Why do we take pills as supplements in the first place? Is this life on Mars? Why are we consuming our nutrients and minerals in the form of pills? Wasn’t food the source of nutrients? When did swallowing little white pieces become the source of nutrients? And why would we substitute something so obviously essential for something so unnaturally artificial? What is it that has to be supplemented?Is it for the gaining of time? Is it for practicality?Is it actually enjoyable to swallow pills? There must be something about pills that make us want to take them. There must be a deeper cause for the reasons beyond the expected results they promise to give us. If food contains the nutrients we need, then why exchange eating which is way more pleasurous then an illogical act of swallowing pills instead of getting it from food?
I remember coming from Brazil and having to survive my first European winters in Barcelona. I was very insecure about how to deal with this weather. On my way to work I always passed by a pharmacy, and could not avoid to glance at it’s promising advertisements. It seemed like they had a solution to my cold worry. One day I finally entered one. I bought a big package named “Tus defensas para este invierno” or “Your defenses for this winter“. Great! I was confident that I needed this extra power to be protected against a potential flu. Walking out of the pharmacy I felt happy. I had additionally gotten myself a pack of Vitamin C, and D. I thought “Just in case, it’s better to be protected!”. I had the feeling that because of this purchase my body was protected. That feeling made me feel good about myself. Was it because I thought that I had bought my health? Taking supplementation felt good to me. I used to take as many supplements as I felt convinced to be needing them. Shopping in a pharmacy felt like I was taking care of myself. I didn’t even think about the whys. I was blindly trusting the industry. Did these pills actually help? Did I notice any difference? Any improvement?
The only clear answer is that I naturally slipped inside the trap of consumption. Advertisements influence us to take a pill as a solution not really looking at the cause. Our most commonly known consumption desire, which is pleasing yourself with gifts is applied in that scenario as well. The trip to the pharmacy made me feel healthier. But in the case of shopping at a pharmacy it is an exchange. It is swapping pills for food. It is an exchange that makes no sense.Consuming seems to be part of an innate human desire. But we turned the most primal desire and necessity of eating into a strange exchange of ingesting pills. What desire are we trying to attain, if eating no longer gives us the satisfaction of satiation?
When has the supply of nutrients become the supply of pills?
Let’s come back to that moment of purchase in the pharmacy. Do we feel good about ourselves when we buy it and every time we take it? I say yes. A visit to a pharmacy promptly gives us all we need to be healthy. We trust what the packaging says and readily hand out the credit card. Paying for it feels like a confident investment. All we need to do is remember to take it. It is an easy to learn method: open the plastic bottle, prepare a glass of water, take one pill and with one quick movement throw the pill into your mouth. With the other hand, grab the glass of water and drink it with satisfaction. Smile. “ I am taking care of myself”.Is this the real supply we want to get from pills? What kind of confidence is projected in our minds? What thoughts are silenced here? Or is it the mind that wants to be silenced?
Pills give us a way of ensuring that something that is missing, is delivered by a pill. There is something that is required but it is not there. There is a problem. This may be the reason why we take it, to suppress something that we know is important, but that we shy away from and supply instead with a prompt cure. I can conclude that the supplement is supplying a lack of time, interest or knowledge, but in reality there is a lot of interest, we are concerned about our health. It is a big concern. Deep inside it may be called fear. Fear of sickness, fear of dying.
What we really want to supply lies in the heart of ourselves. It is made up of insecurity and doubt. Why then would we look for assurance, driven by quick solutions advertised in a pharmacy? In the pharmacy we start to look around, our mind wonders what problems we may have. The counter asks if we are done but inside we wish to consume everything standing on the shelves.
A promise of greater health is as easy as swiping a credit card, imagine that!
Whether you call it doubt, guilt, denial or lack of willpower or commitment towards healthy food choices, supplement pills give us an inner satisfaction that is not driven only by a simple reason.These kinds of purchases are sometimes enough to disregard thinking. And the act of thinking under doubt requires a painful effort. Digging in feelings means feeling uncomfortable. But that is really the only way.
It is where the magic lies, the magic of a possible discovery! From the mystery of the unknown to a possible revelation of clearance and trust. Is it only through allowing awareness to be awakened that the ceasing of the noise of thinking will lead us with self esteem to take action. This is the killing of fear. Fear for the unknown, fear and lack of persistence to follow though.
Action kills fear!
Let’s start from the beginning. What are pills? Pills are supplements. They provide nutrition. Where does nutrition come from? Well, nutrients surprisingly come entirely from something called food. Now we can successfully conclude: I can get nutrition from food instead of pills! If we provide our bodies with high quality food our body will know what to do with it. Food has to be looked at from a different angle. Food is the replenishment, food is the healing. Right food supplies what our bodies lack. To recover the understanding that we are what we eat, and may become what we don’t eat, I propose to look not only at food, but specially into cooking from a nourishing perspective. To see cooking as part of the nourishing process. Let’s look at food literally as fuel, to cook strategically! To see food from the same perspective as our ancestors looked at food, as a source of healing, as replenishment. Food was the biggest concern, it’s purpose was to ensure the survival and improvement of the species. Isn’t that still the case?
Do we think of food as improvement? Not really. When you are hungry, you’ll probably ask yourself “What do I want to eat?” But instead let’s start with asking; “What nourishment do I need? What foods can improve me?” Instead of asking what you want, what about asking what your body wants? Let us think strategically about food. It is as easy as glancing at the contents of a multivitamin bottle. Checking what is available in nature, and how to maximize nutrients and minerals from foods has always been the goal of our ancestors. When checking nutrients amounts on the label of a pill bottle, we want to ensure that we are getting the most from what we are buying. That is the same with looking at food. What foods provide the highest amount of nutrients? What dish can I make that will be most fulfilling and satiating for my body?
If you provide high quality food to your body, it will know what to do with it.
Food is the provider of all our body’s needs. It seems too simple to be true, right? What then is the NATURAL source of the vitamin supplements? Before we had pills it was the mastering of cooking methods that allowed us to extract the most out of the food we had available. This was passed through generations. Traditional cookbooks are our nourishing Bibles. “Our ancestors left us the message = use food”, said Catherine Shanahan, M.D., in her book Deep Nutrition. This book is my favourite source of inspiration and resources. Thanks to science we can have the true attestment that all foods contain necessary vitamins and minerals that our body is made of, and that our ancestors’ cooking was not only intuitive but also right. But at the same time science created ways to introduce artificial ways of getting these nutrients. How is that? And why is that?
The problem is that medical research changed in a way that they dont look out for improving our biological efficacy. They won’t look for something that is already available in nature, it has to be a product, it has to be produced. Pharmaceutical companies develop products to sell, and then market prescriptions to problems. There is apparently a big connection between medical doctors and pharmacies. It seems like they benefit from a big conspiracy. Based on money most likely. Doctors don’t tell you the cause. They prescribe a solution for the problem. Think about it, even health experts recommend supplementation! I wonder if they connect to the fact that these dietary sources come from food. It is easier to prescribe a drug and buy it at the pharmacy. Cooking to improve health became too much of an effort.
But it is now, more than ever, that we need to reclaim the connection that we once had with food, with the source, with our nature. It will provoke an awakening over the reasons why we need what we need, why we cook what we cook, encouraging us to trust ourselves with the confidence of cooking for our health. Food has to be seen with a holistic approach, observed not only from the very emergence of desire until the final fulfillment of a pleasing taste, but also to be seen as a valid hunger to be fulfilled by nourishing satiation.
Food is the interconnection with the source of life, giving to our own being.
By cooking you can definitely transform a single act into a mindful moment of creativity and gratefulness. The food we eat is to give that source of life to us. We are directly responsible for the result. Every intake matters for our body. It is receiving all that information to use where it is needed. The process matters. Trying to resolve it with a quick fix supplement cannot be the natural way our bodies know. Our bodies need to be seen as a whole, in need of a compound of elements that it is made of. Supplements are fractions of particular nutrients isolated in a box. Why would this make sense to our body?
It is like enjoying the full experience of something instead of just a single little fraction of it. Let’s imagine your favourite artist announced that they are coming to your city! You’ll be definitely getting tickets straight away! You’ ll want to arrive very early, be on the front line, and rock the night out dancing! You’ll definitely stay until the end and organize a pre and after party with all your friends. This is a good occasion to purchase a nice new outfit, the occasion deserves it. You love this artist. Would you be conformed by only seeing it the next day on social media? Hell, no! Imagine seeing the advertisements, and not going for it?
That’s the feeling our bodies may have with just getting a part of what it wants. What to do with only a quick video recording of the festival? It is not enough to be satisfied. Our bodies want it all! And with that I mean the whole experience! The whole process. That is the ultimate satisfaction. We need the complete nutritional profile of that food. If it is Vitamin D, then where are the “fatty acids”, the best party animators? Where are the other vitamin friends that are always hanging out together? How can there be a party if the main singer didn’t show up? Yes.. it is very frustrating. So let it be a feast, let it be a happening, let eating become an everyday celebration! Why not enjoy the best food sources everyday? Do you still want to pop little white pills in your mouth?
Truth is, the thought of getting all nutrients only from food sources seems complicated. But I will give you the easiest answer to that. Prioritise nutrient dense foods. Biodensity foods are those foods that provide a larger amount of nutrients, essential fatty acids, minerals and the most important vitamins all in from one source. These foods are organ meats and bone broth. Both are my favourite food topics. If you’re curious, I have another post about it titled “What matter is on the inside”.In this post I dignify the liver. Liver is the most nutritious food in the world! One single slice may already give you more of the most important essential vitamins and minerals than all you may have eaten in the last days. It has the highest amounts per 100gr of vitamin A, D, K, B12, and minerals such as iron, copper, phosphate, chlorine. Not to forget its superior protein quality. If we were still living in the wild, the moment we caught a prey, we would definitely have fought to get a bite of the liver. If eating liver sounds too savage for you, then why not get classy and make yourself a liver paté? Paté recipes exist in such a great variety of possible combinations of seasoning and additions, that when savouring it your body may be the only one to know that you are actually eating liver.
But knowing what to eat also comes with knowing the background of what you eat. Where does this food come from? How was the animal raised? What food did it eat? It is crucial to know these things because you will eat it and that is what matters. What it ate and how it grew up will define the quality of nutrients that you will receive. Next time you choose a plastic wrapped meat box, think back to the process and how it landed there. To wish for a happy life in the sun and being treated with care is not an exaggeration to strive for the animal we are eating. The key is if it was fed the food it would naturally eat in nature. Let’s take vitamin D as an example again. If that same happy jumping calf spent its days in the pleasant sunlight, and the grass it was fed was nourished from the sun, containing this vitamin, then the vitamin will get into their bodies. By eating the meat, we get the vitamin directly available into our bodies. A complete nutritional profile of vitamin D depends on getting the fatty acid cholesterol Sulfate found in animal fat, that accounts for an engagement and effective conversion in our bodies. That is why eating animal fats is important. That magical term that accounts for this is a “synergistic” process where our bodies will know what to do if the nutrients provided come together.
Let’s have another look at the most common supplement for joint health and training support, Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate. They help nourish the body with hydration, repair, and to reduce inflammation. In nature they are available in bones, cartilage, tendons and skin. How to get them? Especially by cooking bones, eating meat with bones or by biting out the gristle of a chicken bone. Bone broth is an excellent and abundant source of these and many more nutrients, as they are infused in long and low temperature cooking. The extraction of all these elements into the water happens in a magic flowing way. This is what I call the true “all in one” supplement taken all straight from the source.I searched for the antonym of supplement, but unfortunately “food” was not the initial answer I hoped to find. The explanation was “base / core”.That answer made me smile. What else could be our most basic foundation and true essence in life if not food?