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Let’s start with the word itself. “Supplement”. Something you add, to enhance – not so much to complete, or it would be a “component.” Supplementation is what you do, after you’ve done everything that should be done. Point is, nutritional supplements are useful when the diet is inadequate.  In a society as affluent as ours, nobody has any business having an inadequate diet. Broccoli and potatoes, and the like, are cheap and highly nutritious. Wheat is easy to sprout. Carrot juice. All, cheap and easy.

 But let’s be real. Not potatoes: potato chips. Not carrot juice: cola drink. Cauliflower? What’s that?   And even given an attempt at a responsible diet, well, food isn’t what it used to be. We don’t need to distress ourselves about “organic” produce, to understand that commercial foods have been bred for appearance, taste and shelf-life, rather than for nutritional content.

 So supplements can be useful. No guarantees. Who knows what some particular individual needs. This is not about function or theory, not about the details of how things work or why they are necessary; just a list of good practices, that have been demonstrated to help some people some times. So, here follows a brief list of recommendations, always bearing in mind the practicalities of cost-benefits.

Almost all of our aches and pains are due to systemic inflammation. A healthy inflammatory response is necessary: it brings bloodflow, heat, nutrients, to local damage. Sadly, most folks have an unhealthy inflammatory response ... hysterical. Most of the over-the-counter painkillers are anti-inflammatory: NSAIDs = non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

 OMEGA 3 FISH OIL is the most potent nutritional anti-inflammatory around. Not the pills – all that surface area makes them rancid. Liquid, in a pint bottle, kept sealed in the refrigerator. Any healthfood store will have it, or shop around online. Mega dose: one or two or three tablespoons, in your morning berry smoothie, maybe? Neutral lemon flavor: does not taste fishy – if it does, it’s rancid. The results are, not infrequently, dramatic.

 Other easy-to-find herbal supplements, either highly anti-inflammatory or generally salubrious, are: turmeric, ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, devils claw, cats claw, boswellia, feverfew.

Joint health
The anti-inflammatories are a big part of relieving joint pain, but more specifically, hyaluronic acid, which aids with regard to the gooey fluid that should be lubricating your hinges.  It's the biochmical that gives a rooster's comb its pert upthrust!  A good general supplement is "Joint Support" from Trader Joe's --  with glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM.  As with almost all supplements, the data are ambiguous regarding efficaciousness.  Maybe it's all snake oil.  But maybe not.

Digestive aids 
There’s hardly any point in eating, if you are not extracting meaningful nutrients from the effort. Anyone over a certain age will not be digesting their food properly. Sometimes the deadly aroma of what is left in the commode is just the result of an exotic side dish. Most frequently, it’s because food has not been digested and absorbed, but rather it has been chewed and then held inside your 98.6 degree intestinal tract for a day or two or three, rotting, putrefying, going rancid, fermenting, incubating hostile microbes, building up a stank like you're working for al-Qaeda. So ... digest your food.

 For any protein meal, HYDROCHLORIC ACID tablets may work wonders. Take one at the end of the meal, or more until you get an acid stomach, then one less. Pay the capitalists to do the work that your stomach refuses to do.

 For any cooked meal, take one or more DIGESTIVE ENZYME tablets at the beginning of the meal.  All foods contain their own enzymes, because all living things require enzymes, which do not die when the organism dies. Enzymes function as, uh, robot housekeepers – maintaining living things, breaking dead things down. Inside our bellies, that breaking-down is called digestion. When you cook the food you kill the enzymes. So what, you wonder? You make your own enzymes! Indeed you do, at the cost of having a pancreas three times larger than it should be. A theoretical reason why calorie-restriction is the ONLY proven method to extend longevity is that with fewer calories there is less of a digestive strain on the metabolism. An engine that runs cooler is more efficient. Point is, food without enzymes is indigestible. You can eat raw food, cook it and over-tax your pancreas, or pay the capitalists to make enzymes for you.

Other good practices 
PGX is a soluble fiber that mixes in with the bad carbs you've eaten and turns them into medium carbs.  Like oatmeal.  Doesn't add any nutrition, but it slows absorption down and avoids the insulin spike that is what makes bad carbs bad.  Take with a glass of water -- it's going to get gooey, and will take fluid from your tissue if not from the glass.

PROBIOTICS: something is going to live inside you. A statistic that’s common enough to be taken as true is that 90% of the DNA inside you is not human DNA. Microbes are orders of magnitude smaller than your own cells, and populate your gut, inevitably. Something IS going to live inside you. Do you want it to be, say, yeast and putrefactive bacteria, and suchlike enemies of humanity? – or beneficial symbiotes. It answers itself.  Best practice, store in refrigerator; take before bed on an empty stomach.

CHELATED MINERALS: “chelated” means the mineral is bonded to another molecule and is bio-available, rather than just a rock dug out of the ground. If we could thrive on dirt, we’d be plants.

VITAMINS: we all know it, but it bears repeating. Dead, cooked, processed food is dead. Sure, they put back some of the vitamins, but maybe their eye to quality isn’t that trustworthy? So take charge. Vitamins B, C and D suggest themselves as needing emphasis. Lots of controversy about dosages, which we need not enter into here. Just an interesting factoid: humans have the gene to make vitamin C, but that gene is mutated, broken, silent (also in all anthropoid primates, guinea pigs, some birds, some bats). The amount of vitamin C that animals daily make for themselves corresponds to about 8 grams, for humans. We don’t argue by analogy, but that doesn’t make analogies wrong.

 Weeping bitter tears of regret, after it’s too late, avails us nothing. We understand that there are no guarantees. Sometimes the best possible outcome is pretty bad. But it’s still the best. What, you want worse? So best practice will lead to best results, regardless of what the result is. A less-horrible disease? Good! I’ll take it! We don’t need perfection. We need diligence, which in the case of nutrition means responsible choices, with some supplementation.

 Be excellent.

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