy needs

    • Lack variety. Paradoxically, despite the enormous increase in choice of food available, lack of variety is a problem in many diets. In the past, food choices tended to be governed by what were available, and the seasonality of food production tended to ensure that a variety of food would be eaten throughout the year. Nowadays, people can more easily choose food on the basis of what they like. Some people choose to eat the same favourite foods most of the time.

    • Lack fresh food, especially fresh fruit and vegetables. Less time for food preparation means that meals are often something quick and easy derived from carton, packet or can, possibly high in fat, sugar and salt. Ready meals may be eaten without accompanying vegetables (2).

    • Entails nutrient losses in whole food. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures for example when transported, cooked or sterilised, leads to vitamin losses that are usually substantial. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the effects of the various destructive operations and procedures that the food is subjected to are cumulative. For example wheat from the fields is first harvested, then cleansed, milled, subjected to various refinement procedures, packed, transported, stored and finally cooked. The amount of nutrient loss and the ultimate cumulative loss may be high, varying from 60% to 90% for the respective vitamins. The most severe loss of nutrients results from refinement and cooking.

    • Entails mineral deficiencies in soil. Humans eating plants that have been grown in mineral deficient soil will develop minerals deficiencies. This frequently happens in urban settings where commercial gardens are the only source of vegetables.

    • Are influenced by medical drugs. The extent to which medicines may affect nutrient availability and requirements is a neglected area of clinical nutrition. Some medicines can cause a nutritional derangement in patients that can aggravate morbidity and mortality in connection with the use of such drugs (1).

Achieving Healthy Eating

Achieving permanent beneficial change in an individual’s diet is notoriously difficult. In order to do so the many influences on dietary behaviour have to be considered, barriers to change explored and behavioural techniques applied.

Many barriers to dietary change exist and may include:

    • Lack of perception of the need to change (2).

    • Lack of people’s ability or motivation to use food properly (1).

    • Negative attitudes towards healthy eating. Margetts et al (1998) found that people who had not changed their dietary habits were more likely to believe that healthy foods were just another fashion or expensive; they were also less likely to care about what they ate. Nearly three quarters of them believed that the experts never agree about which foods are good for you.

    • Lack of time. Lifestyles and irregular patterns were often cited as barriers to healthy eating, especially among younger respondents and those with a higher level of education .

    • People with problems with taste and acceptability may feel that healthy eating is less enjoyable or that it requires them to give up all their favourite foods.

    • Cost: Healthy eating is often perceived to be expensive because it is associated with costly foods such as lean meat, fish and fresh fruit. Healthy food choices need not always incur greater cost but cost can be a significant barrier to change for lower income groups. If the diet consists of high proportions of cheap meat products, bread and hard margarine it is difficult to make healthier choices without spending money.

    • Similar barriers to change may also exist with other aspects of lifestyle behaviour such as increasing the level of physical activity, which may be adjunct to dietary advice.

Achieving healthy eating therefore requires far more than dispensing dietary advice. Identifying and helping people to overcome real or perceived barriers to change is essential. Misunderstanding of what is involved, still persist and need to be addressed. The role of the health educator is not to tell people what to do, but to ask what they think is possible to achieve and guide them as to how this can be done. Advice needs to be personally relevant taking social, economic and lifestyle factors into account. Targets for change should be positive (stressing what people can, rather what they cannot do) and attainable for that particular person. For some people, a few simple goals (e.g. increasing the number of portions of fruit and vegetables per day) will have most impact; too many messages can be seen as unachievable and hence more likely to be abandoned (2).

2. Supplements

The official policy of many health authorities and professional bodies like medical, nutritional and dietetic associations are that vitamin and mineral supplementation is not necessary if a ‘balanced diet’ is consumed. In spite of this advise 100 million Americans regularly take supplements. Interestingly, although the American Dietetic Association also subscribes to the above policy, a survey at one of its meetings, which involved 2000 dieticians and nutritionists, indicated that only 60% of these professionals were themselves regularly taking supplements in spite of the advice of their own professional body (1).

The consistency of evidence in the scientific literature shows that dietary supplements help prevent disease, a position supported by two of the world’s most leading medical journals.

On 19 June 2002, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reversed its longstanding anti-vitamin policy by advising all adults to take at least one vitamin pill each day. According to the Harvard scientists who wrote the new JAMA guidelines, it appears that people who get enough vitamins may be able to reduce their risk of illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis.

The April 9, 1998 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine featured an article titled Eat right and take a Multivitamin that was based on a series of positive studies showing the disease prevention benefits of dietary supplements (3).

Many prominent clinicians are beginning to accept the necessity of vitamin supplementation under modern conditions. Dr WA Krehl is one such clinician whose experience in practice has convinced him of the existence of clinically significantly deficiencies in the population. Dr Krehl is the president of the Medical College in Philadelphia in the United States. Prior to this he was an Editor-in-Chief of the America Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It is one of the standard procedures at his clinic to take a dietary history of each patient. When Dr Krehl reviewed these histories, he found that most of his clients did not eat properly, despite the fact that generally their careers placed them in the executive bracket, so they could easily afford a well balanced, varied and nutritionally adequate diet. His conclusion was that the widespread nutritional imbalances and micronutrient shortages as reflected in national surveys, were not so much the result of a food supply that was deficient, but rather a ‘deficiency’ in people’s ability or motivation to use food properly.

He strongly favours multivitamin and mineral supplementation and recommends it to his patients because he believes it is a simple, economical and highly practical way to ensure that they receive 100% of the RDA for their essential micronutrients, and because he believes these intakes are important to health and well-being.

Dr Krehl disagrees with the theory that nutrition education can correct all poor eating habits. According to him eating habits are deeply ingrained and are often a function of lifestyle, divorced from nutritional consideration altogether. This makes them quite difficult to change.

Change requires a willingness to undergo some inconvenience, deprivation and rescheduling activities. They require time, patience and commitment in addition to education and knowledge more in tune with reality and therefore more useful would be nutrition education that encompasses the proper role of supplementation.

He emphasises the widespread nutritional inadequacies by quoting the 1977 Nation Wide Food Consumption Survey in the USA, according to which significantly percentages of the population were consuming less than 70% of the RDAs.

Even more noticeable are the micronutrient shortages amongst the hospitalised population.

The wisdom of maintaining the best nutritional health possibilities is self-evident. From my perspective, it certainly makes sense to err on the side of caution and ensure adequate micronutrient intakes with a well-balanced multivitamin supplement, especially under populations known to have a nutritional risk, such as dieters, pregnant and lactating women, adolescent girls, smokers, alcoholics, the elderly, low income groups and others.

Finally another opinion of Dr Krehls that is worth mentioning is his belief that therapeutic amounts of micronutrients should not be used without medical supervision. Unless doctors are willing to give strong counsel on the proper use of supplements, I doubt if anyone will listen to our warnings about improper use.

He concludes: Ín addition to education about food, consumers need nutrition education that teaches the proper role and value of rational supplementation and cautions against improper use (1).


Nutrient Deficiencies

1. Hidden nutrient deficiencies


Chronic metabolic disease


Mortality rates as a result of chronic metabolic diseases (cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke), has increased. Medical intervention has failed to curb the relentless increased loss of life due to these silent diseases. They have been called silent because they normally develop and progress over a long period of time without the patient being aware of it. It is during this phase that the diseases are relatively easy to arrest, and even reverse, as long as the patient understands the risks associated with present-day living conditions.

In America nearly 40% of the population suffer from some form of degenerative disease, half of which is associated with cardiovascular conditions. There 20 million victims of arthritis, mental institutions are overflowing and the number of children who suffer from chronic health problems is alarmingly high – and on the increase.

Treatment of these diseases focus on treating the symptoms once these symptoms became manifest and noticed by the patients. Very little is done to address the fundamental causes of these diseases.

The problems surrounding chronic metabolic diseases go well beyond their effect on mortality statistics: these diseases also affect the quality of life. The absence of diagnosed or clearly recognised disease does not imply that a person is healthy. The presence of sub-clinical disease (vertical disease) involves vague symptoms of ill health like fatigue, depression, headaches, weakness, lack of energy, increased susceptibility to disease, insomnia, accelerated ageing, etc. These symptoms goes well beyond the physical inconvenience that the patient experiences. It has a profound influence on a person’s mental state, thought patterns and, as a result, behaviour – something that has received scant attention thus far and of which few people are aware. It influences a person’s initiative, ability to maintain a positive attitude and personal disposition, and ultimately the capacity to succeed in life.

These vague symptoms of vertical disease are extremely common. A person is only clinically diagnosed as sick (horizontally sick) when the ongoing destructive process in the body have advanced to the stage when some form of organ or system failure causes symptoms to develop and the doctor is able to correlate them with a clinical disease entity. The drug treatment is usually directed at ameliorating the symptoms; because this treatment is often successful, the patient feels better in the short term and returns to the former state of vertical or sub-clinical disease. Yet, because the fundamental causes have not been addressed, the patient soon requires further medical treatment. More drugs may be prescribed, bringing their own long-term side effects.

In the meantime, neither the doctor nor the patient realises that they are witnessing the consequences of a lifetime of destructive life style and dietary habits. Or even if the doctor realises it, he is under pressure to heal the patients as soon as possible.

How do we become clinically ill?

The primary and most fundamental need of all living organisms is food. There are many good reasons for this. The human body consists of between 8 trillion to 10 trillion cells, which is 20 000 to 30 000 times the entire population. These cells have predetermined lifespan in different organisms and die off in an orderly manner to be replaced by new cells. The turnover rate varies from organ to organ. In some it takes merely a few hours and in some organs it can take a few years. Approximately 1000 million cells have to be replaced by new ones every hour in the human body.

The fundamental laws of cell growth

The environmental factors that are necessary for the growth of cells are temperature, water, oxygen and the presence of appropriate quantities of the above-mentioned nutrients. All living cells will respond with maximum vitality and health under ideal conditions. In practice, living cells in our bodies or elsewhere, practically never encounter such conditions, including the availability of nutrients. They therefore seldom grow and perform maximally. Different cells and organisms require different quantities of known nutrients. Some organisms (e.g. certain bacteria) are able to produce some of the nutrients and are therefore independent of external sources. This occurs mostly in lower organism and does not apply to a significant extend in the case of human beings.

Sub-optimal nutrition is very common under practical conditions in nature. The field of agricultural plants may differ as much as 100-fold depending on the nutritional potential of the soil. The nutritional value of plants grown under these conditions for the human consumer will vary to the same degree as the fertility of the soil on which the plants were grown.

This important principle has been ignored and it is one of the main reasons for the poor nutritional quality of our food chain.

Nature seems to have made special provision for individuals of all species before birth in order to ensure survival of the species. In most animals, including humans, the nearest any individual will ever come to perfect nutrition is during the embryonic stage, provided that the mother’s own nutritional status is at a reasonable level.

In contrast, in the post-embryonic stage, sub-optimal nutrition is practically always the rule, and in any prevailing particular nutritional condition reflects some level of nutritional deficiency. Obviously the degree of malnutrition encountered in practice varies widely. The ideal nutritional state therefore remains an illusive ideal towards which we may all strive but very few achieve.

Poor nutritional conditions are, throughout the plant and animal kingdom and certainly also in humans, associated with greater tendency to develop and die from diseases. As nutritional conditions improve and approach ideal conditions, cells will grow and survive with greater vitality and they will also be better able to resist disease. This has been demonstrated in numerous animal experiments, and clinical experience shows it is also the case with humans.

Because different cell types in different organs each have their own critical nutrient requirements, all cells will not become sick simultaneously as a result of a particular deficiency. For example, the incidence of heart disease is greater in areas with low magnesium content in the drinking water.

The right time to intervene in a process of sub-clinical disease is when patients start having early warning signs of malnutrition. These include weight gain, mild elevations of blood pressure and blood lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides), raised homocysteine levels, fatigue and unexplained headaches.

Altered lifestyle and diet is the first step to recovery.

Interaction between the body and environmental factors

There are three fundamental biochemical mechanisms by means of which the body reacts to environmental influences: the nervous system, the endocrine system and the immune system. All three of which are critically dependant on dietary nutrients. The body’s use of available nutrients depends not just on the food intake but also on digestion, absorption and circulation, which in turn are dependent on nutrients as well as lifestyle factors such as exercise (4).


2. Identifying deficiencies


Identifying micronutrient deficiencies and nutritional requirements accurately may be impossible with the technology that is at present. Individual needs for optimal performance may differ substantially from the norm (1)

Neither reported dietary intake nor any other single criterion can be used by itself to evaluate the nutritional status of an individual (5).

Old-fashioned concepts of nutrition assess your needs by analysing what you eat and comparing it to the RDA for each nutrient. This method is very basic since RDA’s do not exist for a number of key nutrients; have little relevance to what is needed for optimal health; and do not take into account individual variations in need, or lifestyle factors that alter your needs, such as exposure to pollution, levels of stress or exercise.

The more methods that can be used to identify nutritional deficiency, the more effective will be the resultant nutrition plan (6).

The following may be useful to identify nutritional deficiencies:


  • Dietary surveys

A detailed record of food types and quantities can be analysed by dieticians a certain nutrient imbalances might be identified. Computerized food-analysis programmes are available, which will yield the necessary information from the data supplied by a dietary survey. This seems at the obvious place to start: finding out what goes in should reveal what is missing. The problem with this type of analysis is that food composition varies a great deal in different areas of the world. Individual needs are not accounted for. The efficiency with which food is absorbed may also vary widely. Dietary surveys have shortcomings (1).

Diet analysis comes in useful in assessing foods that are known to affect our nutrient needs such as sugar, salt, coffee, tea, alcohol, food additives and preservatives and foods that are harmful to health (6).


  • Signs and symptoms

These are the most useful indicators at present. The appended table gives a summary of some of the most meaningful signs and symptoms for the diagnosis of nutrient deficiencies.

The nrf has developed an integrated computerized diagnostic system of micronutrient deficiencies and symptoms. This tool is available on the nrf website: www.nrf.co.za. This allows a more precise relationship to be established between one or more symptoms and a particular vitamin and mineral deficiency. It partly overcomes the problem presented by the fact that most symptoms associated with vitamin deficiencies are non-specific and could be due to other causes and also that a particular symptom may results from deficiencies of more than one micronutrient.

Even if the symptoms indicate a definite deficiency of any particular nutrient, it is not advisable to supplement that nutrient alone. One should rather make appropriate dietary changes and embark on a general micronutrient supplementation programme, including a correctly formulated multivitamin and mineral supplement. Nutrient deficiencies seldom occur in isolation. Moreover nutrients are metabolically interrelated and interdependent. They should therefore not be administered in isolation.

Nutritional related symptoms represent frank vitamin deficiencies, reflecting severe metabolic and even organ damage. Long before this stage is reached, metabolic damage may be present already, of which neither the patient nor the doctor is aware of. Such sub clinical deficiencies are in a sense more serious than the overt conditions reflected above because they go unnoticed, causing serious long-term damage and contributing too many of the chronic metabolic diseases.

The above list illustrates the complexity of the problem of trying to determine micronutrient deficiencies on the basis of symptoms. Many symptoms can be caused by deficiencies of one or more than one vitamin. The problem can be simplified somewhat by introducing the principle of the clustering of symptoms: if any particular symptom is present that indicates a possible deficiency of a certain vitamin, then one looks for other symptoms that would also indicate a deficiency in that vitamin (1).

The advantages of deficiency symptom analysis are that health is being measured directly. Some people have criticized this method because it relies on subjective information from the person concerned – yet the large majority of medical diagnoses are based on subjective information form the patient (6).


  • Biochemical analysis

The analysis of blood (plasma), urine, red blood cells, hair and faeces may yield useful dietary information under certain circumstances. However there are limitations attached to each of these analysis and they are expensive.

Hair analysis may be particularly useful in detecting an overexposure to toxic minerals, such as lead and copper, and long-term deficiencies of certain others, such as zinc.

Blood analysis of both vitamins and minerals are less useful at this stage because they do not reflect the tissue (cellular) status of these micronutrients. For example, a normal blood magnesium level is no guarantee that an intracellular magnesium deficiency does not exist.

It is also important to note that inadequate blood levels of micronutrients do not necessarily indicate a low intake – impaired absorption may be the problem. In this regard, blood levels determinations are often useful. If blood levels do not rise appropriately after the administration of a particular nutrient, malabsorption should be considered (1).


Because each nutrient has a different function in the body, we cannot say that blood tests are better than urine tests or that analysis of mineral levels in the hair provides more accurate information than blood levels. For each nutrient there are different tests, depending what info is needed. To make an extensive series of tests would be expensive (6)


  • Drug and nutrient interaction

There are many interactions with drugs and nutrition. Drugs and nutrients are absorbed from similar sites and metabolised and excreted in similar ways as just as one drug can interfere with the absorption of another drug, some drugs may interfere with the absorption of a nutrient or visa versa. Side effects of drugs can increase, decrease or alter food intake.


  • Lifestyle analysis

These four methods of analysis, if properly applied, should define what is needed to be optimally nourished. But is good to check that needs for a particular lifestyle is adequately covered. Nutritional needs can increase for sports people, sick people, pregnant ladies, the elderly, people in cities with high stress occupations, allergy sufferers, People living in polluted areas and people with high alcohol consumption (6).

Futuristic Developments: Nutrigenomics and Micronutrients

Nutrigenomics seeks to provide an understanding of how nutrition affects the balance between health and disease by altering the expression and/or structure of an individual’s genetic make-up.

The ultimate goal of Nutrigenetics is to be able to generate effective recommendations for the individual – Personalised Nutrition.

  1. Principles of supplementation

There are four main principles that should always be considered in connection with supplementation:

  • synergism

  • biochemical individuality

  • do not expect results soon

  • realistic and significant quantities of supplements must be used in supplement programmes

  • Synergism

There are approximately 50 different nutrients that play a role in the body. They all occur together in food and work synergistically. No single nutrient ever acts in complete isolation and therefore nutrients should never be supplied alone in the form of a single supplement.

  • Biochemical individuality

Large differences exist between the vitamin and the mineral requirements of individuals. One person may need as much as 20 times more vitamin C or up to 40 times as much vitamin E for optimal health.

RDA values do not reflect optimal values and, perhaps more seriously, create the impression that everybody needs the same amounts daily of the various vitamins and minerals.

  • Do not expect results soon

While treatment with drugs usually produces some response within days, this is not the case with nutrient supplementation. Bearing in mind that new ‘healthy cells’ have got to be produced in the body to replace old ‘sick’ ones before clinical improvement can be expected, it is clear that clinical improvement should not be expected in a short time.

After starting a supplement programme, clinical results should not be expected in less than six to nine months. It takes 6 months to replace proteins in the body, 12 months to replace bones and 3 months to replace red blood cells.

  • Realistic and significant quantities of supplements must be used in supplement programmes

It is important to make sure that the elemental amount of a nutrient in a supplement is the amount what is needed. A supplement might claim that it contains 550mg of magnesium chloride. The consumer might not now that the elemental magnesium in this product is only 65.8mg (4).

It is also important to give significant amounts of a supplement to produce the needed results. The golden rule to any supplement is to work out the right doses and take them regularly (6). Amounts in supplements must at least be RDA related (1).

  1. Choosing the best supplements
  • Tablets versus capsules

The advantage of tablets is that, through compression, you can get more nutrients into tablets. The disadvantage is the need for binders and fillers. Provided the tablets are properly made there is no difference between the nutrient absorption between tablets and capsules. Most vitamins including oil-based vitamins can be provided in tablet form. Capsules are available in vegetable cellulose for vegetarians but soft gel capsules are made of gelatin.

  • Natural versus synthetic

By definition, a synthetic vitamin must contain ALL the properties of the vitamin found in nature. If not synthetic vitamins will not have the same effectiveness as a natural vitamin.

Synthetic vitamin C (ascorbic acid) has the same biological potency as the natural substance, although advanced scientific techniques have shown visible differences between the two. No one has yet shown that natural vitamin C is more potent or beneficial to take. Most vitamin C is synthesised from a ‘natural’ sugar such as dextrose; two chemical reactions later you have ascorbic acid. This is a little different from the chemical reactions that take place in animals that converts sugar to vitamin C. Vitamin C derived from a natural source, say, acerola cherries is considerably bulkier and more expensive.

Vitamins derived from natural sources may contain unknown elements that increase their potency. In nature vitamin E or d-α tocopherol is found with β-, γ- and Δ tocopherol and the inclusion of these with a measured amount of or d-α tocopherol may be of benefit.

Vitamin C is found in nature together with bioflavonoids, active ingredients that appear to increase its potency. The addition of citrus bioflavonoids or berry extracts to vitamin C tablets is one step closer to nature.

It is possible that yeast and rice bran, which are excellent sources of B vitamins, also contain unknown beneficial ingredients, so these vitamins are best supplied with yeast or rice bran. Brewer’s yeast tablets or powder are far less efficient ways of taking B vitamins than B complex vitamin supplements with a little added yeast. Some people are allergic to yeast. For this reason many supplements are yeast free.

Healthy diet tips

1. Eat your organic seeds and nuts (heaped tablespoon) or 1 tablespoon of cold pressed olive oil / flax oil.

2. Eat 2-3 fresh organic fruits per day.

3. Eat 3-4 servings of organic grains per day: rice, millet, rye, oats or quinoa (as cereal).

4. Eat 5 servings of organic vegetables per day: watercress, broccoli, spinach, green beans, peas, carrots, sweet potato and peppers.

5. Water: 1.5 – 2 liters per day – reverse osmosis, filtered, bottled or distilled.

6. Eat at least 50% food raw and eat organic fruit and vegetables.

7. Take your supplements 5 days per week.

8. Avoid burnt, fried, browned food as well as excess animal fat.

9. No sugar, white flour, processed food, preservatives and chemical additives.

10. Limit intake of alcohol (2-3 times a week – one drink), one cup of coffee and tea per day.

11. Eat organic beans and legumes daily (tofu, soya, quinoa & seed vegetables).

12. Always have proteins with each meal: cheese, yoghurt, eggs, nuts, fish, chicken, red meat.

13. Eat at least breakfast, lunch and supper – snack if needed in between with fruit and almonds.

14. Best way to prepare food:

Do a 2 minute sauté followed by adding water based sauce and let the food “steam-fries” at lower temperatures. Grilling, steaming, boiling or baking is better cooking methods than any form of frying. Don’t kill your food by cooking it to death – you destroy the live enzymes and nutrients.

15. rBST hormone free dairy products please

16. Rotate foods – don’t eat the same foods everyday.

17. Eat fish 2 to 3 times a week minimum.

Low fat fish (0.1-2.9%): angelfish, geelbek, hake, kingklip, kabeljou

Medium-fat fish (3-10.9): pilchards, snoek, tuna, yellowtail

High-fat fish (11-30%): barracuda, salmon, butterfish, herring, mackerel, sardines


The definition of stress by Wikipedia is as follows: “… the consequences of the failure of a human or animal body to respond appropriately to emotional or physical threats to the organism, whether actual or imagined”.

2 Types

  • Acute stress caused by: a movie, work, noise, loss in status, disease etc


  • Chronic stress:lack of sleep, always irritated, work, social isolation, bossy relationships etc


Long-term effects of stress

Stress causes an imbalance of the adrenal glands. Serious chronic stress can lead to the following:

  • Heart attack
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Strokes
  • Diabetes
  • Tiredness
  • Food: cravings and hungry all the time
  • Feelings: anxiety, fear, shyness, restlessness, depression
  • Thoughts: forgetfulness, negativity, lack of concentration
  • Behaviour: speech problems, crying, increased consumption of alcohol or drugs, isolation, mood swings, insomnia, hyperactivity
  • Physical: shakes, wet hands, dry mouth and throat, IBS, ulcers, weight increase or decrease, low immune system(flu’s to cancer), muscle and joint pains, hair loss, feeling cold all the time, headache, water retention, bloating, faintness
  • Deficiencies: magnesium, potassium, zinc, vitamin C, B6 and B12 and friendly bacteria in GIT.


Measure your stress levels and take action if needed


Stress scoreYour scoreDeath of family100 Divorce75 Break up of relationships65 Acknowledgement of high stress levels65 Personal injuries or disease53 Marriage50 Serious feelings about life50 Loss of employment or income45 Reconciliation45 Retirement45 Sudden change in partners health44 Pregnancy40 Sexual problems39 Additional family member39 Serious business adjustments39 Death of a close friend37 Deteriorisation in partners health35 New massive financial responsibility35 Problem with in-laws 29 Empty ness syndrome 28 Problems at work23 Feelings of failure 22 Lack of time feeling20 Total score

(take action if scores >170)  >350 high stress levels – high risk for immune system related diseases  170 – 350 average stress and increased risk for disease  <120 normal stress levels and no increase for disease


Self-help for

  • Check the symptoms
  • Medical checks
  • Reasons for your stress levels
  • Exercise: will reduce stress and mild depression and build self-confidence
  • Sleep enough – better concentration equals less stress
  • Eat often and eat enough – your brain uses 30% of all glucose in your blood. If your work and think harder, it needs more glucose
  • Supplementation: magnesium, potassium, zinc, vitamin C, B6 and B12 and probiotics
  • Drink enough good quality water – too much caffeine is not good
  • Take charge of your own life – know your strength and weaknesses
  • Type A persons are more at risk for heart disease – have a plan of action
  • Relaxation: get a pet, go for a massage, laugh a lot and ask for help
  • Evaluation: get help if needed at a professional Psychologist
  • Have good relations with people who care about you
  • Be realistic: we cant all like each other; don’t expect too much of yourself and other; be human and remember you will have problems in relationships
  • Improve communication: don’t be to hard or to soft on people
  • Do something new: learn to meditate @ Brahma Kumaris – Tel 021-671-9972 // www.bkwsu.orglearn to dance, walk in the mountains, paint, sport – renew your spirit, balance your life and get new outlook on life.

The Benefits of Regular Exercise


1. Musculoskeletal system

  • Increase muscle strength and muscle mass
  • Increases flexibility of muscles and range of joint motion
  • Produces stronger bones, ligaments, and tendons
  • Lessens chance of injury
  • Enhances posture, poise, and physique
  • Prevents osteoporosis


2. Heart and blood vessels

  • Lowers resting heart rate
  • Strengthens heart rate
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves oxygen delivery throughout the body
  • Increases blood supply to muscles
  • Enlarges the arteries that provide blood to the heart muscle
  • Reduces the risk of coronary heart disease
  • Helps lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Raises levels of HDL the “good” cholesterol


3. Bodily processes

  • Improves immune function
  • Aids digestion and elimination
  • Increases endurance and energy levels
  • Promotes lean body mass; burn fat


4. Mental processes

  • Provides a natural release from pent-up feelings
  • Helps reduce tension and anxiety
  • Improves mental outlook and self-esteem
  • Helps relieve moderate depression
  • Improves the ability to handle stress
  • Stimulates improved mental function
  • Induces relaxation and improves sleep
  • Increases self-esteem
  • Improves sexual function in both men and women


Exercise Programme

Pay special attention to the length of the sessions. To achieve a consistent metabolic effect, you have to get your heart rate up. Mix any of these exercises, but be sure to do one or several of them at least 6-7 times a week for the best results.













Weight Training






Stair Climbing



Martial Arts



Contact Sports






Brisk Walking









Roller Blading and Skating







How to stay Young Forever

  1. Take ownership of your health; it is your responsibility and your greatest asset – if you don’t have good health – nothing will make you happy.
  2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches only pull you down.
  3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop”. And the devil’s name is Alzheimer’s.
  4. Enjoy the simple things.
  5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.
  6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be alive while you are alive.
  7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it is family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, and hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.
  8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.
  9. Don’t take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, to the next country, to a foreign country, but Not to where the guilt is.
  10. Tell the people that you love that you love them, at every opportunity.


And Always Remember…………….

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.


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