Day 12. Supplements
Why Supplements are an Important Part of Overall Health
Fruits and vegetables are healthy, nutrient-rich foods. However, eating a diet rich in these and other nutritious foods doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re getting all of the nutrition you need. New research shows that the foods grown today contain fewer of the nutrients they did a generation ago, leaving millions of people lacking the basic building blocks of a healthy body. If your goal is to improve your overall health, scientists and doctors agree that supplements are essential.
What’s Happening to Our Food Supply?
100 years ago, the world’s population was 1.6 billion. Today it’s well over four times that number. As the population grows, so does the demand for food. Unfortunately, the land available for growing food hasn’t gotten any bigger. As we try to get more and more food out of the same area of land, it starts to put stress on the environment. That stress leads to less nutrition in our food.
A 2004 study, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, examined data from the US Department of Agriculture to find differences in fruits and vegetables from 1950 and 1999. Their results showed that the amount of six important nutrients - protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin B2, and vitamin C - declined in 43 foods over those five decades.1
The carrot you eat today simply does not have the same amount of vitamins as the carrot your grandfather ate. You would have to eat eight oranges today to get the same amount of Vitamin A as your grandmother would have. Our food just isn’t going as far as it used to.
1. Davis, DR., Epp. MD., & Riordan HD. (2004). Changes in USDA food composition data for 43 garden crops, 1950 to 1999. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23(6), 669-682. https://www.ncbi.nlm. nih.gov/pubmed/15637215
Are You Getting What You Need?
While all of this in no way means that fruits and vegetables are unhealthy or that you shouldn’t eat them, it does mean that there may be gaps in the nutrition you’re getting. Many Americans today are lacking in one or more of the nutrients they need to function at their best. There are four reasons why this may be so:
1. We rely on processed, factory-made foods that simply don’t have the nutrition necessary to be healthy.
2. Our ancestors lived on wild foods that contained high levels of essential fats, minerals, and vitamins. The foods we buy in a grocery store just don’t compare.
3. Our environment is filled with environmental toxins. Our lifestyles keep us from getting enough sunlight and burden us with chronic stress. All of these factors increase our need for
4. As we discussed above, the fruits, vegetables, and animals we eat don’t have as many nutrients as they used to.
Not only is our food becoming less and less nutrient dense, there are some nutrients that are difficult or nearly impossible to get from food alone. A standout example of this is Vitamin D, an important vitamin that is extremely difficult to get enough of without spending an unhealthy amount of time in the sun. Niacin can help reduce your risk of heart disease, but it can be difficult to get adequate amounts from food alone. If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, it can be extremely hard to eat enough iron, vitamin B12, taurine, and omega-3 fatty acids. Even if we were eating the same foods as our grandparents, there would still be gaps in our diet.
Why Supplements Can Help
Nutrient deficiencies can lead to issues that get in they way of your health and your life. Symptoms like fatigue and muscle cramps are often caused by deficiencies in certain vitamins. Similarly, a lack of nutrition can lead to weight gain and diabetes. It may seem counter-intuitive, but obesity and malnutrition often go hand in hand. Finding a way to make up for the lack of nutrition in our food supply can help relieve these issues and leave you healthier, leaner, and more energetic.
Finding balance in the foods you eat and supplementing with science-backed supplements can help your metabolism function as it should. Daily multivitamins make sure you have enough of the vital nutrients your body needs to operate at its best. Certain fiber supplements can also help slow down the speed at which your body absorbs sugar, helping to better control blood sugar. Fiber supplements can also help to reduce cholesterol, blood sugar, and triglycerides - without the need for dangerous drugs or drastic changes in your diet.
Which Supplements are Right for You?
We encourage you to embrace the benefits of science-based supplements during your GetFit21 challenge. This doesn’t mean we’re asking you to take 20 different pills a day. What it does mean is thoughtfully examining the different supplements that are supported by an ever growing body of research. One, two, or all of the following supplements may be right for you:
• Daily Multivitamin: A once daily multivitamin fills in nutritional gaps in your daily diet. A 2011 study also found that people who take multivitamins that contain certain minerals (magnesium, copper, potassium, and selenium) are more likely to absorb more minerals from the food they eat. That’s a lot of impact from a single pill! Unicity’s Complete has many of the recommended daily vitamins as well. Check the nutrition label of Complete to see how many recommended daily allowances are met by taking your protein shake.
• Fish Oil Supplement: Your body needs omega-3 fatty acids, but it can be difficult to get enough in our modern diet. Fish oil supplements fill in that gap. If you don’t get enough omega-3, you have a higher risk of serious cardiovascular issues, so this is one nutrient you don’t want to miss.
• Fiber Supplement: Fiber supplements, like Unicity Balance, help to lower a food’s glycemic index if taken 10-15 minutes before you eat. This helps control the rate at which sugar enters your bloodstream, reducing insulin spikes. If you’re interested in better controlling your blood sugar, a fiber supplement may be right for you.
• Protein Supplement: Supplementing your diet with additional protein, including what you do every morning when you drink your Complete breakfast, saves you time and money, and may even help you reach your health and wellness goals more efficiently. A 2006 study found a connection between improved body composition and protein supplements, when paired with resistance training. Protein supplements like Unicity Complete are also high quality and extremely accessible, making it easy to improve your diet while you’re on the go.
Do you want to fill in the nutritional gaps in your diet, and make the most of the foods you eat?
Are you ready to see the difference that supplementing your diet can make?
We hope so, because that’s exactly what we’re challenging you to do!
The Challenge: Add a science backed supplement to your diet every day for the remainder of your 21 day challenge.
Your Next Steps
1. Determine Which Supplement or Supplements are Right for You:
Look over the supplements available directly from Unicity, and decide which ones would best improve your current diet and lifestyle.
2. Check in With Your Doctor: Are you worried you may have a vitamin deficiency? Your doctor can provide clarification and blood tests that will help you better understand your current level of nutrition. Talk to them for more guidance.
3. Keep Track of How You Feel: Tired? Achy? Hungry? Plagued by blood sugar spikes? Keep track of your symptoms day by day. See how they change with the addition of supplements to determine what’s working best for you.
4. Check in with Your Coach and Challenge Team: You’re surrounded by a group of people who are also experiencing the positive change that supplements can provide. Check in to hear more about what’s working best for them, and share your own experiences. The more you share, the more everyone can benefit!