Food vs. Supplements: Where to Spend Your Money

There are SO many supplements and companies out there, toting fantastical health claims; it’s easy to want all of them, or be so overwhelmed and disillusioned and want none of them! What should you spend your money on? I’ll give you a breakdown, so you don’t go broke trying to figure it out!

First off, what qualifies me as an expert on this topic (other than my training!) is not that I live in a state of wellness all the time. I sometimes feel like crap, get down in the dumps, and wear myself out. What qualifies me as an expert is that I DO NOT STAY THERE. I am constantly and consistently recalibrating, realigning, reassessing. I notice when something is off or missing and I seek to bring things into harmony. I base my supplement recommendations on my ever expanding knowledge as well as my personal healing experience, and the results I notice in my family as we experiment and learn how to best care for ourselves. Our lives and our health are not static and can’t be until we are dead! We evolve and grow, and our needs change as we do. Much like with faith, relationships, and fitness, the world often pulls me away from my wellness core; and as with anything worth doing, it takes our desire and attention to continuously come back to the thrive zone, where we reap the benefits of our effort!

Here are my top 2 supplement picks:

1. Probiotics

Every human MUST have a high quality probiotic supplement, unless you eat traditionally fermented food (read: salt brine, NOT vinegar!) or dirt (lots of good bacteria in dirt!) at every single meal. Why is this so important? Please understand: your body is only about 10% human cells, and 90% bacteria!  There must be a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria. Over half of your immune system resides in your gut, and communicates with every other system in your body, including your brain directly! This is a big deal! Harmful bacteria feeds on sugar, and if their population grows larger than the helpful bacteria, you cannot be well. There’s a reason why your stomach/gut is called your core. Think of it like the sun: the power center from which all rays shine forth. Nothing else in your body can function properly if good guys (who are fed by the nutrients in vegetables) are overpowered by bad guys (who thrive in a stressful, processed, sugar world). MUST HAVE PROBIOTICS!

Side note/tangent to your sun-like core: did you ever notice how our bodies are a mirror image of the world around us? All living things have a functional, miraculous design. Our cardiovascular system looks like the branches of a tree, and our lungs branch out into air sacs that look like leaves. Trees are the lungs of the earth. Hug one today! We are perfectly and functionally designed, and our bodies can only be sick if they are missing an important nutrient or unable to manage added substances. Balancing the environment in your gut - your core - is the number one most impactful thing you can do for your health, especially for chronic disease and mental health issues!

I recommend:

  • Natren brand Healthy Start System
  • Fermented foods, found at your local health food store. Look for the ingredients to be vegetables and salt brine (no vinegar! Sauerkraut from the grocery store won’t have healthy bacteria). I like the Wild Brine brand. One bite can provide TRILLIONS of beneficial bacteria – far more than you can get in a supplement.

2. High quality fish oil

ALL disease begins many years before its diagnosis as inflammation. Disease manifests differently in different people, hence the many different names and expressions of disease, but it all starts with inflammation. It’s your body’s first line of defense, but too much of this good thing, is very bad. The most impactful way we influence our body’s level of inflammation is through our diet, so unless you are eating a completely anti-inflammatory diet of whole, fresh foods, with no processed foods or factory meats, I believe a good fish oil is imperative. Here again, there’s a balance of good guys and bad guys. Fat is absolutely necessary for our health, brain function, and fat regulation (yeah… those “fat-free” foods? RUN. Fast and far away, unless you want to GAIN weight!). Omega-6 fats are found in vegetable oils, shortening (please, eat butter!), peanuts, potato and tortilla chips, cracker-type snack foods, processed meats…. Most of what you find at the grocery store. Omega-3 fats are found in fish, sprouted beans, and even some vegetables like spinach, cabbage, and squash. Your body needs BOTH of these fats – Omega 6 turns ON inflammation, and Omega 3 turns it OFF. See where this is going? If the balance of Omega 6 containing foods is higher in your diet than Omega 3s, disease starts here. Fish oil is a great way to get the anti-inflammatory benefits of Omega 3 fats.

This is where you want to spend the money on a reputable company who tests and purifies their fish oil and posts those test results. Otherwise, you risk mercury toxicity and rancidity. Fish oil supplements should never taste fishy or give you gross burps or anything of the sort.

I recommend:

  • Dr. Sears’  Zone Omega Rx fish oil

 The Runners-Up:

  • Glutamine: Axe Naturals Leaky Gut Support
  • Vitamin D: Biotics Research brand Bio-D-Mulsion Forte
  • Magnesium: Can-Prev brand Magnesium Bis-glycinate

I've heard it said (perhaps by myself!) that we never stay the same - anything we eat or do either contributes to health or to disease. You get to choose! Hopefully this gives you a starting point to navigate the biggest bang for your buck!