I have gotten asked this question a lot over the years, so I figured I would take the time to write down my reasoning behind my supplementation strategy.
First of all, let’s touch on the obvious question. Our ancestors never needed supplements. Why do we even need supplementation?
Top Reasons You Should Consider Supplementation
1.Modern soils are more depleted of nutrients: Our ancestors had a harder physical life and much lesser comforts than us, but they had access to organic and wild plants. They got nutrients from the soil just like animals do. The soils weren’t over-farmed back then. Now with modern agricultural practices, the soils are over-farmed which reduces their mineral, vitamin and nutrient content.
2. Pesticides and pollutants reduce effectiveness of nutrients: Our ancestors ate fruits, grains and vegetables off pristine land. Nowadays we have to deal with the widespread use of pesticides such as glyphosate. Even if you eat organic foods, glyphosate is in our water and gets into our bodies even in small amounts and causes oxidative stress. To mount a defense against oxidative stress, our body has to use the minerals and vitamins to detox and protect our body. Same goes for pollution from cars, cigarette smoke and more.
3. Food handling and storage practices reduce nutrient content: Our ancestors ate local food when it was in season. In the off season, they would switch to eating what was available on the land around them. But nowadays, we have access to the same foods around the year because of foods being imported from all over the world or good food preservation techniques. Unfortunately, research has shown that the longer food sits around on a ship, truck, grocery store or your fridge – the fewer nutrition components it has. That is the reason to eat local, fresh produce when possible.
So these are some of the main reasons why you should consider supplementing. Let’s turn our attention to my top 5 supplements for health.
Faraz’s top 5 supplements for general health
1. Vitamin D3/K2: Research suggests that up to 70% of people may be deficient in vitamin D. It is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because your body can use sunlight to create vitamin D. It helps regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorus – leading to strong bones and teeth. It is also important for normal immune system – which is extremely important to fight off viruses such as COVID. It also helps prevent heart disease, reduces your chances of developing the flu or multiple sclerosis. It helps prevent depression. It helps lower your blood pressure and reduce risk of diabetes. I could keep going. Finally, always take K2 with your D3 supplement as it directs the calcium to the bones and keeps it away from your soft tissue such as heart, kidneys and arteries.
2. Ashwagandha: Normally this would be a little lower on my list, but I have raised this because of the high levels of stress we are undergoing thanks to COVID and the lockdowns. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen used in India for thousands for years to reduce stress. It has been shown to reduce cortisol levels. As you may recall, cortisol is the stress hormone. When cortisol levels go up, it leads to a lot of negative effects in your body including higher blood glucose levels and increased fat storage. Ashwagandha also helps reduce stress and anxiety in your body.
3. Curcumin: As you get older, the slow chronic inflammation goes up in your body. Inflammation is also known as “InflammAging” because it causes you to age faster. Scientists believe that chronic, low-grade inflammation may be behind almost every disease in your body. Curcumin is a compound found in the Indian spice turmeric. It has high anti-inflammatory properties. It’s anti-inflammatory action is so high that it can match some of the anti-inflammatory actions of drugs, but without the side effects.
4. Astaxanthin: If you live in a modern city, your body gets pummeled with oxidative stress everyday. Oxidative stress is caused by air and water pollution, pesticides in foods, chemicals in bath and beauty products, smoke, excess alcohol. The oxidative stress causes free radicals that damage the cells of your body, causing harm to proteins, fat cells and even DNA. A high quality anti-oxidant can help your body neutralize the free radicals. Astaxanthin is made from a natural algae and boasts of strong anti-oxidant properties. What I love about astaxanthin is that is helps your body create more of its own anti-oxidants.
5. High DHA Fish/Krill oil: In modern diets, we get an overabundance of Omega-6 and 9 fatty acids and less of Omega-3 fatty acids. Research has shown that a good concentration of Omega 3:6 ratio is 1:2 or even 1:4. But because of the prevalence of seed oils rich in omega-6, many people are consuming an omega 3:6 ratio of 1:20. Research has shown that high levels of omega 6 and 9 (when compared to omega 3) cause inflammation in our body. Hence it is important to either eat small, fatty fish or supplement with a clean form of fish or krill oil.
How Often I Take These Supplements
This is another question I get often. I take my supplements 5-days on and take the weekend off generally. This is to help my body out but give it a break on the weekends. Another reason I do this is because I don’t want my body to become dependent on these nutrients. Giving it a break helps it create what it needs on it’s own and balance my needs.
In addition, I try to get out in nature, practice grounding and get plenty of sunlight on the weekends.
So there you go – those are my top 5 health supplements.
Yes – I have left out supplements such as B-vitamins, probiotics and prebiotics, magnesium and some of others from this list. Those will be the topic of another post!
To learn my top supplements for anti-aging, check out my interview with Dr. Sandra Kaufmann here.