Supplementation Not Substitution

Our health generally doesn’t become a top priority for us until it is threatened. Good health is, unfortunately, taken for granted. For example, three quarters of the American population, when it comes to one of the basic pillars of prevention of illness – exercise – doesn’t do enough. Fifty percent of us exercise inadequately, and twenty-five percent of us do not exercise at all!

Many of us (myself included on occasion) tend to act as if there were substitutes for exercise. After all, I take my Mangosteen and my multi-vitamin everyday, but will they make up for the fact that I didn’t go for a walk or make the time to visit the gym yesterday. Maybe I could just take two multi-vitamins or double my Mangosteen intake? The sad fact is that there is no adequate replacement for exercise, drinking Mangosteen, and taking multi-vitamins, because they are all part of what is called supplementation not substitution.

The volumes of evidence proving conclusively that exercise matters obviously aren’t consulted enough. In fact, as I reflect upon the subject, I have difficulty coming up with a single chronic disease state where exercise is not beneficial. For example, even severe rheumatoid arthritic patients derive benefit from an appropriately guided exercise regimen.

Paradoxically, there are a rare few among us who have become addicted to exercise. I recall a patient of mine in his late thirties who had this problem. He was a rower and a paddler. He had been religiously doing one or the other activity every spare moment he had. When there was no water around, he rowed on a machine. He was seeing me because of chronic shoulder pain.

When the orthopedic surgeon and I examined his MRI, we both agreed that his shoulders showed signs of wear and tear, “just general overuse”, that we could have expected to see in a man twice his age! When he learned of the verdict, he cut down on the paddling, and he actually became depressed. Rather than switch to an alternative exercise regimen, he set out on a quest for some rejuvenating care that would allow him to continue using his shoulders to paddle.

Even in his addicted state, with all the inevitable shoulder pain he suffered daily, my patient enjoyed a significant health advantage over my obese patients who did not exercise at all, but who had no significant health problems as of yet. His future, pain and all, is much brighter than theirs.

Why we should exercise has not been adequately examined in my opinion. I’m convinced, for example, that most of us possess a physical-activity aversion gene. Maybe all we need is some good science, first to identify the gene, and then to discover the means to turn it “off”. Alas, this too, is simply rationalization. More realistically, I could suggest that you find a friend who lives about a mile from your home. Obtain permission to leave your Mangosteen in their refrigerator, and then walk to get it at least once a day. That’s the only way I can imagine that using Mangosteen could replace the regular exercise essential for your optimal health.

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