Recently, one of my weight-loss patients came into the office very discouraged because she had actually gained a pound since her last visit. “I’m hungry all the time,” she stated. Troubleshooting revealed that she had been getting her vegetable intake via a powdered “greens” nutritional supplement. She brought it in for me to have a look. Like many of these types of greens mix nutritional supplements, it was a ‘proprietary blend’. The list of ingredients took up one whole side of the container, but the quantities of each ingredient in the proprietary blend were not listed separately–therefore, I had no way of knowing what was actually in it. Two teaspoons of dense powdered greens mix purportedly provided a complete serving of vegetable nutrition. Typically, these supplements do not taste very good, so she was mixing it into a large glass of orange juice several times a day. The sugar load from orange juice without the bulk provided by actual leafy greens and fresh vegetables translated into an empty stomach and ravenous hunger within a short period of time.
This case strongly illustrates the point that nutritional supplements should complement a healthful diet, not replace it. There are nutritional benefits of a whole foods diet that a vegetable replacement or greens mix just cannot match entirely. The beneficial substances found in vegetables (commonly called phytochemicals) can be condensed, but the nutritional value is just not the same without the natural fiber and biological water contained in the whole plant. When it comes to phytochemicals offering healing properties, plants classified as herbals are far superior to food plants. Medicinal herbs are healing powerhouses, but conversely, they do not offer much in the way of other nutritional value. Fortunately, the healing properties of herbs can be intensified with concentrated extracts contained in capsule form. This eliminates the need to take a bitter-tasting difficult-to-mix powder.
Not to say that we will never have a greens mix at the Vital Plan; these nutritional supplements do have some value if placed in proper perspective, but they are not a present priority. A healthy diet and lifestyle, combined with Prevention Plus and Krill Oil Plus, cover all the bases of basic disease prevention thoroughly, and our OPTIMIZE supplements extend that range even further.