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Supplementation for Optimal Health
Each and every one of us is responsible for our own health. If we're not aware of this fact, we might not be making conscious, proactive choices. Even if we are aware of it, sometimes we're not sure which choices to make, and there is a lot of conflicting information out there. So where do we begin?
The Path to Optimal Health
Our differing body-types, daily activities, stressors, climates, and psychological and emotional needs affect what we need to be healthy. A good place to start when thinking about health is to focus on principles, such as what's natural, balanced, varied, and whole. By following simple principles when selecting the foods we eat, the exercises we engage in, and the way we relate to people, we can transform our lives. It allows for flexibility, adaptability, and enjoyment on the path to wellness, whereas being strict or rigid with rules and dogma can diminish true health and happiness.
Any health program should include healthy food, ample exercise, proper rest, fresh air and clean water, loving human relationships, and very often nutritional supplements. Natural nutritional supplements are an integral part of a whole-health program, especially in this day and age. If we were able to eat only whole, organic foods, one hundred percent of the time, and were living in an ideal, low-stress environment, we might not need supplementation. But this is not always practical, or even possible. Ironically, with all the commitments and stresses of modern life, there's not much time to meet our basic health needs. Our soils are over-farmed and depleted of nutrients, and many foods on grocery store shelves contain empty calories and have longer shelf lives than we do. Not to mention, constant, high stress depletes our bodies of nutrients. Eventually, our unconscious choices and actions catch up with us in the form of chronic disease, low energy, lack of fulfillment, or worse.
Therefore, supplementation is a good idea to consider. Just like on the side of a soymilk or milk carton that reads "fortified," when we take nutritional supplements we are fortifying ourselves, and we are better able to meet the daily challenges of our day. A generally healthy person could start by taking the following supplements: a multivitamin, an omega-3, a probiotic, and a greens powder. Of course, everyone is unique and it is important to educate ourselves about health, to listen to our intuition, and maybe consult with a healthcare practitioner, but in the end, our health is up to us. We make the final decisions.
When selecting which supplement brands to take think about the cleanliness of the products, i.e., are they free from synthetic chemicals, additives, sweeteners, allergens, and anything else you don't want to put into, and ultimately build your body's cells with. Additionally, natural supplements are more easily recognized, and better absorbed and assimilated into the body.
Some Basic Supplements
A multivitamin/multimineral supplement covers our nutritional bases. If we are deficient in certain nutrients and we don't know it, a multivitamin can fill in the gaps. There are many different multivitamin products available, and one might work better for us than another, but by following basic principles, guessing and checking, consulting with someone who is more experienced than us (and who is a good example of optimal health), and by using our intuition, we can find one that is right for us.
Omega-3 fatty acids have received lots of attention in recent years for being so important for the body. They are essential for brain health, circulatory system health, and more. Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet (SAD) does not have enough of these healthy fats. Wild animal meats are naturally higher in omega-3 than factory farmed ones, and interestingly, grass-fed beef is higher in omega-3 than grain fed beef, which makes sense because cows are supposed to eat grass, not corn.
Fish oils are the best source for supplementation but vegetarians can find omega-3 from plant-based sources as well. With fish oil supplements, it is important to buy ones that are molecularly distilled, and thus free of mercury and other heavy metals. Also, some people are concerned about burping up a fishy taste, but that can be avoided by using fresh, clean fish oil supplements.
Good digestive health is paramount to overall health. The Gastrointestinal (GI) tract has been referred to as the "second brain." It is full of neurotransmitters (those little things that run, regulate, and are the signals between our nervous system and our cells). Poor digestive health means we're not able to get the nutrients that we need. It affects everything from our energy level to our mood.
The GI tract naturally has healthy bacteria that are in a symbiotic relationship with us. It's important to keep this in balance. An example of when imbalance can occur is after we take antibiotics. The good bacteria can be killed off along with the bad. Probiotic supplements contain live, friendly bacteria that help replenish the natural bacterial flora in our intestines. This helps keep the digestive tract functioning properly. It's good to follow the health principle of variety when choosing a probiotic, by selecting one with multiple strains. Higher quality probiotics also have a higher bacteria count, or more CFUs (colony forming units) per capsule. An excellent probiotic is the Fundamental Probiotic, which has 12 different strains and more than 25 billion organisms per capsule at the time of expire, not manufacture (bacteria die off over time).
A Greens Powder
A greens powder supplement is a nice addition to any supplement regimen. It contains nutrient-dense superfoods and wholesome goodness. When mixed in a morning smoothie or with juice and water, a greens powder supplement can give that added boost of nourishment. Greens are also alkalizing, and since most of our diets are overly acidic (from excessive consumption of meats, dairy, refined flour, sugar, and coffee), greens powder can help balance the body's pH. Some people say that greens powders taste like water from a pond (they often do contain seaweed and algae, which are powerful superfoods). However, when mixed with some of your favorite juice they can taste great, and the taste does grow on you. An added benefit is that you'll know you are putting something good in your body, and that is so fulfilling and satisfying.
Taking the First Step
Any movement towards health requires action. We don't improve our lives solely by thinking healthy thoughts. We need to act on those healthy thoughts by choosing the path of health, because it is a choice, and one worth making. We can think all day about taking supplements but it won't do any good until we go out, get them, and start taking them.
The thoughts and statements in this article are based on my personal experience, and on what I've learned in seeking health on my own path to wellness. Your path may be different, but ultimately we are all headed to the same place, one of wholeness and vibrant health. God Bless.
Written by Joshua
Article featured in November 2009 issue of Natural Nutmeg.
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