Supplements are a multi-billion dollar industry which has exploded in recent years. I’m sure you’ve seen ads, email spam, and TV commercials which promise to make you lose weight with the right supplement. The truth of the matter is that most food supplements do not help you lose weight. However, food supplements can boost your overall health and can even be used as a form of natural medicine for certain ailments.
A lot of supplements advertised on the market include green tea supplements, goji berry capsules, acai berry pills, and so on. Do they even do anything? Actually, they do. You will most likely not lose weight with them, but research shows these natural supplements have an enormous antioxidant capacity. Antioxidants are found in a variety of plants and fruits, especially berries, and without getting into the hard science behind them, what they do is neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are dangerous atoms, molecules, or ions which are highly reactive and can damage your cells and the molecules in your body, including your DNA. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of studies which show that diets high in antioxidant-rich foods are associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and the list goes on. As you can imagine, antioxidants have become a huge topic in alternative medicine. Research is still being done to understand how the various types of antioxidants work in the body to protect us from free radicals.
There are also supplements which have shown promise in treating ailments. Niacin (vitamin B3) is a supplement readily available over-the-counter which was actually used to treat patients with high LDL (bad) cholesterol and low (good) HDL cholesterol before the statin class of medications were developed. It’s a very powerful vitamin and can cause uncomfortable flushing even at moderate doses, so it’s best to discuss this with your doctor before you decide to take it, especially if you’re taking other medications. Another food supplement which helps cholesterol is omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oil and flax oil. Taking omega-3 food supplements has been shown to increase your good cholesterol levels and there is evidence that they are protective against cancer. Magnesium may also help raise your good cholesterol as well.
And we can keep going. Glucosamine does actually improve joint problems. Vitamin D improves bone health and can boost your immune system. Calcium supplements are often recommended to post-menopausal women who are especially at risk for osteoarthritis or osteoporosis. Zinc is essential for prostate gland function.
But are there food supplements that can help you lose weight? There are some which show promise. While few natural supplements can boost your metabolism, some have been shown to lower your appetite, such as Hoodia. Getting enough fiber in your diet is very important for general health, but also can make you feel fuller and increase overall satiety which can make weight loss much easier. Unfortunately, most people don’t get nearly enough fiber in their regular diet, so supplements are often necessary. There are a whole variety of fiber supplements, from simple psyllium husks to a recent super fiber supplement called PGX.
There is no such thing as a miracle food supplement, but with the right supplements you can greatly improve your health. But remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!