Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Supplements 101

"Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine."
Ezekiel 47:12

The Council of Responsible Nutrition estimates that 70% of Americans take some form of vitamin, typically multivitamins, at least occasionally. Do you fall into this 70%? It's not a surprise if you do. According to the Great Physician's RX for Health & Wellness, every major health agency from the American Medical Association to the American Dietetic Association recommends that you at least take a multivitamin on a daily basis.

But with all the myriad of choices available, how do you know which one to choose? Which one is best? Most of us know the feeling of having glow in the dark urine and wondering if we're throwing money down the drain. Don't worry. With some simple background information, you'll be well informed as to how to select the supplements that are most effective and work the best for you and your family, giving you optimal health. (When coupled with healthy eating God's way, of course.)

As a sidenote, before we go on, I must clarify that taking supplements, even the best ones, can in no way replace following God's way of healthy living and eating. You can take the best supplements available, but if you basically follow the standard American diet (aptly coined SAD) and you are stressed out everyday, don't exercise or get proper sleep, you can't expect your supplements to make up for that. Many people eat whatever they want and justify it by taking supplements. It doesn't work that way. They are named supplements for a reason- they're just meant to supplement your healthy diet and lifestyle. There are many cogs in the wheel of optimal health, and you can't follow one but ignore the others, expecting great results.

That being said, supplements are a powerful tool in the arsenal of optimal health, when combined with all of the other aspects of God's health plan, namely proper nutrition.

So how do you know which ones to buy? Easy. It all comes down to how they are manufactured. It's important to understand that not all supplements are created equally. Here's how they differ: (According to the Encyclopedia of Natural Healing and taken from p. 77 of GPRX for Health & Wellness)
  1. Natural. The nutrients are derived from vegetable, mineral, or animal sources with little or no processing. Examples would be cod liver oil, bee pollen, yeast, garlic, kelp, and minerals in their natural form.
  2. Natural source. Although nutrients come from vegetable, mineral, or animal sources, the product undergoes processing. Examples would be extracting vitamins A and D from fish liver oil; vitamin E from soy oil; lecithin from soybeans; and digestive enzymes, protein powders, and amino acids from various natural sources.
  3. Nature identical or bio-identical. These are laboratory-manufactured nutrients identical in molecular structure and activity in the human body to natural nutrients. These nutrients are manufactured because the cost or difficulty of extracting the same nutrients from all-natural sources would be prohibitively expensive. Examples of nature-identical nutrients include certain B vitamins.
  4. Synthetic. These laboratory-manufactured nutrients aren't identical, molecularly speaking, to the natural nutrient. For instance, when you find inexpensive vitamin E or vitamin C on the shelf, you can rest assured that it was produced synthetically. It is estimated that 50% of the supplements available on the market today are manufactured synthetically.
  5. Whole food or food-grown. It's possible to produce nutritional supplements with raw materials, for example, by adding vitamins and minerals to a living probiotic culture. This form of supplement is the most costly to produce and is highly bioavailable, meaning it's highly usable and available to the body.
So where does that leave you? Go to your medicine cabinet (or wherever you keep them) and get your bottles of vitamins and supplements. If your bottle labels say,"contains no filler ingredients, no artifical ingredients, and no preservatives," and it is a "whole food multivitamin/mineral product," then you are in the clear. If not, tune in tomorrow to find out how to buy the right kind of supplements. We'll start with the one most common to Americans- the multivitamin.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Why Do You Need Supplements?

If you're like 89% of Americans, (according to a John Hopkins study) chances are you are not getting the amount of fruits and vegetables that your body needs to thrive. I know, I know. When I say the word "fruits and vegetables" your mind sends you images of cauliflower and broccoli, spinach and maybe an orange. Somehow fruit leathers sound so much more appealing than the real thing.

But, the fact of the matter is, God created our bodies to need fresh fruits and vegetables. And, if you fall into the 89% category, then you're not getting enough of them. And even if you just so happen to be eating 9-10 servings of fruits and veggies every day (4-5 being leafy greens, I might add) and you're not eating them organic, then you're giving your body a deluge of pesticides along with your meal. Remember, pesticides=toxins=setup for disease.

And even if you do eat 100% organic, like we do, your food is still not teeming with the probiotics, enzymes and macronutrients that your great- grandparent's food was. When most of the country's soil is sterilized by pesticides and herbicides, it's basically impossible for even organic soil to be totally unaffected.

So what does this all mean for you? It means that your body is craving the micro and macronutrients that God intended your food to give you. It's longing for the probiotics that will keep your gut balanced and well, which by the way, keeps your body disease free. (more on that later) It means that unless you're eating 9-10 servings of fruits and vegetables from the most pristine soil on earth, your body needs supplements.

Now, this isn't in place of the Maker's Diet in any way, but it is a very important part. It's like giving your body the right kind of fuel, the fuel it needs to live with optimal health. Does it make sense to you to give your body the diesel fuel it needs, or to keep giving it 87 fuel and hoping it all works out ok?

Most things in life don't just "work out okay" when we leave them untended. Our health is no different, and especially the health of our children. In the next few posts, we'll discover how to augment a healthy, Maker's Diet lifestyle with the right supplements- a combination producing true diesel fuel.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Part 3- Reducing Toxins in Your Life

Remember toxins?

toxic: -adjective- acting as or having the effect of a poison; poisonous

It makes sense to limit the amount of these bad guys in your life, right? Remember that if they are in your life, they are in your body, which leads to disease. And if they're in your life, they're in your children's lives too.

Here are recommendations from the editors at Organic Style magazine. (Taken from p.175 of GPRX for Health)
  1. Eat lean meats. Consuming leaner meats is a good idea since fats in meat act as chemical magnets for toxins in the environment. I recommend consuming grass-fed or pastured beef or bison (as well as other healthy meat) since these meats are naturally leaner and contain larger concentrations of nutrients and healthy fats.
  2. Stick with organic produce when possible. Organic Style magazine quoted a study of children who ate only organic produce, and they had one sixth the level of pesticides in their bodies, compared to those who consumed conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.
  3. Avoid certain types of fish and shellfish to lower your exposure to mercury. Canned tuna is a known culprit of mercury, and its consumption should be limited to two cans per week, unless you're pregnant or nursing, in which case it should be limited to one or less. Swordfish and mackerel should be limited in consumption as well. Shellfish should always be avoided, as it is an unclean meat and contains a whole host of toxins.
  4. Use a water filter. Don't ever drink your unfiltered tap water! With all the chlorine swirling in today's tap water, a filter for drinking and showering/bathing is a must.
  5. Air out your dry cleaned clothes before bringing them into your home. Around 80 percent of the dry cleaners in the US use perchloroethylene, or perc, which does a wonderful job cleaning clothes but is a nasty chemical that has been linked to liver and kidney damage, and cancer. Airing out your dry-cleaned clothes before bringing them indoors will dramatically reducine your exposure to this toxin. Or better yet, find a local dry cleaners who cleans without the use of nasty chemicals.
  6. Vacuum often, using a machine with a high efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA) because contaminants often cling to household dust. These filters remove 99.97 percent of particles with a diameter greater than 0.3 microns.
  7. Steer clear of carpets and furniture treated with stain repellants, and get rid of chemical- laced household cleaners. Use only natural cleaning products in your home. Most natural food stores carry them, or you can search online for them.
In future posts, we'll go into more specifics on how to actually live out these recommendations. Remember that every step you can take will greatly benefit your body and all those in your home! I dare you to choose at least one of these and start today!