There is no doubt about it, supplements can be a useful tool to include in a healthy lifestyle, especially in our high stress modern world. They can be an excellent tool for boosting healing processes and providing your body with extra support when your life circumstance calls for it. Supplementation can even take you from good to exceptional physical and mental performance (when done properly). However, supplementation can lead some down a frustrating and expensive path when done blindly and with misguided reasoning. Before you consider purchasing a supplement, always begin by looking up its efficacy and potential to support and heal your body. Then, take a mindful minute to ask yourself some important questions, answering them openly and honestly:
1. Are you consciously and actively meeting personal nutrition and hydration needs?
2. How do you mitigate stress? Is it effective? Or do you feel regular bouts of energy lulls and dis-ease?
3. Do you feel you generally get optimal sleep quantity and quality?
4. Are you active and moving enough during the day? Are you limber and free of pain?
5. What kinds of stress are you exposing yourself to? Are you exposing yourself to acute, positive, resilience forming stress (eustress) or chronic westernized stress inputs?
Your body is intelligent. It will let you know loud and clear as to whether your nutrition and lifestyle practices aren’t right for you via pain and symptoms. And it will continue sending these signals until it is heard and something is changed. Attempting to silence the body, whether it be with natural supplements or drugs, is generally not addressing the often multi-factorial, underlying issues that lead to body dysfunction. Don't get trapped spending your hard earned money on supplements in an attempt to cut off the body’s feedback loops (pain and symptoms) that are trying to indicate a nutrition or lifestyle change is required. When you do not begin to deal with the underlying nutrition and lifestyle issues that have led to you feeling you need supplementation, the supplementation is not likely going to make a lasting difference anyways. You cannot out-supplement improper nutrition and lifestyle practices.
Ironically, many of the practices I am referring to would likely quash the need for many supplements in the first place. And the real kicker is that many of these practices don’t cost any money!
In my role as a health consultant at a supplement store, I have witnessed a trend of individuals desperately searching for a ‘magic pill’ that will be the natural, easy, quick fix that will heal the dysfunction in their bodies. I witness people begin to panic if they run out of their supplement and the store is out of stock, like if they do not have it for a couple of days their health will begin to deteriorate. I watch financial stress rise as customers get to the till and drop hundreds of dollars every few weeks. I have had individuals come into the store with a product they have been blindly taking, only to ask me what it is for after the fact. I even deal with people who require me to search their history for supplements they have been taking, unable to even name the substance they have been regularly putting in their body!
HOWEVER, these individuals clearly want to make positive changes to their health, which I am very much for! But for many, supplementation use seems to have become a safety net. This is understandable. It feels like you are doing yourself good using ‘natural’ substances to deal with the dysfunction in your body rather than risking the various side effects some pharmaceuticals can produce.
When supplements are used to bypass healthy nutrition and lifestyle practices, it really is not that far off from masking symptoms with pharmaceutical drugs. Again, when you do not begin to deal with the underlying nutrition and lifestyle issues that have led to you feeling you need supplementation, the supplementation is not likely going to make a lasting difference (or any difference).