You Can’t Supplement Your Way to Health

You know you need to eat better so you take some supplements to make up for what you think your body is lacking. But you know what? You can’t supplement your way to good health. There are lots of reasons for this. Let’s check it out.

Nutrients Often Need a Carrier

If you want your body to be able to use the nutrients that you put into it, you have to eat like an Indian. Or a Chinese person. Indian medicine (ayurveda) and Traditional Chinese medicine use food to keep people healthy. The diet is seasonal, fresh, and makes use of food preparation techniques to assure maximum absorption. For example, all those turmeric capsules you’re taking probably haven’t resulted in a meaningful reduction in inflammation, have they?

Your body will only absorb about 10% of what’s in a turmeric capsule, so it’s fairly useless. Why? Because some nutrients use water as a carrier. Some use oil, fat, or alcohol. Most of us don’t drink oil when we take our supplements, but that’s what turmeric needs. How do you get that? Eat like the Indians eat! Find a recipe that you like. Follow it. Sit back and enjoy the anti-inflammatory benefits. When the oil goes in and how much all matter.

Indian and Chinese recipes are designed to bring out the nutritional values in foods. Lots of Chinese dishes combine sweet and sour to create balance in the body. Spicy food circulates qi. Salty foods get rid of stagnation. Sweetness promotes mood. Sour foods help with digestion. Bitter foods are good for the liver and promotes salivation and appetite. This type of diet promotes variety. The last thing you want is a beige diet where all your food is the same color and has a bland flavor.

Does this mean you should go out and eat Chinese food? No, the Americanized Chinese food isn’t really Chinese food. It’s altered for the American palate. Look for traditional recipes. Indian food is closer to what you find in India, but back off the meat and rice. True Indian food is generally heavier on the vegetables and lighter on sauces, meat, bread, and rice.

Supplements Are Not Bioavailable

Another problem with supplements is that they are not bioavailable. You drop all this calcium (for example) into your system thinking that it will help with your calcium deficiency, but you don’t really see any difference. This could be because the form that you are ingesting isn’t the same thing found in food. A common form of calcium supplement is calcium carbonate.

When’s the last time you ate coral? Yeah, me neither. Calcium carbonate comes from coral beds, rocks, and shells. It’s cheap and only 15- 40% absorbable. The human gut just isn’t designed to digest seashells. I’m not picking on calcium carbonate. Most other supplements perform just as badly – especially if you’re taking a cheap multivitamin.

Supplements Are Not Balanced

You hear all this talk about the need to get a balanced diet. The same is true for supplements. You can’t boost your minerals by taking the one that shows up on your test as being deficient because minerals work together. Calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and Vitamin D all need each other to do their jobs. If you’re missing one, they are all impacted. So, it may appear that you have a calcium deficiency when in fact you have a surplus of bio-unavailable calcium caused by supplementation. So, what you thought was helping was actually making things worse.

If we’re talking about herbal supplements the same can be true. Research isolates things so that they can see what is causing an effect. This leads to manufacturers making things like garlic, blueberry, broccoli, and resveratrol supplements. While they may have some benefit, these things are foods. Nature designed them to be consumed as food. You’re going to get the most bang for your buck by changing your eating habits because you get the other foods that go along with them. Most of us don’t eat garlic in isolation. Most of us don’t eat a bushel of blueberries in one sitting. Supplementation is just not balanced.

Supplement Efficacy is Dosage Dependent

If you look at the studies for supplements, you will see some that say something works. Then you see another that says it doesn’t. Then you might see a third that says this supplement makes things worse. Why? Dosage. Some things really are useful, but most of us tend to think that if a little is good, a lot must be better. So, we overdo it and the thing that was supposed to help us actually makes things worse. Or we have no idea so we take a multivitamin that doesn’t have enough of anything in it to do any good at all.

It’s Not Meant to Be for Maintenance

Some things, like echinacea, Vitamin C, and zinc, are not meant to be used for maintenance. They are to be used when you are sick or have a lowered immune system. Unfortunately, some people take them all the time to ward off illness. Instructions for usage are usually on the label. Be sure to read them so that you don’t over consume something.


Does it sound like I am anti-supplement? I am not. There are some that are beneficial like Vitamin D, probiotics, apple cider vinegar, and essential fatty acids. Others are really beneficial when taken when and how they can help your body. Popping a pill usually isn’t the best strategy for making that happen. Eating well is the best way to get those nutrients in.

A Holistic View of the “Highly Sensitive Person”

highly sensitive people

There is this new mental health diagnosis (it’s not officially recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) going around called the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). I’d like to present a holistic view of the “Highly Sensitive Person” here because I am hearing things about this spread by “experts” that are simply not true and prolong suffering. First, let me explain the symptoms of HSP.

HSPSymptoms of a Highly Sensitive Person

  • you’re more sensitive than the average person to sound, light, smells, and emotions
  • you’re very aware of subtleties in the environment
  • you’re emotionally reactive
  • you can have strong reactions to movies, not eating, not sleeping, and other people’s moods
  • you can be very sensitive to pain
  • making decisions is not easy
  • when overwhelmed by stimulus, you need to take a time out – like spending time in bed, going into a dark room, or finding a place of privacy and refuge
  • food and drinks can have a strong effect on you, like coffee, alcohol or sugar
  • you have a complex, rich inner life
  • you are deeply moved by movies, books, music, or art
  • you’re conscientious
  • you startle easily
  • having a lot to do in a little time is overwhelming
  • you put a lot of effort into avoiding mistakes or forgetting things
  • you make a point of avoiding violence, such as in movies or sporting events
  • you make a point of avoiding overstimulating places like concerts, crowded areas, and rush hour traffic
  • you make a point of avoiding overstimulating people like those who are loud or emotionally wounded
  • if you wait too long to eat, the results can be dramatic for you and those around you
  • you avoid change as it shakes up your life in ways that become overwhelming
  • being observed or watched creates a drop in performance and self-consciousness
  • when you were a child, others saw you as shy or sensitive

highly sensitive peopleMyths about Highly Sensitive People (HPS)

MYTH– HSP is a real thing.

TRUTH– The symptoms of HSP are related to ADD/ADHD, concussion, poor nutrition, heavy metal toxicity, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Autism, poor diet, and central nervous system dysregulation. As with all dis-eases, the basic cause is imbalance and an unhealthy lifestyle. If you rebalance the mind, body, and spirit (in this case, it’s primarily physical unless PTSD is a factor), the symptoms will go away.

MYTH– HSP is genetic.

TRUTH– These symptoms show up in families because of epigenetics. Epigenetics is basically cellular environment. Genes are traits. They create possibilities. The cellular environment is what allows certain genes to express while other genes are suppressed. Identical twins don’t always have the same diseases even though they have the same genes. Lifestyle (diet, exercise, sleep, meditation, social, spirituality, etc) creates cellular environment. If genetics were a certainty, twins would have identical diseases. It’s lifestyle that makes the difference.

If a mother has heavy metal toxicity while pregnant, she passes that toxicity on to her babies. They are born toxic. Sometimes, as with congenital lead toxicity, the effects are irreversible because it impacts development. Other times (as with lead toxicity that comes after childhood) the effects can be reversed by changing the environment. So, a change in lifestyle (detox) can manage or clear up these symptoms. This is why the experts recommend things like getting enough sleep and eating a clean diet.

MYTH– You’re born with HSP.

TRUTH– The symptoms of HSP can occur at any age. A blow to the head can create these symptoms at age 10 or 50. Exposure to toxins at age 15 can create the onset of HSP symptoms. A lifetime of a poor diet can create symptoms at any age. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be born with it.  I am just saying that the symptoms can appear at any time.

MYTH– HSP is a sign of a spiritually evolved person.

TRUTH– Many people prefer to accept these symptoms because they make life more intense. They like feeling alive. They also like the belief that this means they are more spiritual than others. People are holistic creatures. We are grounded in the physical. If your body is not well, you can’t be grounded. You can’t live in the world with competence because you are expending too much energy just trying to stay grounded and manage your stimulus. It’s incredibly taxing to live with that level of stress every day. While this level of sensitivity can make you more aware of spirituality, it’s not a sign of spirituality. It’s a sign of imbalance.

MYTH- HSP is normal.

TRUTH– HSP is common. It impacts somewhere between 10 and 20% of the population. High blood pressure and diabetes are also common, but I doubt anyone would accept them as conditions that don’t require treatment simply because of the high incidence of it in the general population.

highly sensitive peopleHow to Treat HSP

I’ve seen some experts who say that HSP is normal and doesn’t require treatment. It requires understanding and respect. For those of you who find the symptoms unbearable and would like to feel more grounded, there is a way.

  1. Clean up your diet and stay well hydrated. Junk food, sugar, processed food, GMOs have an effect. You really are what you eat. These poisons make your brain and body hurt.
  2. Reduce stimulus producing drinks like those containing caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.
  3. Practice good sleep hygiene to give yourself the best chance to have a great night sleep every night.
  4. If you want to go the medication route, take it as prescribed.
  5. Do some sort of light exercise every day. The body needs to move.
  6. Engage in your spirituality.
  7. Spend face-to-face time with people you love. Social connections are an underestimated part of a healthy life.
  8. Reduce stimulation from the electromagnetic field (microwave, wifi, television, computers, etc).
  9. Get a hair test to find out what your mineral and heavy metal levels are. Then remineralize and detox properly. If your supplementation is not based on your body chemistry, it will only further unbalance you.
  10. If you have a trauma history, treat the trauma. This is a root cause! Coping skills and understanding the problem can take the edge off, but you can’t be a fully functional person if the trauma is still activated.
  11. If you think ADD/ADHD is the problem, do neurofeedback. It resets the brain so that it can function properly.
  12. If you have had a blow to the head, ANY blow to the head – even if it was ten years ago, rule out head trauma. The impact of head trauma can be overcome with neurofeedback. Neurofeedback can also help improve the symptoms of Autism because it is not disease specific. It simply helps the brain to become more functional so that everything the brain control works more efficiently.
  13. If you are simply too overwhelmed to do anything to help yourself, BEMER is a fabulous option. It can help get you to a place where you can begin to help yourself.

If you’re in the Richmond area and you’d like to explore your options and start on a road to a more balanced, less stimulated, less painful life, contact Laura Giles today for an appointment.