Nutritional Supplementation: An Intelligent Approach for Modern Humans
There are millions of vitamins and nutritional supplements out there these days, and perusing the products at your natural foods store can be both overwhelming, and enticing.
You may be asking though, do I really need supplements?
The short answer is: yes.
While it’s ideal that we get an infusion of awesome nutrients everyday from the healthy food we eat, there are certain challenges that modern humans face that make nutritional supplementation helpful, and even essential, to resolving health issues and living in true wellness.
So what is it about modern life that causes this need for supplements? The answer is threefold and has to do with these factors:
gut health/nutrient absorption
Micronutrient levels in the soil our food is grown in have plummeted over the past century, due to the effects of industrial agriculture. This is even true of organically farmed foods! So even the best quality food available to us has a lower nutritional profile compared to the foods that our great grandparents ate.
Modern diet and lifestyle habits can wreak havoc on gut health, and when the digestive system isn’t working well, it isn’t as good at breaking down our food into nutrients, and then absorbing those nutrients for a healthy body and brain.
Take for example, sugar consumption. Refined white sugar and high fructose corn syrup are substances that the body–in my humble opinion–was not ever designed to be able to process. These processed sweeteners really do a number on the bacterial ecosystem of the gut (the microbiome). They can cause yeast overgrowth and other infections which impair your gut’s ability to break down food and absorb your nutrients from it. Alcohol, which is a form of sugar, has this same effect!
Similarly, antibiotics and other prescription medications (like common antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, as well as the birth control pill) can have a deleterious effect on the microbiome. These meds can wipe out good bacteria in the gut that–among other benefits–help you to break down your food, and then be able to absorb all the good stuff from it, like protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.
(It’s important to know you don’t necessarily have to have distinct digestive symptoms to have this problem with nutrient absorption. Symptoms can show up in different ways like fatigue, sleep issues and anxiety or mood imbalances.)
Stress. This one is the biggee. Our fast paced, industrialized, digitized, and overly scheduled lives bring a stress level that is through the roof, compared to generations before us. This places a greater demand on your body’s nutritional needs. When we are stressed we use up certain nutrients–like magnesium, B vitamins and vitamin C–very rapidly. Supplements are very appropriate when stress levels are causing deficiencies in nutrients in this way.
That being said, here are a few ground rules for what I call intelligent supplementation.
Food first. You should always try to get as much of what your body needs as possible from nutrient dense whole foods. In most cases, absorption will happen best through healthy foods and then the supplements provide an extra boost when needed. Check out the Gut Instinct® Food Template to learn more about nutritious and delicious eating!
Follow the lab results. While there are some supplements that I recommend for virtually all people (like magnesium), I’m happiest when I can work from holistically oriented lab results so that we can be more targeted in our use of supplements. I especially like to run a gastrointestinal panel that looks for gut infection, and an adrenal hormone test to show how stress is acting on your system.
There is no magic bullet. True wellness is a body-mind experience of empowerment, listening to the body, and being a health detective to suss out root causes and find solutions. I call this becoming your own health hero. It is a multi-faceted, dynamic process and while finding your perfect, supportive foods and supplements is part of the focus, it’s important to remember that there is no magic pill that will fix everything. Your wellness journey is more nuanced than that.
And I would love to be a support for you as you become your own health hero!
The Gut Instinct® Method guides you to understand and incorporate the foods, nutritional supplements and mindfulness practices that give rise to a feeling of balance, energy and resiliency in life, so you can go forth and live your dreams.
Book a Discovery Session with me to learn more!
Discovery Sessions are FREE if you book before 9/28/18, so book now.
And now I’d like to know how you feel. What are your questions and thoughts about nutritional supplements? Leave your response in the comments below!