The Supplements I Recommend, and Why

Supplement PillsAmericans love supplements! Roughly half of us use them. We spent $11.5 billion on supplements last year, and that number is consistently climbing.

In one sense that’s a good thing: it indicates we are interested in being healthy, and are trying to do something positive.

But on the other hand, are we getting our money’s worth? Are all those supplements doing any good? Or are they perhaps doing harm? How can we know? Are we using supplements as an excuse to continue living an unhealthy lifestyle?

I’m not a fan of the US Food and Drug Administration, but I do believe we need to use science rather than hype to make decisions on what we put into our bodies. Anecdotes don’t convince me. Scientific research has its limitations, but it’s still the best we have in answering the question, “Is Product X safe and effective?” The FDA is, right now, the best we have – and they don’t control the supplement industry except when they make specific statements claiming to treat or cure disease.

Consumer Labs is a private company that does offer some independent evaluation for the plethora of nutritional products available.

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Nobody Wants to be Healthy

Healthy BreakfastI’m guilty of it all the time – probably every day. I’ve discovered one of my underlying assumptions about life, and I have been wrong.

I have assumed everyone wants to be healthy. But that’s not true!

Research abounds on the lifestyle dimensions important for good health. You know the drill: exercise regularly, eat a variety of healthy foods including fruits and vegetables, maintain a healthy weight, don’t smoke, drink alcohol sparingly if at all, sleep 7-8 hours a night, manage stress well. How many of us do those behaviors regularly? Research shows that only 3% of us follow 4 of these most important health habits.

I’ve come to the conclusion that most people really don’t care about being healthy. Some do, but most of us want something else more. Convenience, laziness, “hyper-palatable” food, busy-ness, habit – all very good “reasons” for an unhealthy lifestyle.

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Being REAL or Being Helpful

Two Girls Sharing SecretsDo I share my feelings completely? ALL the time? Will it hurt other people if I do? If I don’t, will keeping secrets hurt me – or them? If I know this, shouldn’t I share the information?

Some people naturally share everything they hear or know or feel. Others have developed the habit of keeping everything to themselves. Here’s a truth to ponder: once you tell someone something, you can’t “untell” it. Apologies can help if you’ve said something that is harmful, but how much better to never tell something that causes pain in the first place. It may not always be easy to know whether sharing certain information is wise or not.

Here are a few examples of where “keeping secrets” is actually a good thing:

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5 Tips for Getting Past the Drama

Drama MasksIn my office today sat a couple planning the next steps in their journey to try to have a child. Couples dealing with infertility are already on somewhat of an emotional roller-coaster. On top of all this the additional stress of the Christmas holiday season is sometimes just too much.

But for this couple it wasn’t the physical or emotional pressure of infertility, or the extra travel or financial “stuff” over the Christmas holiday season, or the somewhat depressing weather that was getting them down: it was the family drama they had just been through. Why does it seem the holidays so often bring that drama to a boiling point?

I doubt this couple are the only ones who have just experienced some fatiguing family drama.

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Run – or Pray?

Two GirlsTwo little girls walked to school every day. (Yes, once upon a time they really did that!) On this particular morning they were enjoying the pleasant sun more than usual. Suddenly it occurred to them that they were going to be late: the bell would ring and they would be marked tardy.

One little girl said to the other, “We’re going to be late! Let’s kneel down and pray.”

“No,” said the other. “Let’s pray while we run!”

As a physician and a minister I see both extremes:

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