Notice I didn’t call this post The Laundry List of Foods Americans Need to Stop Eating… that list could take forever! I believe that adding these 5 things to your lifestyle through supplementation can bring about significantly healthful changes in your immune system, your mood, your weight, energy levels and a whole other laundry list of benefits!
Micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals): Americans are starting to get that whole “calorie” thing down pat, which provides us with the essential carbohydrates, fats and proteins we need for energy. Restaurants all over the country offer “healthy calorie” options and many people think they are eating healthy. The truth is that we are still overfed and undernourished. A lot of the food we eat at restaurants is processed and comes from non-organic farms, which kills essential vitamins and minerals. When nature suffers, so do we! The best ways to get these essential micro-nutrients is to either eat locally grown produce from organic farms or provide the body with nutrients directly through supplementation. What to look for: If you can contact the manufacturer of the supplement you decide to take, find out if they know what the absorption rate is. Many advertise a percentage on the bottle, but the truth is that only a fraction of it is absorbed by the body.
Fiber: Let’s face it – fiber is the least sexy topic… ever… and if you can come up with a sexy line for it, I’d love to hear it! Fiber is the non-digestible part of plant food. It performs functions that no other organ can and plays a huge part in our health and well-being. The average person only gets 10-15 grams of fiber per day… and is likely to be carrying 10-15 pounds of… sludge… in their intestinal tract! If you are carrying this… sludge… in the organ that absorbs the nutrients in your food, it is also being reabsorbed into your system. Fiber comes to the rescue by sweeping this up and pushing it out of your digestive tract. Remember: taking all the vitamins and supplements in the world won’t matter if they can’t be absorbed into the body because there is… sludge… in the way! What to Look For: Look for multiple sources of both Soluble Fiber (traps excess sugar, fat and cholesterol) and Insoluble Fiber (speeds the movement of food through the digestive tract). Supplement with fiber drink mixes or bars when necessary.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: The typical American diet now tends to contain 20 times more Omega-6s than Omega-3s. Research on Omega-3s suggest that the brain actually prefers EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids. However, due to the over-consumption of Omega-6s and under-consumption of Omega-3s, our cells are not able to absorb what little Omega-3s we get because Omega-6s block the membranes that allow them in. Healthy doses of EPA and DHA Omega-3s (1,000 to 3,000 mg) have been shown to improve mood, concentration and memory, promote healthy fetal development, decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke, and promote healthy joint mobility. What to Look For: Supplementation of Omega-3s should come from pure, cold-water fish, and then purified, distilled and certified to contain no contaminants.
Probiotics: It is important to remember that biotic means life. While antibiotics certainly have their place in medicine, they also kill a lot of essential life-giving bacteria… not all, but some. There are more microorganisms (flora) in the intestines than there are cells in the whole of the human body! An imbalance of good and bad flora in the intestines can lead to occasional indigestion, constipation, abdominal discomfort and other digestive problems. It can also lead to acne, bad breath, sluggishness and unexplained fatigue. Other culprits of an imbalance in intestinal flora include chlorine, stress and processed sugar/flour. Probiotics can often be found in yogurt (watch out for sugar/calories!), miso soup, kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut. What to Look For: If you decide to supplement your probiotic, look for Stomach-Acid-Resistant strains such as Lactobacillus acidophilus (which targets the small intestine) and Bifidobacterium lactis (which targets the colon). These attach themselves to the intestinal wall to counteract bad flora, but they need fiber to stay alive!
Water: Water is essential to all of our bodily functions because hydrogen and oxygen each play a role in the generation of energy molecules. Have you ever noticed how the directions on every bottle of medicine we’ve ever taken says to take with a full glass of water. It may just be that our body was just crying out for water. Water makes up a large part of many of our organ systems and when we don’t replenish what it eliminates, we unnecessarily suffer in many ways. The recommendation now is to drink half your body weight in ounces (Ex: 150 lb person needs at least 75 oz of water per day). Drink lots of water when taking your supplements, when taking your fiber, when taking your Omega-3s, when taking your probiotics and whatever else you are ingesting into your body… because there is a very good chance that water plays a huge part in the bodily processes that help the functions of these nutrients succeed. You can live without food, but you can’t live without water!
My philosophy on wellness takes a holistic approach in that there isn’t just one way to achieve health and balance, but rather a combination of many lifestyle habits working together to support each other. Our immune system is the same way – there aren’t organs specifically designated for it, however our immunity is a result of all our other systems working together harmoniously! 1 Corinthians 12:26 says (speaking of the human body) If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. The more we learn about the way the human body works, the more we are able to see that our bodies have the ability to heal itself far greater than anyone has ever permitted us to believe. While I haven’t listed everything that’s needed to maintain good health, I’ve at least given you an accessible and affordable head start!