Living Paleo means putting real food first, just like the cave men did, in your Paleo diet plan. But the modern world presents some real nutritional challenges, and sometimes supplementation — for a short period of time — can be a good idea to help restore balance in your body.
To get your supplements in the purest possible form, buy the highest quality you can afford from health professionals or a reputable natural health store. Be sure to scan labels for artificial colors, flavorings, and added sugar so you don't sabotage your good intentions.
Omega fats are one of the most critical factors in nutrition today. They're vital to improving your health and slowing the aging process, but most people are severely depleted of omega-3s.
Omega-3 supplementation is important in the prevention of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, obesity, eczema, learning problems, and many other lifestyle ailments. As omega-3 supplements reduce inflammation in the body, most people immediately feel more energy and brighter skin. They also have more comfortable bowel movements and can think more clearly.
Imagine a 25-foot long tube lined with trillions of cells. That's your intestine, and it houses 95 percent of the total number of cells in your body. That's also where almost three-quarters of your immune system is housed.
The bacteria that live within the walls of your intestinal tract are critical to your overall health. When you have an abundance of friendly bacteria, there's literally no room for the bad guys (pathogens) to attach to and damage your intestinal walls. So when you're healing your body, probiotics may be a good choice for you.
Probiotics are naturally occurring, friendly bacteria. A probiotic supplement ultimately makes your intestinal tract healthier and more resilient. Probiotics aid digestion while they protect against yeast and other bacterial overgrowth and help prevent weight gain.
Many modern ailments are the result of disturbed gut flora. Frankly, your hunter-gatherer ancestors played around in the dirt a lot more than you do. This exposure provided them with the bacteria they needed to keep their guts healthy.
Probiotics are available in two forms: in a tablet (or capsule) or in a powdered formula. Heat can damage these fragile, friendly bacteria, so look for a dairy-free source that's stored in a refrigerator. Look for a probiotic supplement that contains multiple strains of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium — and follow the dosage recommendations on the label.
Vitamin D3 in a Paleo lifestyle
Vitamin D3 has been shown to lower the incidence of some cancers, reduce inflammation, prevent autoimmune diseases, maintain healthy bones, promote healthy moods, act as a powerful antioxidant, as well as prevent colds and flu.
Unfortunately, vitamin D3 deficiency has become an epidemic. If you spend a lot of time indoors or use sunscreen regularly, you may be low on vitamin D3. Even many windows block the UVB rays that you need to naturally produce vitamin D. Plus, the reality is that no sufficient dietary source exists.
To absorb vitamin D3 naturally, you need to expose large portions of your skin to the sun for about 15 minutes daily. But be careful! More is not better. If your skin begins to turn pink or red, you've already stopped producing Vitamin D.
Melatonin and your Paleo lifestyle
Melatonin is naturally produced in the pineal gland (which is found in the brain) when your environment starts to dim, whether it be from ambient lightning or dusk approaching. Melatonin is actually a hormone, and as levels in the blood increase, your body gets ready for sleep.
Your melatonin levels start to naturally decrease at about puberty, and wane even more after age 40, which is partly the reason it becomes more difficult to get a sound night sleep as you get older.
Melatonin has been found to be safe and effective for treating sleep issues. Melatonin helps restore and regulate your brain's natural rhythms, which contributes to a good night's sleep. The double bonus is that melatonin also floods your brain with antioxidants, so it's protective as well.
Sound, restful sleep is essential to your health. No matter what else you do to improve your health, if you're not sleeping well, you're not as healthy as you can be.
Paleo-approved magnesium supplements
Magnesium is an essential mineral in your muscle and nerve cells. In fact, more than half of the magnesium in your body is in your bones. It regulates muscle contractions. Where calcium constricts or tightens muscles, magnesium relaxes them. Magnesium calms nerve cells down, and a deficiency in magnesium interferes with nerve and muscle impulses, causing irritability and nervousness. It's also a big player in the formation of bones.
Happily, with magnesium supplementation, these ailments disappear — and the Paleo diet is packed with magnesium-rich foods so the period for supplementation can be short. Fish, meat, seafood, apples, almonds, avocados, leafy greens, and kelp are all great sources. Your levels will be back up in no time by living Paleo!
Magnesium supplementation is a great way to maintain your acid-base balance. Magnesium is alkaline very forming. Modern-day foods and lifestyles have made people very acidic, and magnesium is a great way to bring you to balance. It also moves stool through your intestines, so it's an amazing natural laxative. It relaxes you, helps you sleep, eases menstrual aches, and reduces muscle pains. Magnesium is definitely worth a try!
Branched-chain amino acids in Paleo-approved proteins
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. The term branched chain refers to the chemical structure of three of the amino acids that are essential to your body. Essential, meaning your body can't produce these amino acids, so you must get them through outside sources, such as food. These amino acids in the branched chain include L-Valine, L-Leucine, and L-Isoleucine, which are the three aminos responsible for muscle protein synthesis.
In nature, you find these amino acids in red meat products, eggs, fish, and nuts (and other non-Paleo sources, such as dairy, corn, beans, rice, wheat, and lentils).
Branched-chain amino acids help your body synthesize the protein found in your own muscles to prevent that muscle from breaking down. They assist your body in slowing down the rate of muscle wasting — especially after vigorous activity — so you maintain muscle and burn fat.
Another big bonus: Branched-chain amino acids can also help reduce cravings for carbohydrates, which is very beneficial while making the transition to living Paleo. So in addition to keeping your muscles strong, they also calm your cravings.
You'll see supplemental amino acids sold in a variety of forms: multivitamin mixtures, protein mixtures, capsules, tablets, and powders. The protein in your supplement should be derived from animal or vegetable protein — and it should be labeled free form, which means the amino acids are in the best form for digestion.