Black Foot Raw

Nutrition Lab

Whole Foods vs Supplements


It was the 2016 Copa America Cup final, Chile vs Argentina.


I watched it with Stark, our production director, over a few bottles of beer. At least I was drinking the beer; he, being the cocktail snob, was kicking back with some pretentious colourful concoction.


“Argentina’s gonna win this. Easy,” said Stark, presenting his amateurish football views again.


“Why’s what?” I asked, even though I already knew his answer.


“Oh, c’mon. Messi’s in top form. Look at all his goals and assists for Barcelona this season. He’ll win the cup for Argentina singlefootedly.”


“We’ll see, we’ll see,” I said noncommittally.


Stark had already switched to beer by the time shootout started and Messi sent his penalty kick over the bar…


“How can Messi play so badly?” he bemoaned in the tone of someone who had just lost 500 bucks. “Messi’s had a brilliant season with Barcelona, scoring and assisting freely in all competitions.”


“It’s a bit different for Barcelona than it is for Argentina,” I explained, as I would to a young boy. “Messi’s a different beast at Barcelona with the synergy of the players he’s trained  with week in week out in with the same formation and tactics. He can’t expect him to perform the same in a different team with different players and tactics.”


Left: World Beater  Right: Egg Beater



In a way, it’s the same with nutrients.


The biological effects of consuming nutrients in the form of natural occurring whole foods is greater than the actions of individual food components. A fundamental feature of food is that the constituents are coordinated like players in a great football team. Therefore, the effects of small doses or naturally occurring vitamin E in meat acting in tandem with the other inherent nutrients would be greater than a dosage of vitamin E supplement.


The problem about pet nutrition lies in how we adhere to a reductionist theory. We understand foods by analysing the nutrients that comprise them. This is fundamentally flawed. For example, salt is sodium chloride. But when we look at its base elements, sodium is a highly reactive metal that explodes in water; meanwhile, chlorine is a highly reactive gas that is poisonous. In its natural state it is a nutrient. How much can you learn about sodium chloride by studying it’s constituents?


Another example: studies show that eating tomatoes has much more health effects on the prostate than eating the same amount of lycopene, the nutrient thought to benefit prostate. Conversely, eating the allergenic proteins of peanuts in isolation does not give allergic people the allergic reactions of eating whole peanuts.


Therefore, a person or an animal eating a diet consisting solely of purified nutrients in its Dietary Reference Intake amounts, without the benefit of the inherent coordination of other nutrients in food, may not thrive and probably would not have optimal health.


Just imagine taking a filler food without any nutrients at all. Rice, for example. Then add all the vitamin pills and powder that your body is supposed to need, maybe some artificial flavourings. There you have it. Eat it for 50 years and think what would happen.


We can’t believe we actually found this: fortifying rice with extrusion, the technology for adding ‘nutrients’ into kibbles.


There are 8000 phytonutrients present in whole foods that work together synergistically – 8000 of them interacting and working together – and we only examine the nutrient breakdown without understanding the complex processes among them.


Therefore, food, not nutrients, is the fundamental unit of nutrition. Minerals such as Ca, P, Mg, and Fe, are consumed in relatively high concentrations in a natural diet compared with recommended allowances determined using empirical methods. However, no negative effects have ever been observed while overdosing have often been recorded in commercial feline diets using supplements.


In fact, Supplements are for deficiencies, for use where the diet consistently lacks, for genetic or cellular mutations, therapeutic needs, and in disease treatment. (NOTE: Whole food supplements do not fall into this category.)


But enough about nutrients cause Argentina just lost their second consecutive Copa America final because Messi couldn’t perform as well for Argentina as he does for Barcelona.


“We can see why he is retiring soon,” said Stark, resigned to having lost a small fortune. “Do you think young Fati can replace Messi and do the same for Barcelona?”


“That’s even worse,” I said, “That’s like using a synthetic vitamin to do the job of the real thing. It will never have the same effect.”