The one supplement you need
Can you guess what the one supplement is?
Read on below to find out how to minimalize your medicine cabinet…and get back to the basics
Less is more is the “new trend” that emerged on the fashion scene last spring (and one that’s here to stay in my book—despite the plaid overcoats, florals and chokers hitting runways)!
I’m all about: Sleek, clean lines. Classy blacks and whites. Chambray. Sneaks. Boyfriend pocket tees. Distressed jeans. Contouring cuts. “The girl next door” look.
Ever since I gutted out my closet last spring, I’ve become a total believer in clearing out the clutter.
Minimalism!!! (with the occasional ruffle or glam flare).
This is a long time coming, considering, growing up I was a fashion diva.
For those who know me now, you probably wouldn’t believe that this girl who LOVES to live in Lululemon yoga pants and Swiftly tops, was once a stiletto-wearing, mini-skirt donning, “I can’t believe she is wearing socks with sandals! Ew!” fashion diva…until I hit college and t-shirts became the new trend.
Minimalism has been a long time coming to say the least.
Today my minimalistic philosophy transfers to multiple other areas of my life—including nutrition.
When it comes to meals, for instance, I am a very happy camper with a simple plate of some sort of meat, veggie, sweet potato and fat—like ghee, coconut butter or avocado (makes everything taste better).
And when it comes to supplements—those “magical” powerhouses of nutrition, I am all about “less is more.”
Often times when I meet with clients, they ask me, “What should I be taking?!”
Vitamin D? Fish oil? Multi-vitamin? Zinc? Vitamin C?
Other instances, clients beg me not to take anything: “I don’t want to get dependent on anything!” they say. “Can’t we just get it all from food anyway?”
And still, others come to me with a laundry list of prescription medications they are taking, telling me they aren’t into the supplement thing (but they are into the medicine thing).
So what’s the consensus?
Should you take supplements? Are they really necessary? And, if so, which ones are really necessary?
Let’s dig into it:
Consider supplements as exactly what it sounds like: a supplement—a booster—to what you are ALREADY eating.
We can only eat so much of everything we need in a day—and there’s some days we don’t get “everything” we need, so enter: Supplements.
While they are most certainly not better than the “real deal”, how many people are eating organ meats, like liver, a couple times per week for ___?
Or eating a wild-caught salmon filet a handful of times per week (especially if you’re not a “fish person”?)
Or getting in at least 9 veggies every day? (How about even 2 or 3?!).
And, even bigger: How many people actually have a healthy gut to digest and absorb the foods they ARE eating? (maybe 1 in 4 people, statistically).
Instead of calling em supplements, let’s just call em “boosters.”
How Do You Know What “Booster” You Need?
- Women’s Health tells you to take more magnesium.
- Dr. Oz tells you to take some Vitamin D.
- Your mom prescribes you a multi-vitamin to get all your missing fruits and veggies.
- Your BFF tells you that you have to take some B-Vitamins to boost your metabolism.
- Your CrossFit coach tells you to take a fish oil and drink protein post-workout.
So what do you take?!
- Gone on kicks of taking your fish oil and Vitamin D every day for a month, then run out, and never re-loaded.
- You bought the Absorbic Acid (Vitamin C) tabs, but they are still sitting in your cabinet.
- Or you think about taking that probiotic starting at you on your counter
But how do you know what you really need? And moreover, if they are really working?
A blood test will tell you right?!
While standard blood work in your doctor’s office CAN be beneficial, the problem with the standard CBC panel is that it was designed to measure your lab values against statistically “normal” (broad) ranges of a particular item.
The problem with relying on these broad ranges is that they are not clinically relevant—(considering that nearly half of “normal” Americans have a chronic disease).
It is more useful to look at optimal ranges. (Optimal ranges are much narrower and are really goal markers for improved health and lower risk).
Unfortunately, most conventional docs don’t base their interpretations of your labs on “optimal ranges”, but instead on diagnostic (broad) ranges because this is how they were trained in medical school.
A better way to assess what you need?
Fortunately, today there are several specialized tests—outside a standard blood panel—that help clinicians assess health risks and measure health status that functional doctors. Tests like:
- Comprehensive stool testing
- Salivary testing
- Toxic Metals test
- Food Immune Reactivity
- Yeast Cultures
- H. Pylori
- Adrenal Profile
- Complete Hormone Panel (Saliva, Urine, Blood)
- Lyme Testing
- SIBO Breath testing
- Nasal Swab
- Dysbiosis Profile
- “Optimal range” blood work
- Heart rate variability
- Clinical assessments: Blood pressure, Dental exam, pupil assessment, and more…
However, before even going down the route of lab testing, one of the FIRST tests you can do for yourself involves this question:
How is your digestion?
Before you even consider what supplements you need—or don’t need. (Or whether or not you have certain deficiencies, you first need to assess your digestion).
After all, if you are NOT absorbing your nutrients in the first place…
Then chances are you will NOT absorb any supplements you take…and chances are that you DO have vitamin and mineral deficiencies (that may be correctable by fixing the gut alone).
- Do you frequently experience gas or bloating?
- Loose stools?
- Skin breakouts?
- Allergies or asthma?
- Achy joints?
- Do you have leaky gut?
Check out this post to hack your own gut health, and consider first getting your gut right before considering supplementation (other than my one recommendation below).
*Need help getting started? Join the 7 Day Lead with Your Gut Healing Program to boost your bod today.
My “Minimalistic” Approach: The One Supplement You Need
Back to that “minimalism thing”…
I am not big on ultimatums (“only”, “all”, “everyone”), if there is one supplement you can stock up on in your cabinet it is….
If you’ve been living under a rock, probiotics are simply “boosters” for a healthier gut—the necessary “precursor” for absorbing any nutrients from your food and other supplements in the first place.
Arm your gut with a punch of “good bacteria” to fight off all the bad buggies in your gut—home to trillions of bacteria!
I recommend 1-2 capsules per day as a means to provide some “steel armor” to your gut. In addition, consider varying up your brand every month.
Probiotics are like snowflakes—no two are alike—meaning they contain hundreds and billions of different strands. Just like if you were to eat scrambled eggs every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner…your body would be missing out on other nutritious sources of protein. The same can be said about the bacteria you feed your gut.
Here are a few of my favorite brands to get you started
- Flora Sport by Thorne
And if a pill is not yo’ thing, at the very least, consider incorporating a little bit of fermented food into your daily diet like:
- Kombucha (Low-sugar)
- Water kefir
- Other fermented veggies
- Fermented yogurt (I love “Coyo”)
Note: Unless of course you have a bacterial overgrowth like Candida or even SIBO…which will exacerbate the issue since you don’t need more bacteria right now).
The Bottom Line
To determine your individual needs, it is suggested you work with a nutritional therapist, functional medicine practitioner or other healthcare provider, trained in helping clients address the roots of disease and imbalance (not just symptoms).