When it comes to nutrition the philosophy at Cytoplan is that: a) There is a ‘Nutrition Gap’ in the population, supported by research, which means most people are not getting the nutrients they need for health from their diet. b) Nutritional supplements can bridge this gap when they contain the appropriate levels of nutrients; and also when the nutrients within are in a bioeffective form (for example ‘Food State and Wholefood’).
In the following article we will go into more detail regarding the principals and facts of the ‘Nutrition Gap’. And this will help to explain why most people today, even in the developed world, have significant nutritional shortfalls. Hence the importance of including nutritional supplementation as part of a regular health regime. Equally important is an understanding of the different ‘forms’ of food supplements available – and how the form of the nutrient impacts on its metabolic activity.
Explaining The Nutrition Gap
For many years now at Cytoplan we have presented the rationale that there is a nutrition gap in the diets of most people by virtue of several factors. The nutrition gap describes the difference between the levels of nutrients the average person, eating a reasonable western diet, is primarily obtaining from food, and those nutrient levels identified by research as being needed for optimal health in the population.
Nutrient shortfalls are caused by a number of different factors, including dietary intake, and this means that most people are not getting the level of essential nutrients needed for health and protection on a daily basis. This deficit impacts adversely on both immediate and long term health. The nutritional status of our bodies is dependent on six factors:
- Our food choices;
- Food growing, processing and preparation methods;
- The nutrient content of the food we eat;
- The ability of our bodies to assimilate these nutrients;
- Lifestyle factors, such as smoking, stress, alcohol intake, medications (etc.) – which give rise to extra nutrient need;
- Our level of activity (energy-expenditure).
If you are eating a typical Western diet all of the above are relevant to the nutrition gap in your life. However, even if you are adhering to what we would consider as an optimal human dietary regime such as the ‘Paleolithic Diet’, there are still two factors that can create nutrient shortfalls. These are a) the level of nutrients in the fresh foods you are eating and b) your level of activity.
Common Nutritional Shortfalls
The following tables demonstrates some common shortfalls for essential vitamin and mineral nutrient levels as they presently exist in the Western World. The left hand column in the table lists examples of the nutrients we need for health. Thereafter, (from left-to-right) the pink column shows the levels most of us are achieving from a good western diet. The green column shows the levels we (our physiology) needs for optimum health, and the orange column identifies the corresponding shortfalls (the ‘Nutrition Gap’). The levels in this orange column are therefore those we recommend people ingest regularly to avoid shortfalls.
The far right hand (blue) column identifies the upper safe level* of a nutrient to take in a supplement form ( * levels determined by EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority). This analysis is provided to give confidence that the levels of nutrients recommended in our Nutrition Gap programmes are much lower than the upper safe limits. The data in these tables was acquired from work by Dr Paul Clayton PhD in which he reviewed over 4,000 studies to arrive at the stated levels. 
Deficiencies in Metabolically Essential Nutrients
In every instance the average western diet is leaving us short of metabolically essential nutrients. As a specific example let us take selenium, a mineral essential for the health and integrity of every cell membrane in the human body, providing antiviral, antioxidant and protective properties, and a precursor for glutathione production. Yet in the main only those people taking supplements are getting sufficient selenium for optimal health.
Why is this the case? Selenium naturally occurs in the soil, and should be contained in all the soil, everywhere on Earth. In a natural and healthy cycle the mineral is taken up from the selenium rich soil by growing plants such as crops, fruit and vegetables. Subsequently the mineral content of these plants nourishes the people and animals that eat them. Meat eaters gain the benefit of the mineral in the animals that we eat too. So why isn’t this naturally and beneficial cycle happening today?
The early forms of agriculture were ‘sustainable’ as plants were grown in soil to which excess plant waste and waste from the animals (who had also consumed the plants) were returned. This process naturally re-mineralised and replenished the ground for the next crop. Early ploughing techniques also helped to evenly distribute the plentiful and natural fertiliser ‘mycorrhiza’. Mycorrhiza is a ground fungus that ‘biotransforms’ inorganic minerals into an organic form that makes the minerals readily useable by plants; thus ensuring good mineral uptake.
However with modern farming techniques (that have been in use for decades) the grown plants are harvested and shipped all over the world, and deep ploughing destroys the mycorrhiza. In addition the standard use of ‘NPK’ fertiliser (containing Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) deprives the soil of all the remaining sixty plus nutrients that would normally be present. So what do these dramatic changes in farming mean to the selenium content of our soils?
If selenium in the soil is taken up by growing plants, but not returned, the mineral levels gradually reduce in quantity to give the situation we have today where the World soils are 80% depleted of selenium. This essential mineral, once so abundantly rich in our soils, is now in a cycle of dwindling levels, due to modern farming techniques. Sadly there are only a couple of small pockets of land, (e.g.) Norfolk in the UK and Senegal in Africa, where the ground is still selenium-rich. 
So what is the Impact of selenium depleted soil and thus selenium-depleted fruit, vegetables and meat? Most people in the World today are selenium depleted. The Recommended Daily Allowance (‘RDA’) has recently been set at 39ug per day for the UK, and we have been given this RDA because experts are recognising our selenium levels are too low. However not only are most of us not getting 39ug per day on average – 39ug daily is simply not enough we would argue.
Keshan disease is a cardiomyopathy that affects young women and children in a selenium-deficient region of China. The acute form of the disease is characterized by the sudden onset of cardiac insufficiency, while the chronic form results in moderate to severe heart enlargement with varying degrees of cardiac insufficiency. The incidence of Keshan disease is closely associated with very low dietary intakes of selenium and poor selenium nutritional status. Selenium supplementation protects people from developing Keshan disease but cannot reverse heart muscle damage once it occurs. People in Keshan, who are susceptible, are ingesting 29ug/selenium per day – which as you can see is not much less than the 39ug/day – the target intake set for the UK population.   
It is also Interesting to note that viruses are known to mutate in selenium deficient hosts – and the first of these highly and rapidly mutated viruses emerged as avian flu and this originated from Keshan. Meanwhile the World Health Organisation tells us that adults need around 3ug – 5ug of selenium per kg of body weight per day for health, and that 5ug per kg per day is the upper limit that should be ingested.  
In summary this overview of selenium depletion is just one example of the ‘Nutrition Gap’ that even the best diet is unlikely to address. We could provide similar scenarios for all the vitamins and minerals essential for health – where modern farming and other factors means nutrient levels in both plant and animal foods are inadequate and at lower levels than fifty or one-hundred years ago.
RDA’s Are Not Enough
When the National Academy of Sciences drew up the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA’s) it never claimed these represented nutrient intakes designed to achieve optimum health. They were never intended as anymore than a ‘safety net’ with the specific purpose of preventing diseases of deficiency. The real mystery is why so many people (Doctors included) mistakenly believe RDA’s are levels of intake that will give rise to optimum health.
The Committee on Food and Nutrition of the National Research Council was established in 1940 to advise on nutrition problems in connection with national defence. One of its first concerns was to work out recommended daily allowances for the various dietary essentials, for people of different ages. The first RDA’s were set in 1941 to prevent scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) pellagra (niacin deficiency) and beriberi (vitamin B1 deficiency). And indeed these new RDA’s were very effective, for example taking 30mg vitamin C per day will prevent scurvy. But we now know that we need in excess of 500mg per day of vitamin C for optimal health tissue repair and antioxidant activity. 
The other 2 major weaknesses with current RDA’s is that: a) They are average values which do not take into account the needs of individuals where dosage requirements for some may be higher in certain circumstances. And b) The typical vitamin or mineral dose sufficient to prevent overt deficiency-states is always way short of the amount needed for optimum health and sustainable protection.
In recent years pioneering work by biochemist Professor Bruce Ames opened up a whole new understanding of how the body uses nutrients. It is now apparent the first call on nutrients by our body will be for immediate and acute needs. So for example ‘flight and fright’, illnesses, energy needs – however this is at the expense of protective nutrient levels for future needs. 
So, it is only if nutrients are ingested in excess of immediate needs that there will be sufficient nutritive levels left for protection and to be put into store for future times of extra need. So, even if you feel okay, you might not have nutrient reserves to deal with illness, accident, trauma, and other emergency situations that can arise at any time unexpectedly – and all of which have high nutrient demands to effect resolution.
Cellular, and hence biological, ageing is a process that takes second place in the hierarchy of nutrient use in the body. And such ageing is slowed down when sufficient membrane stabilising and DNA protective nutrients are present in excess of acute and immediate requirements. Conversely cellular ageing is hastened when those nutrients ingested are only sufficient to meet immediate needs, particularly where acute and chronic inflammatory conditions exist, as these are a high and ongoing steal of nutrient resources.
There is no shortage of evidence of the increase of cancers that occur when native populations, eating a nutrient dense diet, move to western countries and become ‘westernised’ . The cancers usually become apparent quickly after the changes in diet, indeed too quickly to be totally new. This demonstrates that the cancers were present in the individual before the move, but kept in check by dietary components acting as a shield to inhibit growth and progression of the cancer.  
The above findings are noteworthy when you consider the evidence that to succeed and produce clinical cancer a cancer cell must overcome innate problems and both escape and survive all the many host defences; namely:
- The innate immune system
- The adaptive immune system
- Cell contact inhibition
- Re-differentiators (from diet)
- Apoptotic mechanisms/inducers
- Protease and Metallo matrix protease inhibitors
And of equal importance, the greatest factor in impaired host defences that predispose to cancers is a shortage of micronutrients that are integral to the healthy function of all our defence systems, as mentioned above. And this, we would argue, is wholly preventable. 
Recent findings from population research carried out by the Governments nutritional advisory body (SACN) (Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition) and the World Food Programme identified: 
- There are nutrient deficiencies in every group of the population
- Most depleted are those who need most – the elderly, pregnant ladies and children
- Often sufferers are unaware, as there are no visible warning signs
- But consequences are disastrous – mental impairment, poor health and productivity, susceptibility to awhole host of chronic degenerative diseases, and even death
- 1 in 3 people in the UK are affected
To reiterate, most certainly one of the biggest factors in the nutrition gap is the food choices most of us make, and the shift of foods consumed now when compared to 80 years ago (and beyond). Then our diets were primarily vegetable based, now they are mainly meat based. The plant based diet was high in antioxidants and nourishment, whilst the meat based diet is high in cholesterol, saturated fat and low in the nutrients we need for health. This is how the dramatic dietary changes reflect on our intake of nutrients.
The above table shows the difference in nutritional intake in 500 k/cals of a diet based on animal food when compared with the same intake from 500 k/cals of plant foods. It is easy to see the plant-based diet is much higher in anti oxidants and protective nutrients.
Nutrition Decreasing AND Disease Increasing
Another significant and compounding factor in this nutritional shortfall is highlighted by the current UK Government ‘5 A Day’ message. An initiative wholly laudable however one which is not being adopted by most of the population; as we can see below.
Each portion of fruit and vegetables eaten a day gives 20% of our daily needs of antioxidant and protective nutrients. As you can see none of the groups above are eating the recommended 5 a day. The young are the worst off and their shortfall means they will be storing up huge problems for the future. As a comparison the Victorians had a minimum of 10 portions of locally grown fruit and vegetables per day. And in that era there was almost a nil incidence of the chronic diseases that prevail today. (Cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, hypertension, coronary artery disease, Asthma etc.)
In summary we have a set of compounding factors:
- Most people are eating less fruit and vegetables than their ancestors
- The fruit and vegetables are themselves less nutritionally rich than they were decades ago
- Most people are compensating by eating more meat and saturated fats, grains etc
- Yet we are exercising and energy expending less
And all these factors lead to a worrying picture where chronic degenerative diseases are increasing, obesity is rife, and health is in decline even for many after the age of 40. In addition many diseases which previously only affected the elderly are now affecting young people. For example age related macular degeneration (ARMD), so named because it used to be found only in the elderly, is now found in the young.
ARMD is a disease of nutrient deficiency, caused by a shortage of lutein, found in dark green vegetables. We need on average 6mg/day of lutein for the health and protection of the macular layer and retina, however most diets give 1mg/day at best. So we can begin to appreciate the many contributing factors, and potential wide spread health impact, of the modern nutrition gap.  
Since 1950 we have seen a huge increases in:
- Coronary artery disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Non-tobacco-related cancers
All of these are diseases of nutrient deficiency. What can we do to minimise or eradicate the ‘Nutrition Gap’? The best advice has to be to adhere to a diet that best fits our physiology, combined with a safe exercise programme, and on top of that we would advise taking a well formulated supplement to make up for any nutritional shortfalls.
A Well Formulated Supplement?
So next we need to explore the question “what is a well formulated supplement?”. A well formulated supplement is one that provides all the nutrients a person needs to make up for shortfalls, at the correct levels, and importantly in a bioeffective form.
All Cytoplan multi-formulations are designed with this in mind. The formulations contain all those nutrients identified by research as being in short supply in an average diet, at the levels of need. This means providing nutrient levels sufficient to elevate the average individuals intake to optimum levels in terms of health promoting effects.
The above text is taken from the Cytoplan 2015 catalogue for Health Professionals. The catalogue will be available to Health Practitioners in the coming weeks. We will be exploring the question “what is a well formulated supplement?” in a future blog article where we will delve into the topics of “bioavailability”, “bioeffectiveness” and providing an overview of the Cytoplan Wholefood and Food State supplement forms.
If you have any questions regarding this article, any of the health topics raised, or any other health matters please do contact me (Amanda) by phone or email at any time.
Amanda Williams, Cytoplan Ltd
[email protected], 01684 310099
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