It can feel like a new wellness trend crops up every day. Influencers tout the benefits of gummy supplements and multivitamin subscription services while sharing videos of them eating globs of Irish sea moss and sipping on mushroom coffee. Somehow, they make all of this look glamorous. But will incorporating supplements into your lifestyle actually improve your health?
Yes! The truth is that you can’t get everything your body needs to perform optimally from your diet alone. Modern produce is less nutrient dense and exposed to far more toxins than food once was. Plus, most of us spend more time indoors and in front of screens than previous generations. All of this leads to more stress, less sleep, and a bunch of burnt out bodily systems.
An even better question is which supplements should you personally incorporate into your own wellness routine? The internet is jam-packed with supplement suggestions from all kinds of questionable sources. However, there are a few current trends that may actually be worth following.
Stress, Sleep, & Cognitive Health Support
If you’ve been looking for ways to reduce stress and combat the mental aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re not alone. In the past few years, many of our regular routines have been disrupted. Some people tried to use screen time as a way to wind down, just to find out that it only made their anxiety worse. Unfortunately, worrisome thoughts often crop up right when your head hits the pillow so it’s no surprise that getting quality sleep has also become a challenge for many.
The Bigger Problem
Too much stress and not enough sleep can lead to HPA axis dysfunction, mood swings, poor immune function, metabolic disruption, and a stressed cardiovascular system. More and more people are feeling these effects and realizing how much peaceful rest, or the lack thereof, impacts their overall well-being. Although most of us know that experts recommend an average of eight hours sleep per night, studies show over one third of Americans are getting less than seven. Research has also shown a strong relationship between electronic screen use, which is consistently on the rise, and lower-quality sleep. So, if you’re feeling fatigued and foggy, the time to act is now, before any long-term detrimental effects to your health set in.
One Solution Option
As much as you may want to find more peace, it’s easier said than done. Stressors will always pop up, and while our bodies have systems that are designed to deal with this, everyone can certainly benefit from some supplemental support considering the intensity of modern triggers. Ashwagandha is perfect for this.
This non-toxic herb has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries in parts of southeast Asia and Africa. Over the past few years, its popularity as a supplement has grown in the United States. This is because it helps to combat a lot of the issues discussed above, by managing stress, aiding sleep, and supporting overall cognitive health. One study found that ashwagandha root taken daily over a two-month period resulted in a 25% reduction in cortisol, also known as the stress hormone.
Ashwagandha often comes in a powdered form that can be added to drinks, but it also works just as well in a pill form, which makes regular consumption a little more convenient. One such supplement is Cortisol Manager Integrative Therapeutics, which is formulated with not only ashwagandha, but L-theanine, phosphatidylserine, magnolia, and Epimedium as well. This combination helps to promote relaxation, alleviate fatigue, and support healthy cortisol levels. This is key as cortisol is often seen as the bridge between stress and its health consequences. By balancing cortisol levels, this supplement both reduces stress and supports a restful night’s sleep without diminishing daytime alertness.
Joint, Bone, & Connective Tissue Support
Another societal shift that people are looking to offset with supplements is our increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Our bodies were impacted by the pandemic at least as much as our minds. With many of us sheltering in place and working from home, activity levels dropped dramatically, leading to weight gain and joint stiffness, just to name a few side effects. Now that the world has been reopened for a while, many of us are stepping up our routines in an effort to achieve optimal fitness and feel as healthy and lively as possible.
The Bigger Problem
It’s one thing to want to tone up or drop a few pounds, but inactivity can cause serious problems. Leading a sedentary lifestyle is commonly associated with degenerative arthritis, including the most common type, osteoarthritis. The older you are, the more intense the results of inactivity will feel since your mobility and recovery are already slowing down naturally.
One Solution Option
In this case, the problem is also the solution. You see, as we age, our bodies begin producing less collagen. After we reach 20-years-old, we produce about 1% less collagen in the skin each year. Collagen is a fibrous protein in the body that provides structure for connective tissue, bone, muscle, skin, hair, and nails. Because collagen gives tendons and ligaments their toughness and skin its suppleness, as production slows the aging process speeds up.
Thankfully, you can take oral collagen supplements to support what is already naturally occurring in your body. These supplements are trendy for good reason as they are the top choice when it comes to improving joint function, supporting bone health, and reducing associated pain. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that collagen counteracts some visible effects of aging as well, like wrinkles and sagging. In fact, multiple studies have shown collagen supplements are effective in both improving osteoarthritis symptoms and improving skin moisture, elasticity, and hydration.
Collagen can be taken both on its own or blended with other supplements in a variety of ways. One fun way to incorporate it into your routine is by purchasing a flavored powder that you can mix into your favorite hot or cold beverage, such as RootFix Collagen Peptides, which comes in both chocolate and vanilla. RootFix Collagen Peptides are rich in the amino acids glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and alanine which all help support the collagen synthesis in our bodies that strengthens and preserves our joints and skin. Taking this oral supplement regularly can aid you on your journey to increase physical activity while decreasing joint pain, on top of its many other benefits.
Honorable Mention: Hydration Support
As you add more movement in your daily life, staying hydrated is extremely important. It can help you stay energized when exercising and increase stamina so you can work out for longer periods of time without feeling rundown. However, a lot of people don’t love drinking plain water and would rather consume a flavored beverage. The main problem with that is all the added sugar that comes along with sodas, juices, and even energy and sports drinks.
The Bigger Problem
Whether you’re an athlete, gym enthusiast, or just someone seeking overall wellness, consuming fluids is absolutely key. Dehydration can lead to serious health-related consequences for anybody. The good news for those who struggle with staying motivated to drink enough in a day is that plain water is actually not the most effective way to hydrate.
One Solution Option
In order for fluids to actually hydrate our cells, they need to be absorbed with the help of electrolyte minerals. These minerals help water to be absorbed through the epithelial cells of the small intestine. Electrolytes are essential for proper bodily function.
There are many electrolytes, but the three that are most important for hydration are sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Sodium attracts water into the bloodstream, replenishing loss caused by sweating. Potassium activates enzymes needed for energy, metabolism, and repair. Magnesium helps with making proteins and prevents muscle cramps and spasms. Plus, all electrolytes provide a great many benefits to the human body beyond hydration.
Unfortunately, electrolytes can become imbalanced, leading to high or low levels that disrupt normal bodily functions and can lead to life-threatening complications. This is why you may want to supplement the electrolytes we get from our food and fluids, especially if you’re a particularly active person. Studies suggest that the intake of electrolyte water is more effective than the intake of regular water in improving exercise and recovery abilities.
However, athletes aren’t the only people who benefit from electrolyte supplements. If you’re looking to make changes to your lifestyle to optimize your well-being, this is a convenient and accessible way to stay healthily hydrated. Instead of chugging large amounts of water daily, you can incorporate electrolytes in the form of tablets, liquids, or powders. One excellent electrolyte drink mix option is LMNT because it has no sugar, gluten, fillers, or artificial ingredients and it is AIP, Paleo, and Keto friendly. It also gets bonus points for coming in delicious flavors like orange, citrus, and raspberry!
Finally, it’s important to consider the fact that, just like with anything in functional medicine, the best approach to incorporating any new supplements into your life is a personalized one that’s tailored to your specific needs. The truth is that the supplement industry is not well regulated and there is a huge disparity in quality from one comparable option to the next. That’s why it was important to us that every supplement in the RootFix store be made from the purest natural ingredients.
Along with shopping at the RootFix store for your supplements, we also recommend working with a functional medicine practitioner simultaneously. They can help to identify which nutrients you specifically are lacking. Don’t just take a guess at which supplements you should add to your cart. Instead, start by reviewing our Adaptation Programs page and scheduling a free discovery call so you can talk this through with a professional who listens and cares. Taking appropriate, high-quality, clean supplements will give your body the support it needs for vibrant health. You might be surprised by just how quickly you feel the improvements!
About the Author: Dr. Seth Osgood is a Doctor of Nursing Practice, Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM) Certified Practitioner. Dr. Osgood received his post-graduate training in Functional Medicine through the IFM and from working with Dr. Amy Myers. He has helped people from around the world improve their health utilizing a Functional Medicine approach.