Should you bother supplementing? Plus, the one claim I can't stand
As 2014 rapidly approaches, most of us are ready to make the change, embrace a challenge, and set new goals. Typically weight loss, fitness and health goals. Whilst goals are very important to have, and I am all for them. We need to realise that the only goals worth having are the ones we are passionate about, and are willing to change for. The ones we are willing to put in the effort to achieve once the hype and excitement of the initial changes have worn off. Setting a goal of good health, only to fill your pantry with pills and potions in the hope of quickly fixing years of not-so-healthy habits is not the way to do it.
There is rarely a need to look for supplements, tablets and liquids to fill your diet. Not only are they usually expensive, they are backed by manipulated evidence, minimal low-grade evidence, or worse, none at all. I'm not talking about those supplements medically subscribed - there is a time and place for these under medical supervision e.g. an iron supplement for iron deficiency anaemia. I'm referring to the ones that promise extremely high doses of antioxidants, micronutrients, alkalinity, or ingredients that 'support overall health' and claim to cure anything from brittle nails to cancer.
I am definitely open minded when it comes to new products and treatments to better our health. However, I need to see strong anecdotal evidence and (as soon as possible) regulated, substantial scientific data to back up the claims of a product. If it requires a new diet regime, and a 'special' diet removing processed foods, junk and all drinks other than water, we should all be skeptical. Doing these things alone are already going to give you great benefits, supplements aside.
The most frustrating claim on a supplement or new food item is this: 'supports wellbeing'.
What does 'support wellbeing' even mean?!
Being well is such a complex mixture of what you do with your life. Your life circumstances, eating whole foods, moving your body, sharing laughs and fun times with loved ones, taking time to relax and de-stress, and making the most of your life, doing what you love to do as much as possible.
A ground up powder of an exotic fruit, herb, spice, or algae cannot possibly, and never will, replace or support this network of factors that make a healthy, happy life.
Work on the basics before you add these 'extras'. Save money, confusion, pantry space and reduce your carbon footprint.
- eating a diet high in vegetables, fruit, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, heart healthy oils, (and where desired) gluten-free whole grains and plain, simple dairy products.
- actively making an effort to move your body as much as possible most days (at least 5 days a week).
- incorporating a form of stress relief into your days - reading a book, going for a walk, watching your favourite TV show, having a bath, meditation, yoga etc.
- taking time to just be, and do what you love to do, with those you love.
- drinking adequate water, every day.
- sleeping at least 8 hours a day.
- stimulating your brain and continuing to learn.
- working with health professionals on a regular basis to ensure you are in good health, check ups etc.
If you've got this covered, and I mean, really make an effort to do most of these, 90% of the time... then and only then would I consider supplementation as an option.
Food is so incredibly powerful just as nature already provides it.
My wish for you in 2014 is to get back to basics, make every mouthful count, and for you to live with passion, purpose and your health as a top priority.
Enjoy being you,