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How to Stop Unknowingly Sabotaging Your Health

How to Stop Unknowingly Sabotaging Your Health

, by Guest Writer, 8 min reading time

Written by Carmela Pengelly. Carmela is a dietary therapist and nutritional therapist, trained in the UK.

She now lives in Perth, Western Australia, where she practices as a nutritionist, specializing in SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), methylation issues, and vegan/vegetarian diets. She also offers consultations outside of Australia, via Skype.

According to US biochemist Dr Bruce Ames, low intake of key nutrients is as damaging to cells as radiation exposure – it is likely to accelerate degenerative diseases of aging and be a major cause of cancer.

His research shows that deficiencies of iron, zinc, B vitamins, and vitamins C, and E cause significant DNA damage. 

Common micronutrient deficiencies are likely to damage DNA by the same mechanism as radiation and many chemicals…Remedying micronutrient deficiencies should lead to a major improvement in health and an increase in longevity at low cost,” says Dr Ames in a 2001 discussion paper.

These are strong words but there is no doubt that good nutrition reduces your risk of many of the most common diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

Aside from that, the right nutrient intake will give you more energy, reduce your risk of coughs, colds and other infections and improve mental capacity and concentration. 

Are You Unknowingly Sabotaging Your Health?

Some food and drinks contain ‘antinutrients’. Antinutrients are substances that stop us from utilising nutrients we consume or cause us to lose nutrients. 

Phosphoric Acid

Soft drinks that contain phosphoric acid can increase your risk of osteoporosis. Not all fizzy drinks contain phosphoric acid. It is mainly added to cola to give it a tart, tangy taste and to prolong its shelf-life.

Too much phosphoric acid upsets the balance of phosphorus to calcium in the body and causes calcium to leach from bones. A large study that looked at the diets of over 2500 men and women, called the Framington Osteoporosis Study, found that regular cola drinkers, particularly women, had a significantly lower bone density than other participants. 

The healthiest option is to stick to soda water and sparkling mineral waters as these only contain carbonic acid.


Too much caffeine is also damaging to bone health - this is another reason why colas are more detrimental than non-caffeinated soft drinks. 

Bone loss from excessive caffeine is exacerbated in women whose calcium intake is low. In a study of a group of post-menopausal women, calcium loss was observed when participants consumed more than 4 ½ shots of coffee a day.

This doesn’t mean to say that you should give up coffee all together. There is lots of evidence to suggest that between 3 and 4 shots of coffee per day protects against cancer.

Phytic Acid

Foods that you think are healthy are not always if they aren’t prepared correctly. Grains and legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils) are a good example of this, due to their phytic acid content.

Phytic acid, exists in many natural foods. It is good for you in small amounts and has anti-cancer properties. However, phytic acid binds to minerals during digestion, blocking absorption of minerals, especially iron, calcium, zinc and manganese. Those that rely heavily on grains and beans in their diet, without preparing them correctly can become deficient in these minerals.

Traditionally, bread took hours, if not days, to prepare and involved a long fermentation process, which breaks down phytic acid and gluten. Modern commercially-produced breads, however, use additives and raising agents to speed up the proving process, which means that phytic acid and gluten content remains high.


Common Medication Pitfalls and How to Correct Them 

What doctors don’t always tell you is that many of the most common medications can deplete or inhibit key nutrients. You can counteract these side effects with supplementation. As a general rule, it’s best to take supplements at least two hours away from any medications you are taking.

Below are some of the main nutrient interactions that can occur:


Cholesterol-lowering drugs, known as statins, are the most prescribed drugs in the UK, with over 37 million prescriptions made every year, according to GP online.

An accepted side-effect of statins is that they inhibit the synthesis of coenzyme Q10 in the body. CoQ10 is an essential component of the body’s energy-making process and is also a potent antioxidant.

You may experience tiredness, muscle pain and muscle weakness if your CoQ10 is depleted. 

Most doctors recommend CoQ10 supplementation if you are on statin therapy.

Proton Pump Inhibitors 

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 blockers reduce stomach acid production and are often used for conditions such as acid reflux (heartburn) or stomach ulcers.

While PPIs are very beneficial when prescribed correctly, the drawback is that they reduce absorption of vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium, iron and B12. 

Long-term use can cause deficiencies and PPIs have been linked with increased risk of bone fractures.

PPIs can also disrupt gut flora balanceso probiotics are useful to takeif you are on medication.

Contraceptive Pill

An astounding number of vitamins and minerals are depleted in women using oral contraceptives. These include:

The consensus among researchers is that adequate supplementation should correct any possible deficiencies and prevent long-term effects.

Eating Healthily Without Blowing Your Budget 

Supplements are important but cannot match the natural synergy of nutrients found in food. You don’t have to spend a fortune on fancy, exotic foods to get the vitamins and minerals you need. There are plenty of ‘ordinary’ but nutrient-dense foods to choose from.


Top 10 Nutrient-Packed Everyday Foods




Cruciferous vegetables e.g broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage

Sulforophane, vitamin C, folate, vitamin K1

Hormone balance, liver, & bone health

Stewed apple (simmer sliced apple & spices in a little water)

Flavanoids, fibre

Anti-inflammatory, gut healing


Antioxidants, essential oils

Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral

Fresh herbs (e.g parsley, coriander)

Vitamin A, C, folate, magnesium, calcium

Detoxifying, antibacterial, antiviral

Tinned sardines

Calcium (from the little bones), Omega 3 fatty acids, Iodine

Brain, bone & joint health, hormone health

Green tea

Antioxidants, theanine

Liver health (detoxification), brain health, weight management


Antioxidants, magnesium

Heart health, energy, immunity


Betaine, vitamin C

Liver health, lowering blood pressure, blood tonic

Nuts & seeds

Magnesium, monounsaturated fatty acids, calcium

Heart health, bone health

Extra-virgin olive oil

Monounsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants

Heart health, immunity, antibacterial, antiviral


Make the most of your health and know your body. Take the time to evaluate which vitamins and nutrients you may be deficient in and act to supplement them in your diet where necessary. Here is a summary of the most common vitamins and minerals you may be deficient in and what you can do to address them:

Core Supplements


How Much (Daily)

Vitamin D

1000 I.U for maintenance (more if you are deficient)


200-300 mg


At least 10 billion CFU

Fish Oil

At least 1 g (more if you suffer joint or heart problems)

B vitamins

At least 1-2 mg for most B vitamins

Vitamin C

At least 200 mg


At least 8 mg


A smart diet and proper supplementation can make all the difference. Learn more about whether you are getting enough by talking to your doctor, and be sure to read more on the supplements you can take to address specific deficiencies in your diet:


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