Food vs. Supplements (The Showdown)

Nov 15, 2022

Store shelves are jam-packed with supplements that promise the moon. Amazon can deliver boxes of herbal remedies to your doorstep in 5 hours or less! Got a cold? Imbibed too much over the weekend? Saw an article about a concoction that can speed up your metabolism or help you age in reverse? Yup…there’s a vitamin, a detox, and a miracle working compound available at retailers on every block. But, what’s the real deal with supplements? Let me share my perspective as a functional nutrition practitioner:


Ideally, supplements are indeed meant to “supplement” an already nutritious & diverse diet. But, the reality for many people is a diet severely lacking in nutrients and a digestive system that’s been weakened by chronic stress, calorie restriction, inflammatory foods, and an imbalanced gut. A weak digestive system cannot do the job of turning food into usable fuel for the cells, so the body becomes deficient…which leads to disease.


My goal with every client is help “shore up” the digestive system so that it is robust enough to do the work of assimilating all nutrients the body needs from food. If a client’s lab work shows nutritional deficiencies, I will always suggest sourcing those nutrients from whole foods, however there is certainly a place for high quality supplements. If the client has a digestive system that is in distress, or food allergies/sensitivities, supplementing might be helpful during the healing stages.


Here’s the deal: Supplements cannot replicate the benefits of consuming whole foods. Supplements contain a few isolated vitamins, minerals, or other compounds. A whole food, however, contains hundreds of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals in their natural form, and these constituents work better together than they do in isolation. Science is discovering daily brand new compounds in plants that further enhance the health and wellness of the human body. Real food is where it’s at, ladies!


For example, vitamin C helps the body better absorb iron….so have a C-rich kale salad with your iron-rich grassfed steak!


The combination of of vitamins C & E is more effective at reducing oxidative stress than C or E alone….so grab a handful of C-rich berries with some E-rich pumpkin seeds!


These are fantastic examples of the whole being greater than the sum of its’ parts. On their own, isolated nutrients can only do so much, but when combined with other synergistic players, the results are exponential.


I strongly suggest purchasing organic, grass-fed, wild-caught, and pastured food, whenever possible. Doing so will help lower your overall toxic load, which makes your digestive system function optimally—ensuring that you CAN get those nutrients from the foods you eat.


Supplement with high quality products when needed, but remember: Food is medicine. Eat up and let the healing begin!



Lori Z.