Why Nutritional Supplements Are Key for Vibrant Health
I never use to understand the need for nutritional supplements growing up.
It was not until I was completing my Masters in Environmental Science that my awareness and understanding grew about the devastating health state of our environment, conventional agriculture methods and other environmental factors that my opinion on nutritional supplements changed.
Today we are faced with a nutritional crisis.
We have more access and a greater selection of food choices than ever before, yet, health diseases and illnesses are skyrocketing in North America.
Why is this the case?
1. Soil Depletion
Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, post WWII, conventional agriculture and intensive farming practices, including the heavy use of pesticides (herbicides, insecticides), chemical fertilizers, and tilling of soil have severely impacted the soil food web. This has caused a significant decline in the nutritional content of our food. On top of unsustainable farming practices, acid rain and erosion of topsoil continue to increase on a yearly basis (1).
2. Toxic Load
Each day, we are bombarded with thousands of toxic chemicals (Blog Post: The Silent Toxins in your Life) that create a myriad of adverse health effects in the body, including gastrointestinal issues, toxic overload, stress and chronic disease.
This continuous exposure and intake of toxins build up in the body and impact the body's natural detoxification systems, especially the liver, and its' ability to detoxify the body on a daily basis.
3. Radiation Exposure
Radiation builds up in the body overtime. We are exposed to radiation all the time, from cell phones, computer terminals, x-rays, microwaves (if you still use one), and nuclear technology. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Nutrition Review (2), exposure to radiation in combination with chemical toxins, destroys vitamins A, C, E, K, and some of the B vitamins as well as essential fatty acids.
Modern-day lifestyles evoke physical, mental, and electromagnetic stressors – from eating on the go, rushing, drinking contaminated water, breathing polluted air, not exercising enough, living indoors and consuming socially accepted addicted substances (i.e. caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and nicotine).
All of these stressors increase our metabolic needs, resulting in the body needing much higher levels of vitamins and minerals to support the body's natural detoxification pathways and keep the immune system strong.
5. Seasonal and Geographical Limitations
We only have a certain amount of fresh produce available at any given time of the year. The other “fresh” produce on the market shelves has been picked before it is ripe, transported long distances, stored, gassed, and often sprayed. This results in fresh produce being exposed to a variety of environmental toxins and chemicals from the time it was harvested to when it is being consumed.
6. Refined, Overcooked and Unnatural Foods
The fact is, refined, overcooked and unnatural foods make up the majority of the modern day food supply.
This is the first time in history that human beings have been consuming a diet comprised so heavily of processed, refined, chemically loaded and cooked foods. Our bodies do not thrive off these low to no nutrient foods and neither does our health.
Why is this the case?
These foods contain “negative nutrients” meaning they only provide a caloric intake, which gives the body a feeling of fullness eventually, but is not fuelling the body with nutrients. Instead these foods require nutrients to be metabolized and excreted, which depletes these essential stores within the body.
These very foods also increase hunger and blood sugar, therefore, leading to a crash in energy and brain fog, and in more chronic states, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
7. Biochemical individuality
Each person has different nutritional needs. We all differ in our genetic background, gut microbiome, lifestyle, food preferences, and how efficient our bodies absorb and assimilate nutrients.
For example, if you eat an orange or kiwi and take in some Vitamin C, the level of Vitamin C that gets digested and absorbed is dependent on the state of your gut microbiome. The amount of Vitamin C that you require to be in optimal health is also specific to your body.
On top of that, each orange is different in the level of Vitamin C it could potentially provide depending on the quality of soil it was grown, how it was grown and how it ended up being eaten by you.
Nutritional Supplements provide the optimal nutrient level an individual needs in order to reach and maintain optimal health as well as protect against disease and promote longevity.
The Case for Nutritional Supplments
Nutritional supplementation optimizes your nutrition to help protect your body against toxins and disease, strengthen your immune system, promote longevity and sustain a healthy lifestyle.
So what are they?
Nutritional supplements are the micronutrients, the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, phytonutrients (plant-based), and "superfoods" that serve as building blocks for creating energy, repairing tissue, and making enzymes, hormones and new cells.
It is these micronutrients that maintain the health of the body and all of its biochemical processes.
Although these key micronutrients support your bio-individuality and health, they do not take away from the importance of eating a diet comprised of a lot of clean plant-based foods and high quality fats, as vibrant food is the foundation for vibrant health.
Not all supplements are created equal
The quality of the ingredients used to make the supplement is critical.
Many supplements sold in the stores today are synthetic. Being synthetic, these supplements may be made or processed with petroleum and coal tar derivatives, GMO soy or corn derivatives, or hydrogenated sugars processed with carcinogens including formaldehyde, cyanide and nickel. They also can contain additives, preservatives, and fillers.
As a result, it is beneficial to know how the supplement was made, where the ingredients are sourced, and how clean the supplement is to decrease your exposure to toxins.
The form in which the nutrient is provided to the body is crucial.
The motivation for investing in a supplement is so it can actually be absorbed by the body and better your health. Hence, it should be in the most effective form to optimize the body's ability to utilize the nutrients being provided.
Also, a synergistic and/or whole-food supplement (combination of individual micronutrients) versus an isolated supplement helps to ensure that the vitamins and minerals are in the form and ratio nature created them to be.
The Benefits of a Whole-food Nutrition Supplement
Foods contain dozens of micronutrients, cofactors, antioxidants and phytonutrients that work synergistically (work together) to produce their beneficial effect. There are over 5,000 phytonutrients in foods that help protect the body from disease.
Whole-food nutrition supplements are products derived from natural sources with nutritional benefits to support human health and enhance performance (3). Some examples of functional food supplements include spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass and green powders, which provide a rich source of incredible nutrients, helping to alkalize and nourish the body, decrease inflammation, support fast recovery after physical exercise and fight off disease and anti-aging.
My Top 3 Whole-Food Nutrition Supplements:
1. Vitamineral™ Greens Powder
Vitamineral Green™ (4) is an amazing, nutritionally dense, robust green food powder! It is a 100% raw, plant-based, gluten and yeast free food with no synthetic or isolated nutrients and has no fillers, which is key when choosing a greens powder. It is comprised of a mixture of land and sea vegetables as well as the two blue-green algae (see more below).
- full spectrum of naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, and all the essential amino acids (protein)
- probiotics and digestive enzymes
soluble and insoluble fibers
- Cleanse the body
- Balance blood sugar levels
- Strengthen the immune and circulation systems
- Strengthen major organs, including the liver, kidneys, bones, colon, pancreas, muscles, and brain
Start by mixing 1/2-1 teaspoon of Vitamineral Green™ with water, fresh juices, smoothies or sprinkled it on food. Since this food is highly cleansing for the body it is best to start start with less and work your way up to 1-2 tablespoons over 4 weeks.
Once your body is accustomed to the delicious greens, ENJOY as much of this powerful green food as you want!
>> Check out the link at the bottom of this post for some delicious smoothie recipes. <<
Chlorella is a single-celled, fresh water-grown algae and is an unbelievably powerful detoxifying whole food. The whole plant is used to make nutritional supplements and medicine.
Most of the chlorella available in North America is grown in Japan or Taiwan and is processed and made into tablets and liquid extracts. For tablets, the cell wall of chlorella must be broken down before the body can digest it, so this is important to look for when deciding what product to purchase.
For liquid extracts, they contain "chlorella growth factor," which is a water-soluble extract of chlorella.
- Contains the most directly available chlorophyll per gram than any other plant making it highly alkaline
- Incredible source of protein containing 60% pure, digestible protein (animal protein is only 18-30% and is in a non-digestible form) (5)
- Loaded with vitamins, especially high in B, B12, C & E
- High in minerals, especially iron & calcium
- High is fiber
- Great source of amino acids, folic acid, beta-carotene, lysine, iodine, essential fatty acids, digestive enzymes and polysaccharides
- Increases good bacteria increasing digestion and gut issues
- Cancer prevention
- Reduces radiation side effects
- Decreases inflammation
- Strengthen the immune system
- Increases brain and liver function
- Helps detoxify the body of toxins and heavy metals (6)
- Supports healthy weight loss
- Antibacterial (7)
As with any highly nutritious green food, if your body is not use to it, you should introduce it gradually into your diet allowing time for the body to become adjusted to its healing effects.
Since chlorella helps to eliminate toxins, especially heavy metals, from your body, the optimal time to enjoy chlorella is 30 minutes before or 1 hour after any food, supplements or exercise. This ensures proper digestion and assimilation of the nutrients from your food.
Another favourable time is with probiotics because chlorella is able to help probiotics multiply at four times their normal rate!
Personally, I love to eat the tablets and savour the flavour.
Spirulina, similar to chlorella, is a cultivated blue-green algae. It is a simple one-celled microscopic blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) It gets it name from its spiral DNA-like shape when seen through a microscope, which is the first sign that this food is an amazing for your body. Spirulina has been consumed for thousand of years by indigenous people for its incredible plant source of a complete protein, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, RNA, DNA, and antioxidants.
- 60% protein (8)
- Excellent source of vitamins A K1, K2, B12, manganese, chromium, phytonutrients (9, 10)
- Incredibly rich source of beta-carotene with a full spectrum of 10 carotenoids
- High levels of gamma-linolenic acid, an essential polyunsaturated fatty acid (11)
- Detoxifies heavy metals (12)
- Strengthens immune system and gut health (13, 14, 15)
- Weight loss
- Eliminates candida
- Enhances energy levels
- Supports cellular health
- Cardiovascular, eye and brain health
- Balances blood sugar levels and cravings (16)
If spirulina is new for you, I suggest starting with half a teaspoon and working your way up to 1 tsp-2 tsp or more over a number of weeks.
Spirulina has a very strong and unique flavour, which many people have told me they do not like. If you are one of those people, you can try taking spirulina in a tablet form vs as a powdered form. Personally, I prefer spirulina in its powdered form, but chlorella in tablet form.
If the taste is not on for you, you can also try masking the flavour with a fruit smoothie. Mango goes very well with spirulina. I add spirulina to smoothies, puddings and sprinkling into chia puddings or salads.
Modern farming practices, soil depletion, environmental contamination, modern-day lifestyles, and individual biochemical nutritional needs make including high-quality nutritional and functional food supplements essential for reaching your optimal health goals and maintaining vibrant and sustainable health.
The fact is in today's environmental world, our health cannot rely only on our food to support us nutritionally, no matter how healthy we may eat.
Get my FREE 7 Energizing & Plant-Based Smoothie Guide to start enjoying greening up your health. These nutrient-dense smoothies are delicious and you can add a greens powder or spirulina to any one of these!
Get your copy right now by clicking below!
Breanne Gibson, MSc., DHN, ROHP, RNCP
As a leading holistic nutritionist, lifestyle mentor, and permaculture designer, Breanne empowers high achieving and sustainably-driven leaders and entrepreneurs optimize their health and performance and design a resilient life they love so they can be living their full potential as they share their gifts with the world. Read her inspiring story, “From Peachland girl to military officer to a worldwide permaculture exploration” that lead her to where she is today.