The LA Times and Chicago Tribune both ran a feature on food nutrition today that provides the latest consumer information–very well packaged and explained–on the concept of immune balance. This story pertains specifically to inflammation and how an over-reactive immune system can turn a simple inflammatory episode into a chronic health condition. The piece talks about foods and supplementation that may help reduce chronic inflammation over the long term, potentially reducing risk for a number of basic health problems so common in our lives; heart problems, diabetes, osteoarthritis, etc.
It’s such a refreshing story to read when compared to the recent spate of trouble some prescription drugs have encountered when promoted or used for off-label applications to “treat” a variety of conditions for which the drug was not intended.
As the story points out, food and supplements don’t work the same as drugs. Drugs are created to provide a relatively fast therapeutic effect. Food and supplement regimens can also make an impact on health conditions, but they take time and persistence and commitment to stick with the program. But the results can be compelling and even dramatic.
Many dietitians are proponents of “food-only” solutions for condition-specific health problems. I remember Dr. Jeff Blumberg, a leading antioxidant researcher at Tufts University and a big food proponent as well, telling a conference of nutrition industry experts that “you need both. You need food and supplementation.” To get enough of a certain nutrient to spur a change in serum content of that nutrient delivered to the body, one might need to eat 5 big servings a week of fish for DHA or 3 big bowls of romaine lettuce a day for chromium or manganese. That’s just not practical or real for the everyday Joe or Josephine.