This post is a bit of a change of pace from my normal content. I usually write about the mental side of personal development but this post is about the physical health side.
After posting about my morning routine on Instagram Stories, I received dozens of messages asking what exact products I take and why. This post will explain that.
I believe personal development is about improving all aspects of your life, not just your mindset.
"Supplements" Is A Loaded Word
A lot of people read the word "supplements" and automatically assume I'm talking about some kind of synthetic or ineffective substance. While there are certainly many of those kinds of products out there, they have nothing to do with what I'm talking about here.
I generally stick to food-based substances and other things found in nature. I admit this can make my use of the term "supplement" somewhat confusing.
For example, ginseng is just the root of a particular plant. But in order to be sold in stores, it's usually dried, powdered down and encapsulated. In this form, it's usually called a "supplement" and (unfortunately) lumped in with synthetically produced multi-vitamins that turn your pee highlighter yellow.
Why I Take Supplements
I often take supplements to target specific organs or bodily systems, like my brain or digestive system. I rotate them depending on where I feel I need extra help.
For example, if I'm in a period where I'm doing a lot of cerebral work like studying or writing (which is often), I'll take some brain-supporting herbs.
Or, to prevent my digestion from getting thrown off while travelling (as it tends to do), I'll take a round of probiotics during a trip to make sure my intestines have enough beneficial bacteria to function properly (i.e. poop normally).
Supplements Do Not Replace Food
Obviously, eating nutritionally dense food should be the foundation of any healthy diet. I do not use supplements as a replacement for food. I think of them more like a form of insurance -- to make sure I'm covering all my bases.
Unfortunately, most food today -- even the high-quality, organic stuff -- is less nutritious than the food our early human ancestors ate, let alone food from a few decades ago. Strategic supplementation can help fill in some of the gaps in our modern diet.
My Current Supplement Routine
I wrote this to share how these supplements have benefited me personally, not to provide a comprehensive overview of all the science behind each product. There has been tons written about these ingredients by people far more qualified than I am. I encourage you to do your own research.
I'm a stickler for quality and I've tried many supplements over the years. The ones here have proven to work well for me and I've used most of them for years. Although I love these brands, I know there are other great ones out there. Experiment and find ones you like. As with all my advice, take what is useful and leave what is not.
Brand: Nordic Naturals
This product provides an ultra-purified source of Omega-3 fatty acids, primarily DHA and EPA.
DHA is a primary structural component of the human brain, cerebral cortex, skin, and retina. It's important for healthy metabolism and central nervous system function.
The human body does not make DHA on its own so it needs to come from our diet. We can synthesize a small amount from other dietary fatty acids, but for most people this isn't enough.
Omegas have somewhat of a grounding effect on me. They enable me to handle cognitive stress better and for longer periods of time.
I love this product because the purification process removes environmental toxins usually associated with eating high quantities of fish. There's also zero fishy smell or aftertaste.
Bacopa is an herb that has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine. Traditionally, it has been used for memory improvement and mental clarity.
I take it on an empty stomach first thing in the morning and usually feel more clear-headed, alert and focused throughout the day.
I'm a big of Himalaya as a company because they hold themselves to exceptionally rigorous quality standards for all their products.
Product: True Energy
Brand: Redd Remedies
This isn't an "energy pill" in the way you might think. If you're looking for a 5-hour high, this is not going to give that to you.
What it does -- at least for me -- is provide a sort of foundational energy and sustained vitality throughout the entire day. There's no crash because there's nothing to crash from.
It's a combination of several different adaptogenic herbs that have traditionally been used to support the adrenal glands. The adrenals can become overworked with prolonged exposure to physical, mental, or environmental stressors. So, like...life.
Product: Cordyceps Mushroom Elixir Mix
Brand: Four Sigmatic
Cordyceps are a type of medicinal mushroom. Medicinal mushrooms are different from culinary mushrooms you might find in a grocery store (like portobellos). They have unique properties like long-chain sugars (polysaccharides) that can have significant positive health effects.
Cordyceps have traditionally been used for strength and endurance so I usually take this as part of my pre-workout drink. I definitely feel it gives me an added boost and helps me work out longer and harder.
It comes as a powder packaged in a small packet and conveniently mixes into liquid. Tastes earthy, with notes of chocolate or coffee (I typically mix it with cacao, honey and other ingredients to make a delicious drink).
Four Sigmatic has some of the highest quality medicinal mushrooms on the market and is all around just an awesome company.
Brand: Elysium Health
Elysium describes themselves as a "consumer health company" (a term I like better than "supplement company"). Their focus is on cellular health with an emphasis on increasing "healthspan," as opposed to just lifespan. Healthspan is about having more life in your years rather than just more years in your life, something I'm a huge fan of.
What attracted me to this product initially was the level of clinical research that led to it: 25 years of aging research by their chief scientist, Dr. Leonard Guarente at MIT, along with many other aging researchers. They also have a staff of 20 scientists on their advisory board and seven of them are Nobel Prize winners! Seriously.
Lately, I've been interested in what it takes to maintain excellent health at the cellular level. It turns out that all of our cells contain a compound called NAD+ which is essential for DNA protection, energy creation, circadian rhythms and hundreds of other vital functions.
Problem is, as we age NAD+ levels decline and these functions start to break down. The ingredients in Basis have been shown to increase the NAD+ levels in humans by 40%. Translation: Basis supports long-term quality of life.
This is a fairly new supplement for me but since I've been using it, I've noticed my circadian rhythm (sleep cycles) have been stable and consistent. I also seem to be able to do deep work for longer periods of time.
I especially love that Basis is designed for long-term use and third party-tested for quality.
You can follow Elysium Health on Twitter.
This post is for informational purposes only. I am not a doctor and I am not suggesting these particular supplements are right for you. Nor am I trying to sell you on a particular supplement. I'm just sharing what works for me.
Ruben Chavez is a lifestyle philosopher and personal development educator. His passion for personal development inspired him to create the Instagram account, ThinkGrowProsper, which has amassed over 3 million followers. Along with his blog, these platforms are his way of inspiring and connecting with thoughtful, creative, and ambitious people just like you.