Get Your Money's Worth from Supplements
Ever notice that it can be difficult to tell whether or not a supplement is working for you? Are you concerned that you're not getting your money's worth? In this article, I'll cover why supplements are important, why certain supplements may not be effective, and how to find the right supplements for you that actually show benefit.
The Nutrition Conundrum
Most of us are well aware that the quality of our food has been in decline for decades. The industrialization of agriculture has led to poorer soils, pollution of water sources, genetically modified organisms, and so on. In food production, the "convenience" of processed foods has stripped nutrition out so much that these edible items can barely be classified as actual food.
It has become more imperative than ever that we seek out true nutrition if we are to live longer and happier lives. Indeed, you are what you eat. How healthy you are is directly connected to that which you consume.
Food isn't just energy; food is information.
Several years back (5 years ago, to be exact) I didn't know any of this. I wasn't engaged in the nutrition realm the way I am today, although I knew that eating healthy was imperative. I had just learned about the microbiome, but wasn't taking it seriously. I had attempted to go vegan out of encouragement from a neighbor, but my cravings for dairy were strong. I was exercising a lot, but found that I was still "lazy" and leaned more and more on grabbing pre-made deli food from my local grocery store. I was only focusing on getting macronutrients and feeling full.
However, I found that my performance in exercising was steadily decreasing, and I was feeling tired more often than not. Several months later I began to learn about supplements and superfoods. I began to really listen to the information of food, and life took a major turn towards vibrancy and tangible wellness.
But what if you are doing everything right, but still feel tired? Or have a chronic condition that isn't going away? What then? You could have a genetic factor that isn't allowing your body to assimilate the nutrition properly. However, if there is no genetic factor standing in your way, then you may be ready for a lifestyle shift.
So let's dig in.
I want to stress that getting your vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients through whole-foods is the best way to go. (Superfoods are in general whole-food supplements.) The nutrients that you want are way more bioavailable to your body through something called the Entourage Effect.
Find your vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients within whole plants as much as you can. These will be much more beneficial to you than those that are processed in a laboratory with chemicals and turned into isolates.
It may also be in your best interest to avoid supplements that are derived from corn and/or soy. For example, ascorbic acid parades around as Vitamin C. Ascorbic acid is derived from corn, and when it goes into your body, your cells do not readily recognize its "Vitamin C" content and disregard it. It basically has no benefit to your health and you end up flushing it out in your waste!
This leads me to my next topic...
When Supplements Don't Work
Sometimes supplements don't seem to work. It may feel as though nothing is happening at all. There can be a couple factors happening here:
- You may have too many irritants in your system for it to acknowledge the support.
- The supplement simply isn't a good fit for your body.
- It's a low-quality or fake supplement.
- The supplement you are taking could have way more fillers than actual nutrition, like maltodextrin.
Let's look at removing irritants, and I'll start with aggravating food first.
Food is more than just calories and macronutrients. It also contains its own genetic material, its own microbiome, and anything else that humans may have added, such as varying amounts of pesticides or hormones (if not organic). All of these factors are data that, once you've consumed them, communicate with every cell in your body.
What you eat does one of the following:
- Empowers your cells to keep up healthy regeneration,
- Is neutral, or
- Irritates and weakens your cells which can lead to illness or severe heath conditions.
Many people radically underestimate how much of what they eat falls into the category of Irritants. These Irritants are blocking your cells' ability to take in good nutrition and perform well in your favor.
Top 7 Irritants to Reduce:
- Look out for non-organic products that could contain hormones, pesticides, herbicides, or may be GMO. Non-organic products have the high possibility of introducing toxins, poisons, and unnatural genetic material into your system.
- Refined flours can have an inflammatory effect throughout your body.
- Gluten is rough on digestion. Gluten has the ability to erode the internal lining of your intestines, making it more difficult to absorb vital nutrients. Those who are sensitive to gluten (and you may be if you feel worse after eating it) may also notice some associated discomfort or outright pain.
- Sugar, in all of its many forms---especially when it is an isolated fructose---is inflammatory. Please avoid taking supplements that contain sugar. Especially if you are taking a supplement to reduce inflammation---sugar counters the benefits you're looking for!
- Alcohol. I recommend avoiding alcohol completely. But if you aren't fully leaving alcohol out of your routine, at least be an "Alcohol Minimalist." Keep it to 1 drink or less. Just because alcohol is legal, doesn't mean it's good for you.
- Dairy. Not everyone is sensitive to dairy, but for a lot of people it can be a source of discomfort and produce undesirable results with digestion and inflammation.
- And last but certainly not least, if you know that you have any sensitivities or allergies to a food, don't eat it!
Foods aren't the only aggravating factor that can block nutrition absorption.
Other irritants can include:
- Air pollution and fumes
- Poor water quality
- Excessive stress
- Lack of hydration
- Excessive electromagnetic toxicity
- Exposure to a poor media diet (too much news, music with hateful lyrics, movies that leave you depressed)
- Lack of gratitude in your life
Some of these irritants are very tangible, and some are less so. Remember that you are a whole being: body, mind, and soul. The quality of what you expose yourself to, whether it's food or people, affects every level of your being.
An Upside Surprise
You may find that you only need to remove irritants to see drastic improvements in how you feel and perform. A supplement may turn out to be superfluous.
Find the Right Supplement for You
Not every supplement is a good fit. Like people, we don't necessarily get along with everyone. And just like people, how you feel towards a certain supplement can change with time or in different circumstances.
Now how you find the right supplement can take many different forms.
~ You may have a Functional MD, Naturopathic Doctor, or healer who you trust. If they are concerned with your whole body, and not just looking at you through the eyes of "reductionist science", then they may have some good leads on which supplements can fill in the gaps of your diet.
~ Some people use Applied Kinesiology AKA "Muscle Testing" as a way to determine if a supplement is necessary for them or not. You can do it with the help of a professional healer, a friend, or do it on yourself.
~ Your sense of smell and taste can be excellent aids in determining what you need. You have these senses so that you can physically understand what is a "yes" and what is a "no." When you take a small sample of a supplement, it's more about embodiment over intellect. Do you notice your body finding balance, grounding, or a much needed lift when taking a certain supplement? Or does the supplement turn you off in every way through the wisdom of your nose and tastebuds?
Get Smart about the Information You Feed Yourself
As Sayer Ji puts it, "Food = Software, Body = Hardware." When we have a great operating system, our overall functioning improves dramatically.
Consider longevity. If you feed information to your cells that tells them to shut down or operate at the bare minimum, the chances that those cells will last very long is low. Their power to regenerate healthily is also minimal. They're getting a poor "program" to download, so they're going to act accordingly.
Whereas, if the data from food and supplements is clean and optimized for success (meaning, it's organic and from well-cultivated, whole food sources), then chances of your cells performing energetically and with youthfulness increases.
Some things to keep in mind when grocery shopping:
- Continue to look for organic vegetables and fruits in your grocery store.
- Buy locally grown products as frequently as possible. This definitely includes going to your local farmer's market.
- Get in the habit of reading ingredient lists first before anything else on the label. The amount of ingredients usually determines their order in the product.
- Inform yourself on where your food comes from.
- What are the values of the farm or the company who is supplying your sustenance? (Be wary of companies who green wash in order to look ethical when they really aren't.)
The human body is complex. Your physical status is inherently connected to your thoughts. Your thoughts are tied to emotions and back to your physical body. We are meant to understand this interweaving union, and how we feed our cells is crucial to our whole mind-body connection.
How we eat determines our quality of life in this present moment. Food also sets up the "coding" for how our cells will carry on in the future. The "old science" said that our genetics are key to knowing we'll get certain hereditary diseases. New research (since the year 2000) shows us that what is in our gut---our microbiome---is more likely than genes to determine how sick or well we may be.
So get smart. Make the connection between food and your well-being. And cheers to your ever-growing awareness! Spread the word.