Whether it’s through modern or natural medicine, health has exploded into a huge multi-billion dollar industry. Part of it is good, and part of it is bad. The bad side of it has to due with how confusing it can be.
One day someone praises the benefits of one supplement, only to denounce it the next. There’s no telling if something is the cure or the poison. When treating any sort of problem, the modality remains the same- take this supplement, or, take this prescription. Both camps of allopathic and functional medicine are guilty of doing this! And they’re not going after the root cause as they aim for treating the symptom. Here’s the truth- there’s never one big answer. Our body is so complex that the treatment itself cannot be so easily underestimated.
To make matters worse is this new wave of voices claiming to offer relief. It comes from what I refer to as influencer marketing- people on social media selling a specific product supplement. (You’ll know them when they use a “#ad” in their descriptions.) And unfortunately, many of these people lack the education to be giving out the proper advice to their audience. Lines can so easily be crossed, so I urge you to be cautious. In a nutshell, there’s a lot of noise when it comes to health. There’s a lot of contradicting information, sales, and misinformation floating around, and it just makes things all the more confusing.
That’s why I wanted to go over supplements in today’s episode, and give you some general information about them. Keep in mind that I am not a doctor; so don’t take any of this as my way of treating you. It’s simply my way of educating you in the hopes that you’re be more informed and capable of shifting through the confusing BS that’s out there.
Set Your Base First
So starting off, how long does it take for you to know when a supplement is working? The reality is this: The answer is not so simple.
Whether or not you can feel if a supplement works depends on your connection to your body: your intuition. For many of us, this connection is severed by layers of imbalances, from diet to hormones and stress and the symptoms that follow them. So unless you start to peel back and address these layers, you won’t have a good enough gauge to tell whether or not a supplement is actually working.
The way to reconnect with your body and develop your intuition involves creating what I like to call a baseline. This is your foundation for overall health. Before you even consider supplementation, get this set up first and clean house. That includes:
#1 eliminating processed sugars from your diet. Immediately. (I suggest substituting with plant stevia, honey, monk fruit, maple syrup, or coconut sugar.)
#2 includes ditching soda. All of them. Yes, diet soda counts.
#3 is getting rid of extra carbohydrates- like pastries and bagels-, especially in the morning. Unless you’re about to do an intense workout, you don’t need the extra spike in carbs in the morning that’ll send you spiraling down a mess of intense cravings throughout the day.
#4 is to eat your veggies! Recently, Chris Kresser was debating a vegan cardiologist on the Joe Rogan show, and what was interesting was his statement that they both were on the same side. That no matter your diet (or dogma), you should be plant based. Plant based doesn’t mean you don’t eat meat; you just eat a TON of plants.
And finally #5 is learning to become what I refer to as metabolically flexible, where you have the ability to properly use carbs and fats and proteins. Don’t just pick a side of either or, when you have the choice of going high fat, low carb or low fat, high carb.
All of these things I teach in my 21-day EmFit Challenge. If you’re still on the fence, are confused, or are mentally blocked from the idea of using supplements, then I also suggest you look into my mindset program called Don’t Over Think It. This is a more personable program, with deeper one-on-one information from yours truly.
So without further ado, let’s get onto supplements, and my thoughts and recommendations for each one.
When I don’t take any of these supplements, I personally notice a difference. If my sleep, recovery or moods get thrown off, I can tell it’s likely because I’d forgotten to take them.
Why… We no longer live like our ancestors did. Even if you’re stark naked outside, there are certain parts of the world that don’t get the right amount of sunshine at the right time to enable us to have enough Vitamin D.
Signs You May Need It… Depression, mood issues, exhaustion, trouble falling asleep, circadian rhythm irregularities, and lower pack pain (in some cases)
My Recommendation: Vitamin D3. I especially like ones that pair D3 with a fat (coconut oil). If you’re already taking D3 and your levels are still low look into taking it with Vitamin K2. K2 increases absorption, and when paired with D3, will help to improve brain function, increase happy hormones like serotonin, and relieve depression.
Why…Sleep, moods, recovery, brain function- all of these are very important, and rely on getting enough magnesium!
Signs You May Need It… Headaches, cramps, moodiness, trouble falling asleep, not dreaming when you sleep, not really feeling well rested after waking up
My Recommendation: 200 mg of a bio-available form of magnesium, such as magnesium glycinate, taurate, or malate (the latter two are capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier). Avoid laxative forms like citrate and oxide.
Why…In today’s world, most people are getting too much of a type of omega fat called omega-6, which in excessive amounts causes inflammation in our body. The average ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is about 20:1. To reverse this effect, we need to increase our omega-3 intake, and bring that ratio to a 5:1. Five omega-6’s for every one omega-3. While diet is definitely a right step in that direction, it’s not so easy to get enough omega-3 consistently. This is where fish oil comes in.
Signs You May Need It… Dry skin, poor recovery from workouts, aches and pains, systemic inflammation
My Recommendation: A high quality fish oil. Take it with a meal to activate digestive enzymes and ensure it’s properly absorbed. If you’re burping up fish oil, you’re either consuming a low quality supplement or are struggling with digesting fats (if that’s the case, you’ll need to address liver and gallbladder function).
Why… Many of us are actually deficient in zinc, because our body goes through it very quickly whenever we’re under a lot of stress. Not to mention the fact that our soil today is very low in minerals, so the plants we eat today don’t nutritionally meet up to the plants from almost decades ago.
Signs You May Need It… Skin issues, poor immunity, and lacking a craving for vegetables
These supplements are meant to target a specific issue, or provide additional benefits. Remember that establishing a base comes first before any sort of supplementation. Once you’ve got that set, then you can build upon it with the essentials and these additional choices if need be.
These are especially important for women! But please do not confuse them with products that claim to help you lose weight or gain insane amounts of energy.
*Liver Support (Liver Capsules, Targeted Support, and Glutathione):
There are several signs that your liver is need of some extra love:
Feeling hung-over or getting headaches very quickly after drinking, waking up feeling hot after 3 AM, insomnia, methylation or detox issues, trouble getting through sickness, and elevated liver enzymes.
Don’t ignore any of these! Our liver is so important for our health, and does a lot for our body, from detoxification to balancing blood sugar.
Liver Capsules- Vital Proteins sells a good quality liver supplement. If you’re like me and don’t like the taste of organ meats, this is a great alternative. As a food source, liver contains B-Vitamins and Vitamin A, both of which help to address stress related to our liver and pancreas. With the capsules, you get all the benefits without the gag.
Targeted Support- To help support and stimulate liver function, take a look at consuming beets, dandelion root, burdock root, and broccoli sprouts/broccoli sprout powder. Biotics Research sells Beta-TCP, a liver/gallbladder-supporting supplement that contains beets and helps with digesting fats.
Glutathione- This is my number one liver support supplement, hands down. My go-to is Super OxiCell, which is a glutathione-based cream that you apply on top of your skin. It’s an awesome alternative for oral supplementation, since it bypasses the process of having to go through your liver in order to enter your bloodstream.
If you’re someone who struggles with methylation, do not pass this one up. (If you want more information on methylation and glutathione, go to podcast #68 with Alex Swanson!)
Athletic Performance & Body Composition Changes:
For those of you looking to improve athletic performance or body composition, here are my top recommendations!
When it comes to the source, find what works best for you. My body for instance doesn’t react well to whey protein. Even though plant based proteins are an alternative, they lack the biological value (BV) of whey, and in order to match it, you’ll have to consume even more of it to make a difference. That’s why I go for something like beef protein isolate, which is the perfect in-between of being a high quality, valuable source of protein without the undesirable side effects I normally get from whey. Now, if you can tolerate whey, by all means have it. But if you’re dealing with skin issues, bloating, or dairy allergies, then consider an alternative like beef isolate.
My Recommendation: I’m a fan of the protein powder sold by my partner, Equip Foods (especially their vanilla flavor, which I add to my post-workout shakes.)
*Pre-Workout: If you can find a good quality pre-workout, then go for it. I look for branch chained amino acids (specifically, leucine) and ingredients that can cross the blood-brain barrier. If you’re training fasted, trying to cut sugar (especially before a workout), or need a bit of a mental boost, then branch chain amino acids are awesome. That’s because your muscles already know how to use them! So give those a try.
*MCT’s (medium chain triglycerides): On the subject of training fasted (or intermittent fasting in general), MCT’s are yet another supplement worth looking into. It’s easier to absorb compared to coconut oil, since it bypasses digestion and converts into ketones very quickly. I’d suggest going very small (1-2 teaspoons) when starting out, as too much can cause loose stools and nausea. And we don’t want that- if you are experiencing those side effects, it could also imply that your digestion cannot handle fat very well, or that you need to support your liver and gallbladder (go back and read up on liver support; ox bile is another supplement that can help with fat digestion). Otherwise, a couple of teaspoons a day in coffee or tea is great for getting used to intermittent fasting and being fat-adapted, since it won’t crash your body and create a stress response.
Not Necessary… But Really Helpful
High quality ingredients mean a higher price. These supplements are not necessary- but if you’re willing to experiment, then have at it, and have fun.
*Adaptogens: All of these help your body to adapt to stress. They include Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Ginseng, Tulsi (holy basil), Lion’s Mane, Chaga, Cordyceps, and Reishi. One of my favorite ways to consume them is by taking an adaptogenic herbal “coffee”.
My Recommendation: I actually have two favorites. First is the Daily Stress Support spray by Herb Pharm (which comes in a curated box for adrenal health from my program The Body Awareness Project), and second are the adaptogenic mushroom elixirs by Four Sigmatic. If you’re struggling with brain or stress issues, then do look into these; they’re REALLY powerful.
*Flower Essences & Essential Oils: Aside from smelling really nice, I used to think none of these actually worked. As it turns out, their strength lies in helping us to balance our mental state of mind. It’s so common for us these days to feel overwhelmed and drowned in a world of stress and anxiety and noise. This starts to affect our energy, making us feel “heavy” or burdened with things we can’t always explain. Luckily though, there are ways to cope with this. Flower Essences and Essential Oils tap into our mindset, and help us to deal with all of these issues.
My Recommendations: With flower essences, my personal favorites are Let Go and Relaxation. As for essential oils, I like Vibrant Blue, Parasympathic, Be Here Now, Palo Santo, and Frankincense. (All of these can be found on my website.)
*CBD Oil: Not to be confused with THC from marijuana, Hemp-derived CBD Oil is an incredibly beneficial supplement to take for a variety of reasons. Pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety- these are just some of the benefits. It’s a very calming substance, perfect when dealing with adrenal dysfunction or everyday stress (including that from intense exercise). (Check out podcast #53 with the Paleo Boss Lady for more info on CBD and the BAM Van!)
Check out Ned for my favorite CBDs.
*Turmero: Another superb herb to have in your arsenal. Turmero is primarily known for its anti-inflammatory effects, but it’s also great for chronic pain, exercise performance, skin, brain fog, cognition, and depression. It may even help with delaying the aging process! There’s so much that turmeric can do that it’s anything but a one-trick pony.
My Recommendation: Turmeric is a big part of my daily routine; I’ll often use it in drinks or foods in order to taste it. Why? Because tasting turmeric is actually the most effective way to reap the benefits; up to six times more according to studies! Most supermarkets sell turmeric in the spice sections, but you can also buy the root. Turmeric is great for brewing into a tea.
If you’ve made it this far, congrats! Seriously, a huge round of thank you. This was a very extensive list to go through, and I’m so glad you made it through.
To recap, start with building a good base with a diet rich in tons of veggies and gut-supporting foods like bone broth and ferments. After that, you can build upon it with foundational supplements like Vitamin D3, Magnesium, and Zinc. And from there, you can experiment around with specific things like extra support for your liver with glutathione or herbs and adaptogens. If you’re really active, then tinker around with pre-workout or protein powder if necessary.
I hope this helps and as always, feel free to email my team with questions.
Your Meathead Hippie,
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