1. Multivitamin or a Meal Replacement with a Multivitamin – You may need a multivitamin to meet your basic nutritional needs and to support the metabolic pathways. You can choose a high-potency multivitamin like Clear Essentials and take two capsules twice a day with food. Other recommended brands include Designs for Health, Metagenics or Xymogen. Alternatively, you can select a meal replacement that contains a multivitamin, like Clear Complete with Multivitamin (whey- or vegan-protein-based).
2. Essential Fatty Acids (Plant- or Marine-Based) – Essential fatty acids help preserve muscle and aid insulin sensitivity. They reduce inflammation, promote healthy cholesterol balance and reduce triglycerides and inflammatory markers. Take two capsules of Clear Omega (extra-strength) or four capsules of the product of your choice of marine-sourced EFAs. For plant-based omega-3, I advise Pure Form Omega because it is produced in such a way that it is never exposed to the air, resulting in little to no risk of rancidity. When I was in clinical practice I recommended four capsules at breakfast or one capsule per 40 pounds (18 kilograms) of body weight. I have considered a plant-based option best for women 40 and older, as studies have shown it helps with bone density more than omega-3s sourced from fish.
3. Vitamin D – This vitamin is responsible for supporting your immune system, regulating cellular growth, promoting bone health, and lowering inflammation in your body. It also helps to ensure fat loss success, as studies show that individuals who are low in vitamin D lose less weight, and it is necessary to help build muscle, especially combined with protein, exercise, and your essential fatty-acid supplement. Most doctors commonly recommend 2,000 to 5,000 IU per day.
4. Probiotics – Probiotics re-establish healthy bacterial balance. These days, we are constantly bombarded with commercial messages urging us to fight germs and rid ourselves of bacteria. But in the right places and amounts, bacteria are actually very valuable to our health and wellness. These beneficial bacteria, also called probiotics, are found mostly in our digestive tract. They colonize our system just days after birth, especially when we are breastfed. The maintenance and protection of our healthy bacteria through proper nutrition and, if necessary, supplementation is very important to good health.
Under normal circumstances, friendly bacteria found in our digestive system live with us in symbiotic harmony, but factors such as poor diet and medications such as birth control pills, antibiotics, and corticosteroids can upset this balance and lead to a host of difficulties. We now know these live microorganisms are cancer-protective, immune-enhancing, and anti-inflammatory.
Other documented benefits of probiotics include:
Relief of digestive system upset. All types of digestive symptoms, including diarrhea, adverse reactions to antibiotic therapy, constipation and food poisoning can be improved by probiotics.
They reduce fat storage. Research completed at the Department of Genomic Sciences at the University of Washington found increased fat storage in rats that lacked probiotics. The correct balance of intestinal flora seems to limit fat storage by repressing the expression of a protein called fasting-induced adipocyte factor.
They aid hormonal balance. Bacteria in the digestive tract play a hugely important role in the breakdown of excess estrogen. If you are taking the birth control pill, consider using a probiotic supplement regularly.
They assist with vitamin production and nutrient absorption. Probiotics improve digestive function and assist with the synthesis of several vitamins, including vitamins K, B12, B5 and biotin.
Prevention of yeast infections. If you are subject to recurrent yeast infections, the bacterial balance in your large intestine is likely compromised. Probiotics can prevent infections and yeast overgrowth by blocking harmful bacteria from attaching to intestinal walls and by helping to maintain the appropriate intestinal pH.
They combat bad breath. Eating plain organic yogurt or taking probiotic supplements for six weeks or more can help fight certain chemicals in the mouth that contribute to bad breath and gingivitis.
They cool inflammation. Probiotics are proven to be beneficial for relieving symptoms of inflammation including arthritis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Relief of allergies. Allergy-based symptoms such as eczema, seasonal allergies, asthma, and hives have been found to improve with probiotic supplements. Supplementation during pregnancy and breastfeeding may also prevent these types of symptoms in infants.
Prevention of colds and flus. Daycare- and school-age children who take supplements of acidophilus and bifidus are sick less often. What a plus! When they do come down with diarrhea, colds or flus, the duration of their symptoms is shorter. Supplementing the diet with beneficial bacteria also stimulates immunity in adults by increasing the activity of cells that consume invading organisms and by increasing the production of white blood cells and cytokines, which are produced by immune cells to boost our infectionfighting capability. These probiotic effects strengthen our resistance to bacterial and viral infections and alleviate allergy symptoms. Even those suffering from autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis may benefit from the use of probiotics, especially those options that include bifidus.
They involve the gut microbiome in nutrient absorption, inflammation, oxidative stress, immune function and muscle-building balance. According to a study published in Nutrients (July 2019) entitled “Gut Microbiota, Muscle Mass and Function in Aging: A Focus on Physical Frailty and Sarcopenia,” aging is associated with reduced microbiota biodiversity and overrepresentation of pathogenic bacteria. These phenomena appear to have great relevance for our skeletal muscle mass and function. For this reason, scientists have hypothesized that there may be a “gut-muscle axis,” by which the gut macrobiota influences the onset and progression of age-related physical frailty and sarcopenia. Reduced muscle mass has been associated with changes in the microbiome and reduced fermentative capacity and giving probiotics to people experiencing muscle wasting has been associated with improved muscle mass. More Bifidobacterium might even help to improve your grip strength, thanks to the beneficial bacteria’s ability to influence nutrient absorption, inflammation, oxidative stress, immune function and anabolic balance.
They involve gut microbes in protein digestion. A 2019 review, “Dietary Protein and Gut Microbiota Composition and Function,” published in Current Protein Peptide Science, reported that the gut microbiota mediates the crosstalk between protein metabolism and our immune response. Amino acids can be metabolized into numerous microbial metabolites, which participate in various physiological functions. The source, concentration and amino acid balance of dietary protein are primary contributors to the composition, structure and function of gut microbes. Greater levels of undigested protein lead to an increase in the pathogenic microorganisms associated with a higher risk of metabolic diseases. The key, then, is to maintain the appropriate intake of protein, a healthy microbiome and sufficient levels of hydrochloric acid and pancreatic enzymes to support the breakdown and assimilation of protein and its metabolites. Amino acids influence the gut microbiome. It appears that the gut microbiome is also able to affect protein metabolism, which gives rise to the view that function between the microbiome and protein can proceed in both directions. According to a study published in the 2017 edition of Current Protein Peptide Science entitled “Contributions of the Interaction Between Dietary Protein and Gut Microbiota to Intestinal Health,” it appears that altering one’s dietary protein intake can result in significant changes in microbial metabolites, including short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), ammonia, amines and gases such as hydrogen, sulphide and methane, which are toxins associated with the development of colon cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases. High protein intake with digestive upset, can therefore leave undigested proteins, which may compromise the gut barrier and the immune system, increasing the risk of disease.
In addition to taking a high-potency probiotic, be sure to get your enzymes and hydrochloric acid and make sure you get enough fibre daily. One dose of a 30-billion-per-capsule probiotic supplement, or two 15 billion capsules is commonly recommended clinically. I have found the best brands of probiotics to pick from include Renew Life, Orthomolecular Medicine, Metagenics, Xymogen, Designs for Health or Clear Flora (two capsules of the refrigerated version, or one capsule of the shelf-stable option provided in a box in punch-out foil packs).
5. Fibre Supplement or Green Food – Add one or both as part of your foundation nutritional support if you are short on your fiber or veggie intake. We have a great blog explaining the benefits of fibre. Click here.