Food or Supplements? Which is Better?

food-as-medicine supplements Nov 19, 2019

A Food-As-Medicine Lifestyle combines the healing power of food with the synergy of restorative lifestyle habits to empower your health on a daily basis. It creates the foundation for feeling vibrant and living from a place of wellness every single day. That sounds like a great place to be!

In the next few posts, I’ll be sharing some useful and actionable food-as-medicine lifestyle interventions that you can implement right away. So, let’s jump in with this first one:

Use foods before supplements to maximize your health and wellness.

There’s a supplement for that! Yep, I’m sure there is, and I can probably recommend one.

While supplements are great and sometimes needed to replenish significant deficiencies or optimize your health in a specific way, food should be your main, daily source of healing nutrients and disease prevention.

Within a food-as-medicine lifestyle, supplements can certainly have their place, and I use them for my clients quite a bit. There are some nutrients that foods just can’t provide in sufficient quantity. Specific nutrients can be dosed therapeutically to naturally replete deficiencies, enhance genetic variants, prevent illness, and optimize overall health and wellness.

But food has something supplements can’t provide.

Whole foods contain many substances and beneficial chemicals that work together to support your health. Compounds that depend on each other and work synergistically like a championship team to boost immunity, protect your cells, and restore wellness. Ever seen a football team win a game with just the quarterback? No way! He needs the whole offensive line and entire defensive protection to keep putting up the TDs.

When you isolate a supplement, it’s kind of like sending the lone quarterback in to win the game. One nutrient can’t muster the power of the winning synergy that you’ll get from food-based sources.

Take omega-3 fats for example. You can pop a few fish oil capsules every day and probably get what you need. But how about sprinkling these throughout your week:

  • 2 servings of herb-roasted, wild-caught salmon
  • a few handfuls of walnuts
  • some hearty sprinkles of hemp, chia, and flax seeds
  • sardines or anchovies

In addition to a nice supply of naturally-occurring omega-3 fats, these all provide additional protein, phytochemicals, antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and a lot more flavor and enjoyment on your plate than 2 squishy gelcaps. Those added nutrients work with the omega-3s and with each other to enhance absorption and boost the power of what you’re taking in.

Supplements also bring with them a great risk.

More is NOT always better!

Supplements can be toxic in large doses, and you shouldn’t keep taking high, isolated doses of certain nutrients continually. Your body needs a break, and cycling your supplement regimen can help optimize this ebb and flow. You should also check labs periodically to asses the effectiveness of your supplementation so you, along with a qualified practitioner, can adjust your dosage accordingly.

When more of your nutrients come from foods than from a pill, it’s really hard to get up to those toxic levels. Following a food-as-medicine lifestyle provides more sustained, natural quantities of nutrients on the daily. In addition, your body will better absorb and utilize what you’re consuming as you incorporate lifestyle habits that enhance digestion and absorption.

And here’s another thing that I see far too often.

Don’t shop around for the cheapest supplement!

Seek out supplements from companies that require third-party testing, use as few fillers as possible, provide the most absorbable forms of the nutrients, and most importantly contain the exact ingredients that are on the label. Don’t waste your money or jeopardize your health on junky supplements!

My clients have the benefit of purchasing from Fullscript–an online, physician-grade dispensary that provides high-quality supplements from reputable companies. These brands are third-party tested for purity, toxins, byproducts, and provide the highest quality you can find in a bottle. These aren’t brands you’ll find on the grocery or big-box shelves, but you can check them out here:

fullscript logo

Here’s the deal, supplements are great! But you can’t out-supplement a daily intake that lacks a continual dose of food-as-medicine healing nutrients and beneficial lifestyle habits. If you choose to take a supplement, do so under the wisdom of an experienced practitioner, seek out brands that are reputable and highly tested, and make sure you really need to be taking the capsules your popping.

And, instead of seeking a supplement for every need, strive to get more nourishment from the end of your fork and beyond. It’s a lot tastier that way too!


*Never start a supplement, change a medication, or make any other modifications to your health regimen without first consulting with your physician or appropriate health practitioner. 

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