Modern lifestyles are a curious, and unhealthy, mixture of “stop” and “go” – most of us spend the long hours of our working days sitting, sedentary behaviour that’s considered so bad for our health that it’s been dubbed “the new smoking”; but on the other hand, we juggle busy work, family and social lives, struggle to find time for our hobbies and physical activities, and often don’t get enough sleep. To make things worse, many of us eat unhealthy diets, and smoking and alcohol consumption are ways of coping for many people.
While all of this takes a toll on our wellbeing, there is one way that we can mitigate the health risks modern lifestyles pose, and that’s by incorporating more natural ingredients and supplements into our diets.
Return to natural medicine
“Consumers are realising that natural ingredients are far more beneficial and don’t have harmful side-effects, as prescription drugs” says Bruce Dennison, president of the Health Products Association of South Africa (HPASA), which has been at the forefront of the natural health products, nutritional dietary supplements and complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) industries for almost forty years. The growth of the vitamins and dietary supplements market in South Africa is 76,6% from 2011 to 2016 according to a Euromonitor report.
Vanessa de Ascencao, nutritional consultant and a member of the HPASA, cites as one example adaptogen herbs – natural substances that help the adrenal system regulate hormones and manage stress, such as ashwagandha, ginseng and astragalus. “Adaptogen herbs have been around for centuries but they’ve recently gained popularity as they help the body fight fatigue, stabilise blood sugar and boost the production of key hormones,” she explains. Adoptogen herbs are now found in many supplements available in South Africa.
Causes of ill health
For many people, that general feeling of exhaustion stems from a lack of B vitamins. This deficiency can cause further ailments such as muscle weakness, joint pain and shortness of breath. “B vitamins are vital in supporting processes like nutrient conversion, cell repair and certain forms of energy production,” explains De Ascencao. She advises using a B-vitamin supplement in a sublingual spray, which is administered under the tongue.
Another health-promoting natural ingredient is the “superfood” spirulina, is nutrient-rich blue-green algae that has ten times more beta-carotene than carrots; a three-gram serving provides more antioxidant activity than five servings of fruits and vegetables. Spirulina helps to balance blood sugar and protect our cells from damage, and its anti-inflammatory properties reduce joint pain.