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Science has confirmed, beyond any doubt, that nutrition is the number one way to prevent or reverse any chronic illness. There are other factors, such as genetics, toxins, exercise, sleep, and stress, but nutrition is more important than all of these other factors combined. And, it is well established that the Mediterranean Diet is the best diet for most people, based on a thirty-year study known as the Framingham Heart Study of over 120,000 nurses and their families. However, it is virtually impossible for anyone to get all of the nutrients they need from food alone. If your doctor says you can, you should seriously consider getting a new doctor. There are no scientific studies that say this is possible and over 20,000 studies that prove the value of the Mediterranean Diet, combined with nutritional supplements, for the prevention and reversal of most chronic disease. In fact, about 80 percent of chronic disease is preventable and reversible.

Evidence of the need for nutritional supplements can be seen in a study from the National Cancer Institute that looked at the diets of over 16,000 people and could not find even one person with a truly healthy diet. The study went on to report that a vast majority of the participants were deficient in eleven out of fourteen nutritional categories. There are at least eight nutrients that are usually deficient, in most people, and point to the need for nutritional supplements in order to prevent the development of chronic disease.

  1. Multiple vitamin and mineral—This supplement, along with a Mediterranean Diet, provides a nutritional base that everyone needs in order for cells to perform their everyday duties. However, there are not usually sufficient amounts for certain nutrients to protect our cells from challenges such as stress, aging, toxins, germs, and other common situations. Good brands include Life Extension, Metagenics and Source Naturals.
  2. Vitamin B Complex—We need more B vitamins than are found in a typical multiple due to stress and emotional challenges, as well as the prevention of asthma, allergies, mood conditions, exercise and immune protection. Take with the evening meal at the strength of 100. There are usually two levels of strength, 50 and 100. Good brands are Metagenics, Source Naturals and Life Extension.
  3. Fish oil—Omega 3 oils are needed to make cells softer, repair damaged cells, comate inflammation and improve cellular communication. Scientific evidence points to proven benefits for heart health, brain health, cancer prevention, as well as the prevention and treatment of MS. Most people need 1000 mg of EPA and DHA combined. Good sources include Carlson, UDO's, Life Extension, Metagenics and Source Naturals.
  4. Magnesium—This mineral plays a key role in many biochemical reactions in the body including transporting glucose and insulin into cells to make energy, and to help maintain a proper acid/alkaline balance. A pH balance of 7.0–7.4 helps to prevent chronic disease. Getting glucose into the cells helps with weight management and the prevention of diabetes. Magnesium is key to heart and brain health due to its crucial role in energy production. Good sources are Metagenics, Dr. Mercola, Life Extension and Source Naturals. Most people need about 400 mg near bedtime.
  5. Vitamin C—This is a very powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals, which cause many chronic diseases. Free radicals (pollution, smoking, fried foods, etc.) have a missing electron and vitamin C has an extra electron that it can use to neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are involved in most disease including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. The brain needs up to 200 times more vitamin C than other parts of the body. Most people need 1500 to 2000 mg of vitamin C spread out during the day. Good sources are Dr. Mercola's Liposomal form, Life Extension, Source Naturals, ALACER or Metagenics.
  6. Vitamin D3— This amazing vitamin/hormone is the strongest genetic modulator that we have available. That means that high levels of vitamin D3 (50–90 ng/ml) can turn off the genetic predisposition to many diseases, including cancer. Studies have shown that high levels can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 77 percent, and prostate cancer by 83 percent. Vitamin D3 is also the best-known nutrient for the prevention of the flu. Some research and some doctors indicate that it is even better than getting a flu shot. Men need about 2000 IU per day and women need about 4000 IU per day. Good sources are Dr. Mercola, Life extension, Source Naturals and Metagenics.
  7. Zinc—This mineral regulates communication between brain cells and the hippocampus, which, allows for good learning and memory maintenance. It is also a cofactor with over 300 enzymes necessary to make DHA and protein, as well as assist in cell signaling and the cell division (replacement) process. If cells are not properly replaced they become damaged and eventually die prematurely.
  8. Coenzyme Q10—This enzyme is very difficult to get from food alone. It is crucial for energy production in every cell and for protection of the DNA in our cells. It is so strong, that it alone was able to reverse kidney disease in 50 percent of patients in one small clinical study.

Evidence-based nutritional supplements that have been shown to be highly effective in treating the following illnesses:

  1. Alzheimer's disease—Coenzyme Q10, Benfothiamine, Vitamin D3, Lithium (treat)
  2. Kidney disease—Coenzyme Q10, Vitamin B1, Apple cider vinegar (treat)
  3. Fatty liver disease—Vitamin E (treat)
  4. Breast cancer—Vitamin D3 (prevention)
  5. Breast cancer—N-Acetyl Cysteine (treat)
  6. Prostate cancer—Vitamin D3 (prevent)
  7. Macular degeneration—Lutein, Zeaxanthin (prevent and treat)
  8. Skin cancer—Astaxanthin (prevent)
  9. Arthritis—Curcumin, Ginger (treat)
  10. Parkinson's disease—Coenzyme Q10, Vitamin D3 (treat)
  11. Flu—Vitamin D3 (prevent)
  12. Flu—Oregano, Olive Leaf Extract, Garlic (treat)
  13. Heart disease—Magnesium, Coenzyme Q10, Vitamin C (prevent and treat)
  14. Diabetes—Magnesium, Exercise, Chromium (prevent and treat)
  15. Tinnitus—Vitamin B12, Magnesium, Vitamin C (treat)
  16. ADD—Magnesium, Omega 3 oil, Vitamin B6 (treat)
  17. Brain plague—Curcumin (treat)
  18. Anorexia—Zinc (treat)
  19. Constipation—GI Replenish from Metagenics (treat)
  20. Depression—Magnesium, Omega 3 oils, Vitamin B complex (treat)
  21. PMS—Omega 6 oil, Zinc, Magnesium (treat)
  22. Asthma—Black seed oil (treat)

Beyond The Basics
Beyond the Mediterranean Diet, and these eight basic supplements, science has also proven that there are many other nutritional supplements that can be added when a chronic illness begins and needs some treatment for the nutritional cause of this illness. This is important, because conventional medicine treats the symptoms of illness, and not the causes. This is called managing disease, not reversing it. The reversal process involves the use of specific nutrients that support human physiology in the cellular repair program built into our bodies. Here are some of the evidence-based nutritional supplements (see the chart on the previous page) that have been shown to be highly effective in treating the following illnesses. The nutrients listed are just the most valuable ones and not all the nutrients that could be used to support the return to excellent health.

This short article is in response to many of my workshop participants who ask, "what nutritional supplements do I really need?" That is code for, "I don't really want to take them, but if I should, which ones are the most necessary?" And then I usually tell them that if they really wanted to optimize their health they should also be taking Curcumin, Aged Garlic, and astaxanthin. Anyone can clearly see that these key nutritional supplements when combined with the Mediterranean Diet, provide a valuable defense against chronic illness, as well as an equally powerful tool for the effective reversal of these same illnesses.

Science-based workplace wellness
Healthy at Work has built our entire corporate wellness program on an educational model based on Functional Medicine. Nutrition and other natural strategies are used to create a safer, more effective and less costly approach to keeping employees healthy.

Our new Functional Medicine artificial intelligence platform has helped twelve employers, with over 20,000 employees, to reduce the cost of healthcare costs 12 to 15 percent every year for five years in a row. Nutritional improvements are the primary reason for this success.

Charles K Bens, PhD

Charles K. Bens, PhD is an author, speaker and wellness consultant specializing in the prevention and reversal of chronic disease. He is the founder and president of Healthy @ Work, Inc. a wellness education and consulting company focused on improving the health of employees. The company provides workshops on a wide range of health topics. He has written nine books including Healthy at Work: Your Pocket Guide to Good Health, The Healthy Smoker: How To Quit Smoking By Becoming Healthier First and over 200 articles. Dr. Bens lectures all over the world on organizational change and improvement as well as on wellness and health improvement. And was selected by Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation as the Vail Visiting Professor for 2013.

Visit Dr. Bens' terrific website: