It’s 2019! Resolve to sleep more, stress less, increase energy, lower inflammation, improve immunity (and then some) with help from targeted supplements
Eating healthy whole foods is always optimum, but it can be a challenge to get all the right nutrients—in just the right amount—through diet alone. That’s where a supplement comes in. Think of over-the-counter supplements as nutritional insurance, filling in the gaps of your diet and daily routine. “Nutrients are absorbed best in their natural state, from food, but supplements are a great way to ensure your body receives proper nutrition, especially when your diet may be lacking,” says Vanessa Fry, RD, clinical dietitian at Detroit Medical Center’s Harper Bariatric Medicine Institute. “Supplements can support general well-being and they can target specific health concerns.”
Whether it’s stress or a cardiovascular concern, stack the decks with one of these targeted supplements to reap some surprising mind and body benefits all year long. (Check with your doctor, of course, before embarking on a regimen.)
RESOLUTION: Fight inflammation and slow the progress of disease
REACH FOR: Gaia Herbs Golden Milk, a powdered turmeric tonic with black pepper, vanilla and cardamom
REASON WHY: Inflammation is a “driving factor behind a lot of chronic diseases in the body,” says naturopathic physician Mary Bove, ND, director of medical education for Gaia Herbs and author of Herbs for Women’s Health. “Taking turmeric daily will neutralize inflammation and slow down the progress of disease.”
Bonus: Black pepper improves the absorption of turmeric, which contains curcumin, a potent, bright yellow-hued antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. “The process of preparation is also a mindful process to take a moment, to step away from the computer and let your body enjoy it.” gaiaherbs.com
RESOLUTION: Improve immunity and fend off the flu
REACH FOR: New Chapter Elderberry Force
REASON WHY: Ancient Egyptians and Native Americans made the earliest medicines from elderberry (sambucus nigra), a flowering plant with antioxidant, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. “Elderberry can stop the flu virus from reproducing in the cells,” says Dr. Bove. Prevention is worth a pound of cure in this case, but if you find yourself on the cusp of a cold: “Science shows that taking it three times a day for three to five days reduces the duration of the flu.” A good immune defense truly can be the best offense to illness. newchapter.com
RESOLUTION: Focus on eye health and vision protection
REACH FOR: NOW Lutein (25 mg) & Zeaxanthin (5 mg)
REASON WHY: In the overly connected era of digital screens and high-energy visible light (aka blue light), it’s more important than ever to protect your eyes—not only from the sun’s rays, but also from the eye strain-inducing light from fluorescents, flat screens and smartphones. Blue light penetrates the back of the eye (retina), and studies show that too much blue light exposure can damage cells in the retina and cause changes similar to macular degeneration, which can ultimately lead to vision loss.
“Eye health is another area with very good science supporting the use of supplementary nutrients,” says Neil Levin, nutrition education manager for NOW. “The Veterans Lutein Antioxidant Supplementation Trial studies on lutein and the Age-Related Eye Disease Study on multiple antioxidants have shown good benefits.”
Lutein and zeaxanthin are nutrients known as carotenoids—a plant pigment that gives bright color to fruits and veggies and antioxidant power to the human body. In the retina, lutein and zeaxanthin tag-team to absorb damaging light and protect the macula (center of the retina) from oxidative stress, and defend against eye disease. nowfoods.com
RESOLUTION: Get restful sleep
REACH FOR: Organic India Peaceful Sleep, with adaptogens tulsi (holy basil), ashwagandha and gotu kola.
REASON WHY: “Adaptogens help us change the way we metabolize hormones,” says Dr. Bove. “Ashwagandha is known as the ‘sleep maker,’ to interface with cortisol levels and help prep you for sleep,” explains Dr. Bove. Both gotu kola and holy basil (revered as a sacred plant and “queen of herbs”) are widely used in India to soothe a myriad of mind and body ailments. Three adaptogens may be better than one when it comes to calming the mind and paving the way for restful sleep. organicindiaUSA.com
RESOLUTION: Lower high blood pressure
REACH FOR: Gaia Herbs Hawthorn Supreme
REASON WHY: Hawthorn is a plant with bushy green leaves, white flowers and red berries—all packed with heart-helping medicinal qualities. When blood pressure is elevated, blood vessels constrict and don’t dilate naturally. “Hawthorn can help optimize the amount of blood pumped out of the heart during contractions, widen the blood vessels and increase the transmission of nerve signals,” explains Dr. Bove. It also helps counteract any inflammation in the arterial walls. One caveat: Hawthorn can interact with heart medications (like digoxin), so consult a doctor first. gaiaherbs.com
RESOLUTION: Stress Less
REACH FOR: NOW Rhodiola, an adaptogenic herb
REASON WHY: Stress can throw everything off-kilter and make you feel foggy, moody, anxious, exhausted, you name it, but most worrisome: The long-term response to stress is disease. That’s why experts say it’s imperative to manage how we handle the rollercoaster of life before stress becomes chronic. “Adaptogens contain compounds that interface with our chemistry and adrenal system to help us adapt to stress and protect the body from the effects of long-term stress,” says Dr. Bove.
Rhodiola is a flowering plant with a centuries-long history as a medicinal plant favored by the ancient Greeks and Ayurvedic practitioners to bring body and mind into balance. A study published in the Nordic Journal of Psychiatry in 2007 showed that patients with mild-to-moderate depression who took rhodiola extract reported fewer symptoms of depression than those who took a placebo. “Clinical evidence is proving what we know through tradition,” says Dr. Bove. “Now we have the proper science to validate what our ancestors used.” nowfoods.com
RESOLUTION: Lower cholesterol and get heart healthier
REACH FOR: Reserveage Bergamot Cholesterol Support
REASON WHY: Bergamot juice has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic propertiesthanks to its good-for-you chemical compounds called flavonoid polyphenols. The best part? Scientific studies show that certain polyphenols work like statin drugs to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering cholesterol.
“Everyone is different, but the research suggests that bergamot has efficacy in reducing LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides,” says Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH (AHG), professor of nutraceutical science at Huntington University of Health Sciences and product formulator for Reserveage. Clinical trials have shown that a 1,000 mg daily dose of bergamot extract can impact cholesterol levels for the better within 12 weeks. Bruno says studies also show it works in tandem with prescribed statin drugs. reserveage.com