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More Than Ever, People Are Trusting Herbs And Supplements

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Here's a pleasant and encouraging surprise: the results of a recent survey reveal a change in the tide of public opinion and behaviour toward natural health products and whole food.

Here's a pleasant and encouraging surprise: the results of a recent survey reveal a change in the tide of public opinion and behaviour toward natural health products and whole foods. A few months ago the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) commissioned a survey to determine Canadian consumers' perception, attitudes and opinions of natural health foods and organics, vitamins and minerals, herbals, homeopathics, sports nutrition products and supplements. The survey was designed and conducted by Rotenberg Research and covered a wide cross-section of the Canadian population.
Though it would be too far-fetched for a detailed analysis within this column, a few of the findings are noteworthy. For instance, "over two-thirds of respondents did feel that Canadians in general are not receiving enough nutrients in their food" and "almost one-half felt that natural or organic foods were nutritionally better than regular foods." This is good news! Hopefully the increased awareness will turn into a greater sense of individual responsibility to actively improve on food selection and eating habits.

While attitudes are changing, some still say good health and longevity are linked to our modern health-care services, advancements in medicine and the state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment of modern hospitals. They feel that if more money is raised for research and more new drugs are developed they will be healthier in the long run and eventually reach a ripe old age. As long as health insurance pays for these modern luxuries, they think there is nothing they need to be worried about.

However, I see a few problems with this mentality. For starters, the cost of health care is steadily rising and the burden for taxpayers is becoming unbearable. This system is also somewhat unfair. I don't want to say that we shouldn't share a common cost; on the contrary, we must care for each other and help bear each other's burden. But let me explain.

Our society has developed safety nets that prevent you and me from unexpected suffering when, for instance, we have had an accident, lost our job or suddenly have become sick. The negative side of this system is that the majority of us have unconsciously become so accustomed to the fact that when we get sick, we are assured that doctors and health-care services will take care of us, at no cost. We have been conditioned to ignore looking after our own health, finding out what's good for us, and what makes us sick or keeps us healthy.

The way degenerative diseases are increasing in our civilized society indicates that few of us are making the connection between food intake, lifestyle and sickness. Yet those who do and live an active, healthy life by carefully choosing healthy, fresh, whole foods are also sharing in the burden of rising heath-care costs. In the final analysis, these healthy people are actually paying double. First, they pay into a health-care system that they don't actually use. Second, by choosing natural and organic whole foods, which often are more expensive, and by spending extra money on preventive naturopathic care that keeps them fit and healthy, the money comes out of their own pocket.

It is most gratifying for me to see a growing trend toward natural medicine. Hasn't it been alive's mandate for 27 years to educate consumers in natural health, emphasizing alternatives to pharmaceuticals? We are made only of food and a wide range of nutrients. And when symptoms of sickness show up, we need to realize that somewhere in our body something has gone wrong. A simple headache signals a deficiency of some kind--certainly not a deficiency of Aspirin! For health's sake, let's explore the benefits of whole foods nutrition, herbal medicine and nutritional supplements.

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