During my one-on-one coaching sessions, it's common for my clients to want to go over their blood test results, lifestyle habits, exercise regimens, sleep patterns, and a whole host of other concerns they have regarding their health.
But increasingly, kind of like when you go to a naturopathic or functional medicine doctor and you bring a big plastic bag of all the supplements that you're taking so they can look through them, people are doing the same thing with me over the phone or Skype.
The number of people who have no clue why they're taking something or even what they're taking is shocking. Just last week, somebody I talked to was taking all of their supplements—probably a good $500 a month worth—and shoveling them all in their mouth with breakfast at the same time.
Either you take supplements yourself and can relate, or you may be saying to yourself, “I maintain a healthy lifestyle, eat plenty of plants, prioritize sleep, hydrate with only the best water, and get my daily dose of vitamin D. Why would I need supplements?”
So in today's article, I'm going to present some pretty compelling information to support the notion that supplements can indeed amplify the benefits of your already healthy lifestyle; outline the exact supplements I take every day for the different areas I'm trying to target (like fat loss or recovery, or energy, or sleep, etc.); and finish it all up by clearing the air on this whole realm of experimentation and which supplements I've tried as part of my immersive journalism.
Why You Should Take Supplements In The First Place
Before diving into my routine, I think it only makes sense to start with why you would want to take supplements in the first place.
In a nutshell, our modern, post-industrial, polluted, toxin-laden lifestyle demands more nutrients than food can often provide.
The chronic stressors of modern life, whether it's the iPhone screen interfering with your circadian rhythms and chronic biology or the never-ending work deadlines, all of these things can increase your nutrient needs. And that, of course, will increase even more dramatically if you're an athlete, hard charger, or frequent exerciser.
Each and every day you face hundreds of toxins—pollutants in the air you breathe, degraded plastic byproducts in your drinking water, chemicals in your household cleaning products, and pesticides in your food. Each of these further increase your body's need for vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These types of nutrients are necessary to help shuttle toxins through natural detox pathways and prevent the formation of DNA damaging free radicals.
To make matters even worse, when you're eating modern-day food you're likely not getting the full array of nutrients that our prior generations enjoyed. Due to modern farming techniques and fertilizers, most soil is depleted of nutrients more than it was in the past, which decreases the beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants when you're eating from these largely conventionally grown crops.
So why not just switch to organic food?
While some studies suggest that organically grown foods contain more nutrients than non-organic foods, other studies have concluded that there's no significant difference.
Furthermore, for most of human history our ancestors ate now nearly extinct and hard to find dense cell-rich carbohydrates such as wild-tubers, and cellular grains like quinoa, amaranth, and millet. That's in contrast to the refined acellular grains and white rice that primarily comprise our modern carbohydrate intake. Cellular carbohydrates are starches that are bound up in plant cell walls; whereas, an acellular carbohydrate is something in which the cell wall has been broken down. The type of carbohydrates that we tend to eat are these acellular carbohydrates which are less nutrient-dense. Another advantage of cellular carbohydrates is that they provide the essential prebiotics that help our probiotic bacteria flourish. Check out this article if you want to dig more deeply into the difference between cellular and acellular carbohydrates
The abundance of refined carbohydrates in processed foods can create significant blood sugar swings and glycemic variability that our ancestors probably also didn't deal with to as great an extent. A quick glance at a coffee shop display case or hotel breakfast bar that features bagels and muffins and sugary cereals explains why many people rely on snacks just to make it through the inevitable mid-morning blood sugar crash. These blood sugar imbalances can lead to chronic inflammation and are responsible for a host of chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer's, obesity, depression, and cancer.
In addition to the carbohydrate issue, the meat, eggs, and dairy products that we commonly find in grocery stores deliver far fewer anti-inflammatory nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids that we would find in wild or pastured animals. Most Western diet munchers consume an imbalanced ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (That includes the Paleo diet, which can often create an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 20:1 up to 30:1.) A westernized ratio can be up to 40:1. The ratio you should be looking for is about a 4:1 omega-6 to omega-3.
To make it even more complicated, modern harvesting, shipping, processing, and storage techniques all degrade the nutrient content of the food you eat. Plants grown with modern fertilizer can contain only 25% of the micronutrients of those grown using more traditional farming methods with good soil turnover practices.
Nutrients further degrade as they're shipped and as they sit on store shelves. So, a fresh-picked apple is more nutritious than an apple you buy at the supermarket in the winter, and that apple at the supermarket in the winter is also likely treated with something like methyl cyclopropane which can give it a shelf life of up to 10 months, according to the FDA.
While these preservatives appear to maintain the freshness of the foods we eat, at the same time they can impede the bioavailability of nutrients and increase your body's need for nutrients to process the synthetic additives. It's a 1-2 combo, and not in a good way. Similarly, many common medications, such as acid reflux or hypertension drugs have also been shown to inhibit nutrient absorption.
Then there are precious fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D. The recommendations for sufficient vitamin D levels are controversial, but it's safe to say that most people—based on blood and biomarker data—are not getting enough of many of these important fat-soluble vitamins. Many people are even genetically predisposed to not get as much vitamin D from sunlight as others.
Oh, and if it's not bad enough that modern agricultural practices, preservatives, and a constant barrage of toxins have left most of us nutrient deficient, an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and simply getting older both also impede your ability to absorb nutrients from food. So, as you can see, there's a lot going on that sets up a scenario where nutrient or micronutrient deficiencies could arise in just about anybody.
What About Our Ancestors?
A lot of people will say, “Well, so what… Our ancestors roamed the plains, they were highly active, and many lived to a ripe old age. And perhaps they didn't have access to extremely nutrient-dense superfoods all the time. So how did they get by?”
Well, the assumption that our previous generations didn't take supplements is simply not true.
Multiple examples of supplementation in ancient cultures exist. Ancient supplements could include anything from root, stem, and leaf teas that were used for specific medicinal symptoms to medicinal powders ground by mortar and pestle and highly concentrated oil extracts. Just because they didn't have encapsulation technology or miron glass jars to package this stuff with back in the day doesn't mean that these can't be considered supplements. They were simply concentrated sources of nutrients extracted from plants, trees, and herbs that allowed them to have a medicinal effect or a highly concentrated nutrient profile compared to, say, just eating food.
We also know that our ancestors did things like eat dirt, which has a wide range of beneficial probiotics. Even animals—ranging from insects to chimps—engage in zoopharmacognosy, or self-medicating, by consuming specific plants.
Furthermore, the methods that we use to gather, cook, and consume foods are drastically different than those of our ancestors, meaning that we probably are also just getting fewer nutrients from the food that we eat. Take the way we eat meat, for example. We generally only eat animal muscle and discard the collagen-rich connective tissue. Previous generations simmered animal carcasses for hours, liberating collagen, gelatin, and fat-soluble vitamins from connective tissue. This would be similar to us using a collagen peptide supplement, an amino acid supplement, or a packaged bone broth.
So, the notion that our ancestors (as well as the animal kingdom) didn't supplement or self-medicate is simply false.
We even see examples in the animal kingdom of the use of psychedelic compounds. For example, bees will get stoned on orchid nectar, goats will gobble magic mushrooms, birds will chomp marijuana seeds, rats will consume opium as well as mice, lizards, flies, spiders, and cockroaches, cows will consume loco grass, moths will consume the incredibly hallucinogenic datura flower, mandrills will consume Ebogo roots, and so on. Elephants will get drunk on anything they can find—usually, fermented fruit in a bog hole. (They've also been known to raid breweries in India.)
So to take something from nature and concentrate it for a medicinal, micronutrient, concentrated nutrient, or even a psychedelic effect, is certainly not a foreign concept. Therefore, I'm completely not opposed to the idea of dressing up my diet with a certain amount of supplementation.
Basic Daily Nutrients
I can't really go anywhere these days without being asked “What supplements do you take, Ben? What is your own personal protocol looking like these days? What are you on?”
So I'm going to take this opportunity to walk you through precisely what I regularly take, step by step.
The first thing that I target is my basic daily nutrient and micronutrient repletion protocol. You've probably heard me in the past recommend that, for most people, I think a good multivitamin and mineral complex are a good idea. The one that I've recommended the most is the Thorne Multivitamin Elite, consisting of an A.M. formula and a P.M. formula.
Now, I'm not necessarily saying you have to take Thorne. There are other good brands out there, you just have to know what to look for. Here are the key characteristics I look for in a multivitamin:
- If it has vitamin D, it should also have vitamin K—preferably, vitamins K1 and K2. Most multivitamins will use only K1, but, K2 is crucial for proper calcium metabolism.
- It should contain a natural form of folate, instead of folic acid. A large portion of the population, based on their MTHFR genetic status, can't really properly convert folic acid to folate, so what you want to look for on the label of your multivitamin is natural folate—usually marked as 5-MTHF or methyltetrahydrofolate, instead of folic acid.
- When you look at vitamin B12, look for methylcobalamin, not cyanocobalamin. Methylcobalamin has been shown to have a far better absorption rate.
- Any type of add-in that might make that multivitamin more effective. For example, one of the reasons I like the Thorne multivitamin is because it has things in it for the morning dose that help with wakefulness (like green tea phytosomes) and then things in the evening dose that help with relaxation (like plant extracts from magnolia and philodendron, which help to decrease nighttime levels of cortisol and also balance DHEA levels).
I recently interviewed Mira and Jayson Calton, and we got into micronutrients and competition of certain components of different vitamins and why timing and the way you mix your supplements is important. So definitely check that podcast out for a deeper dive into what to look for in a multivitamin/supplement.
That all being said, I'm not currently using the Thorne multivitamin. Instead, I've been experimenting with using organ meats, or nature's multivitamin, for the past eight weeks and have been feeling pretty darn good while doing so.
When I'm at home, I eat a largely nose-to-tail based diet that includes a lot of liver and heart. As I write this, I actually have kidney upstairs marinating that I'm going to dredge in some egg yolk, cover in almond flour, and sauté in some grass-fed butter for my family tonight.
When I'm not at home—and don't have access to liver, kidneys, heart, etc.—I've been using organ complexes made by two different companies—Paleovalley, and Ancestral Supplements. The one I'm using right now is from Ancestral Supplements, a blend of grass-fed liver, grass-fed heart, grass-fed kidney, grass-fed pancreas, and grass-fed spleen—all from freeze-dried New Zealand grass-fed beef. A good organ complex is giving you pretty much everything you're going to get in a multivitamin: bioavailable heme iron, selenium, enzymes, coenzyme-Q10, vitamin B12 complex, a good spectrum of fat-soluble vitamins.
So for your basic daily needs, an organ complex or a multivitamin complex, both taken with food (A.M. dose with breakfast and P.M. dose with dinner). Oh, and if I'm actually eating organ meats like I am tonight, I'll skip the organ complex dose for that day.
So that's it for your basic daily needs—a multivitamin like Thorne Multi-Vitamin Elite or an organ complex by Paleovalley or Ancestral Supplements. I also like the stuff that Mira and Jayson Calton make at Calton Nutrition. Onnit, Standard Process, and Designs for Health also all have fantastic multivitamins.
The other supplement that I use for basic nutrient repletion comes down to personalization based on genetics, and that is glutathione.
I use glutathione on a daily basis because, as I explain on this podcast, I have a low level of the genetic factors necessary for my own endogenous glutathione production.
Even if you haven't been genetically tested and found for your levels to be low, chances are you can still benefit from glutathione because of its potency as an antioxidant. It's great for people who travel a lot, (especially on airplanes), people who are exposed to a lot of industrial pollutants, people exposed to a lot of dirty electricity, etc.
I use a liposomal form of glutathione (made by a company called AlmsBio) because oral glutathione supplementation is notoriously poorly absorbed. AlmsBio glutathione also has two really good forms of support for the mitochondria in it—CoQ10 and PQQ. It's a sublingual blend, and it tastes just like an orange creamsicle, it's really good actually.
So while I'm having my morning breakfast smoothie and reading emails—which, because I do intermittent fasting, is typically around 9:30 or 10:00 A.M.—I always take my organ complex and AlmsBio glutathione.
As far as nootropics, smart drugs, or just general overall energy, there are two basic things I use for that.
Number one is something that I think everybody, especially vegetarians and vegans, would benefit from—due to its ability to not only promote lean body mass but also support cognitive function, support power output, increase work capacity, support physical endurance, and assist with maintaining hydration within the cells—would be creatine.
I don't use anything fancy, just basic creatine monohydrate. The form I currently use is Kion Creatine. It's an easy to mix highly-researched form of creatine found to be very bioavailable and just micronized creatine monohydrate.
I simply add mine to my morning smoothie, then take my second dose later in the evening.
In addition to creatine, I also tend to use some kind of a pick-me-up. A lot of times, I'll take this in the morning and occasionally I'll also use something like this in the mid-afternoon.
It's important to note here that everyone is different. I happen to be a fast caffeine oxidizer. This is based on a certain enzyme pathway called the P450 pathway. I just have higher than normal levels, meaning I can take a nootropic or a caffeine complex in the afternoon and it doesn't disrupt my sleep at all. Others, slow caffeine oxidizers, for example, are not going to process this stuff quite as quickly and want to avoid anything like a smart drug or a nootropic, or even a cup of coffee in the afternoon. If you're not sure which you are, I recommend erring on the side of caution or taking a genetic test such as 23andMe.
There are two smart drug-ish, or nootropic natural cognitive enhancer compounds that I currently take and have in my pantry (both taken on an empty stomach).
The first is Tianchi. This one is more of a Chinese approach. It's a traditional Chinese medicine, adaptogenic blend approach consisting of a whole host of different nutrients from vinpocetine to Gingko Biloba to astragalus. It's got 30 different wildcrafted Chinese herbs in it.
As you may have heard on my recent podcast, there's a big issue in the Ayurvedic and Chinese medicinal supplement industry right now with contamination and with iron, or with liver toxicity. So you definitely want to be careful that you get stuff that is vouched for, or that is organic or wildcrafted. This TianChi, I will vouch for. It's been a staple in my supplement pantry for seven years. I've interviewed the guy who formulates it twice. He's a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner and an herbologist. His name is Roger Drummer, and you can listen to my podcasts with him here and here.
Interestingly, I was just reading a book about the brain by Dr. Daniel Amen. Most of the ingredients in TianChi are in that book, as supplements recommended for TBI, concussions, maintaining cognition with aging, shutting down brain inflammation, etc.
The other one that I'll use (and I'll kind of like go back and forth between these two) is made by the Neurohacker Collective, and it's called Qualia Mind. I take the caffeine-free version because, this is a perfect example of redundancy in supplements, I have a nice piping hot cup of coffee every morning. So, why would I want caffeine in my nootropic when I'm already getting it in my cup of coffee? Qualia Mind is a blend of everything from bacopa to rhodiola, to artichoke leaf extract, and beyond. Basically, anything you'd find in most of the popular nootropic supplements out there are in this. But, it's well-formulated in that it has things like minerals and choline in it, the things that would naturally get turned over at higher rates when your brain is working faster so you don't get that notorious post-nootropic crash that a lot of these more poorly formulated supplements give to you.
Occasionally I will also use psychedelics, meaning I will use a microdose of psilocybin or a microdose of LSD once every three to four days or so because any compound like that can really turn over your 5-HTP levels quite heavily and result in some neurotransmitter depletion if used on a daily basis.
On days where I use microdoses, I don't use Tianchi or Qualia Mind, that's just too much. And to be honest, these are pretty expensive supplements—everything from psychedelics to Qualia Mind or Tianchi—so I don't take them unless I feel I have to.
Blood Sugar Management
I consider blood sugar management to be kind of synonymous with fat loss as well as a healthier approach to fat loss—rather than something like ephedra, cayenne, or green tea extract and all these things that kind of give you a sweat and make you a little uncomfortable.
Now don't get me wrong, they can be pretty good for a pre-workout, especially if you're really wanting to amp up fat loss rates.
But, basically, if I can control my blood glucose, it's that much more likely that I'm going to get less sugar converted into triglycerides stored away in adipose tissue.
I'm a big fan of using a blood sugar management supplement…
A) Before my most carbohydrate-rich meal of the day, which for me is always going to be dinner because I don't have any carbs the entire day until dinnertime. (It just keeps my body in fat-burning mode the entire day.) Then, at dinner time, I can have my carbs and those get sucked away as muscle and liver glycogen to be used for the next day's work out.
B) Prior to cold thermogenesis, like before a cold bath or a cold soak or cold water swim, because it can amplify the conversion of white adipose tissue to metabolically active brown fat.
So, the one that I use is made by my own company, Kion. It's called Kion Lean and is a blend of wild bitter melon extract, Panax notoginseng, and Astragalus membranaceus, which support really good blood sugar management and glucose metabolism and a healthy response to insulin.
The other cool thing about wild bitter melon extract is an AMPK activator. So, it activates some of the same cellular machinery pathways the same way fasting or exercise does.
There are three things that I take to enhance recovery. However, I do not take these right after an exercise session because anything that accelerates recovery, often, is acting as an antioxidant.
You actually don't want to shut down inflammation immediately post-workout, meaning you should save any type of antioxidant-rich formula for, at the very least, two hours after your exercise session has finished.
Because of this, I don't time any of the recovery compounds I'm about to tell you about right after my exercise session.
As I alluded to earlier, the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio—even in healthy eaters such as Paleo dieters who are having bacon and avocado and eggs and meat and seeds and nuts—is way out of whack. Furthermore, based on a recent massive meta-analysis on the benefits of marine oils for cardiovascular function and just for general heart health, I'm a huge fan of taking an omega-3 fatty acids supplement, or fish oil. I take a pretty decent amount of fish oil too, about eight grams a day (which is still nowhere near what the omega dose of 20 to 40 grams that a guy like Charles Poliquin, may he rest in peace, would have recommended). But still, it is a little bit higher than the one to two grams that most people take. As someone who tests my blood and biomarkers on a quarterly basis, my omega-3 fatty acid index is stellar in terms of my omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio and my overall amount of omega-3s.
The one that I use right now is Kion Omega and the reason being because the EPA to DHA ratio is really good. It's very close to a 1:1 EPA to DHA ratio. And then, they add some plant essential oils that are also very important—particularly, rosemary as well as astaxanthin to keep the fish oil from being oxidized.
I still, as everyone should, keep my fish oil in the refrigerator so that it can't be oxidized by heat. But I still like the idea of a fish oil having added antioxidants to keep the fish oil from getting rancid. They also add a plant-based oil to give it more of a full-spectrum fatty acid profile.
I take anywhere from two to four capsules of Kion Omega with breakfast because a fat-based supplement should be taken with a meal.
The other recovery supplement that I use that I would put into the category of managing a natural inflammatory response is Kion Flex. If you listen to “Q&A 406: Recovery & Injury Hacks, The Best Way To Combine Sauna & Cold, How To Know If Your Nervous System Is Recovered & Much More!” or read my article “Biohacking Recovery: The Big Problem With Curcumin, What To Use Instead, & A Brand New Formula For Blasting Your Recovery Through The Roof.” you can learn all about the secret (ok, maybe not so secret) ingredient in Kion Flex, turmerosaccharides, which are better absorbed than curcumin and act far more quickly. It's also got an Ayurvedic component in it, called Haritaki which has some really unique health benefits for joint function. And then, the final component is proteolytic enzymes. Proteolytic enzymes help to break down some of the proteins in your bloodstream after you've exercised. The other cool thing about that is it can double up in a pinch as a digestive enzyme. If you take it when you consume a protein-rich meal, it can also help out with some of the breakdowns of those proteins.
The final piece of my recovery arsenal that would also fall into the performance category is essential amino acids (EAAs). I know many people are now using collagen, but I think essential amino acids—when it comes to maintaining muscle, building muscle, and assisting with recovery—are far superior (and far superior to branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) which are, essentially, just a boatload of leucine and isoleucine that can create insulin dysregulation and spike blood sugar).
I'm a much bigger fan of getting all of the essential amino acids: tryptophan, lysine, methionine, valine, leucine, isoleucine, threonine, and phenylalanine. You can take these even if you're in a fasted state without an insulin spike so you can maintain muscle during a fasted workout.
How do I time them?
I like to take 10 to 20 grams pre- or post-workout because the research on amino acid shows that when you work out with high blood levels of amino acids, you get a far better workout. If I haven't had a meal prior to my big hard work out of the day, I know my blood amino acids are not going to be that high, so I'll use something like Kion Aminos to get my blood levels of amino acids high before I actually go and do my work out. EAAs can also be used to reduce appetite cravings as well as to support cognition because of the neurotransmitter effect. Aminos are one of our top-selling supplements at Kion, probably because they're like a shotgun for just about everything.
If there's one area of my body that I tended to have issues with—due to everything from parasite and yeast and fungal infections from me going all over the globe to swimming in dirty water during races in Thailand, India, and Vietnam for over a decade—it was my gut.
There's basically a whole host of issues I exposed myself to that really did a number on my gut, and me being raised on a traditional Western diet probably didn't help much either. So, what do I do for my gut?
The first thing I do is I take colostrum every morning on an empty stomach. Here's a little trick: let the colostrum sit in your mouth for a little while because the enzymes in your mouth will actually help to make it more bioavailable and activate a lot of the growth factors in the colostrum that can then go forward and help out your immune system.
Colostrum is basically going to supply you with cytokines, which are the messengers that help your immune cells communicate and also provide you with lactoferrin, which assists with iron absorption. (This is really crucial for athletes and is also a very big part of your immune defense system and the healing process for your gut.) Colostrum has every immunoglobulin in it: IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG, IgM. These are amazing for not only supporting the immune system, but also helping the gut—especially if you've had things like leaky gut, or mold or mycotoxin exposure.
Colostrum also contains polypeptides, which are immune system regulators that encourage the growth of white blood cells. So, if you have a low white blood cell count, this can be extremely helpful. Polypeptides also help to defend against oxidative stress and support brain health. Colostrum has also been shown in athletes—before completing a workout in the excessive heat—to reduce gut permeability that's caused by heavy exercise. It can also improve the functions of gut permeability (protecting you from a leaky gut).
The next thing that I take is digestive enzymes. As an athlete and an exercise enthusiast, I'm eating, in many cases, 4,000+ calories a day so I need that digestive enzyme support. Also, as you age, your ability to be able to digest proteins and fats tends to decrease, so having that extra support is helpful.
I notice a huge difference as far as my energy levels, fatigue, my poops, and my digestive function when I'm using digestive enzymes. The kind I use are from a company called BiOptimizers. I've had these guys on my podcast before, you can listen to it here. They have one digestive enzyme formula called MassZymes that contains five different kinds of protease, and I pop four of them anytime I'm consuming a protein-rich meal.
Now, when it comes to fat-rich meals such as my morning smoothie or my lunch with all the sardines and avocados or anchovies or mackerel or herring or some seeds and nuts, I also take a different supplement from BiOptimizers that was designed to break down fat called kApex. (I also have an interview on kApex you can listen to here.) Oh, and if it's something like dinner, which a lot of times for me includes a lot of proteins and fats, I'll just pop four MassZymes as well as two kApex.
Another supplement from BiOptimizers that I have is called Gluten Guardian which is basically just an enzyme called peptidase that breaks down gluten. Now, I don't eat a lot of gluten, but when I do—even if it's my wife's slow-fermented sourdough bread which, admittedly, has a lot of the gluten deactivated because that's what the fermentation process does—I pop four Gluten Guardian. I also always travel with them because I go out to eat, I go to steakhouses, I go to business meetings—and a lot of times, that bread basket comes out, and I'm a human being. Again, this isn't something I use all the time, but maybe the one or two times a week in which I actually have gluten.
The other thing I do for my gut is I take something at least once per day that was designed to help to heal the gut from the ravages of glyphosate. Even though I eat organic, there's a lot of glyphosate contamination in many foods that is simply unavoidable. Also, when I'm out at a restaurant, a lot of times I can't avoid eating conventional produce. And so, there is this supplement called Ion Biome. It used to be called “Restore,” but they changed their name recently to Ion. It was developed by my friend, Dr. Zach Bush. There's been a ton of research done on this supplement. It's basically lignite, and lignite acts kind of like colostrum to strengthen the tight junctions in your gut lining, but it was specifically designed to help to protect your gut against glyphosate.
If you're in the U.S., you should be especially concerned about the amount of glyphosate used on the crops over here. My kids and I both take a shot of this at least once a day. It's best timed before a meal, especially before a meal for which you're concerned about glyphosate exposure. You can get little travel versions to keep on you while you're, say, at a restaurant; but they also have big, at-home bottles that you can keep in your fridge.
I also take a probiotic if I am traveling and unable to eat a lot of fermented foods or, at least, not as many fermented foods as I do when I'm at home. At home, I eat things like miso, tempeh, natto, kimchi, sauerkraut, and homemade yogurt—all wonderful forms of probiotics.
Probiotics are great for the immune system, and the specific one I use has pomegranate extract in it which is great for helping your gut microbes produce something called urolithin A—which is a longevity enhancing compound. It also contains the L. reuteri form of bacteria, which, in and of itself, is wonderful for oxytocin, general wellness, hair health, skin health, and much more. You may have heard me talk in the past about Dr. William Davis's homemade coconut yogurt recipe where you take L. reuteri capsules, blend it in with coconut milk, and dehydrate it or put in the oven at about a hundred degrees to create your own homemade yogurt to get that concentrated L. reuteri.
If you don't want to go through all those steps, a probiotic made by a company called Seed is, in my opinion, the best formulated probiotic out there. I take three of these when I take my colostrum because I like to get the probiotics and the colostrum in my system simultaneously. It's like giving my gut some love right when I wake up and/or at the end of the day. Seed probiotics can be on an empty or a full stomach.
For my immune system, I take something that is anti-parasitic, antifungal, and antibacterial—and that is oregano. Oregano contains something called carvacrol, which really helps to support a healthy immune response. It's fantastic as an herbal remedy for parasites, yeast, fungus, and so on.
I used to only take oregano while traveling on airplanes or in areas where I needed assisted immune support, but now I take it as a daily tonic. The way that I do it is when I wake up I have this big glass mason jar of water, and in that water, I add a couple of dropper fulls of Kion Oregano Oil. It just kind of cleans out my system at the beginning of the day.
Finally, there's sleep. Basically, when it comes to sleep supplements, there are just a few things I take—essentially three staples that I swear by for deep sleep.
That being said, I'm admittedly a bit of a sleep princess, and you can check out my entire sleep protocol here.
But back to supplements…Number one is CBD, which I absolutely love for sleep. Now, you do need a pretty hefty dosage—somewhere in the realm of 40 to 100 milligrams. Smaller doses of CBD such as five to ten milligrams are great for controlling stress or even improving awakeness and alertness during the day, but larger doses work like gangbusters for sleep.
There are a lot of brands of CBD out there I know, and the selection can be dizzying. The three I have around and take most frequently are Thorne, Element Health, and BioCBD. Thorne has a really good one called Hemp Oil+. Element Health that has a really powerful full spectrum CBD liquid that you want to put in your mouth and hold for about one to two minutes. You get better absorption when you're bypassing digestion and just absorbing it straight through the mucosal membrane in the mouth. BioCBD blends CBD with some other Ayurvedic formulas that help you to relax.
The other supplement that I use for sleep is magnesium. A lot of people, due to the mineral and soil depletion issues I was talking about earlier or the activity levels, are deficient in magnesium. I recently interviewed Dr. Mercola, and we had a big discussion about how magnesium can also protect yourselves from the calcium influx that occurs in response to exposure to things like 5G and Wi-Fi, and dirty electricity, which affects the calcium channels on your cells to cause an influx of calcium. (Stay tuned for this podcast which has not been released yet.)
Oh, and as an added bonus with magnesium, if you take it before bed, you'll have some remarkable bowel movements the next day, trust me on this one. I use a brand by Jigsaw Health called MagSRT. It uses magnesium malate, which is very well absorbed. I take four of those before bed, but if I'm traveling (I tend to get a little bit more stressed out and constipated when I travel), I'll double that.
I don't know about you, but sometimes I'll wake up around 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning, and I like to have something on my bedside that helps me get back to sleep and specifically something that has some kind of inhibitory neurotransmitter in it.
There are two that I like for instances like this. One is made by a company called Quicksilver Scientific. It's called Lipocalm. It's this tasty little spray that you squirt into your mouth when you wake up. I do about four or five squirts, hold my mouth, and just kind of lower myself back to sleep within about five to ten minutes.
I fluctuate between that and this other one called Sleep Remedy, made by Dr. Kirk Parsley. He designed Sleep Remedy for hard-charging Navy SEALs to get to sleep faster at night. If I'm using CBD and magnesium, I can fall asleep pretty well, but if I wake up, I will use this Sleep Remedy or Lipocalm to help myself get back to sleep quickly.
When I'm traveling—I'm more amped up, there's more Wi-Fi in the hotel room, I'm getting exposed to more blue light at night, I'm just not in my element—I actually will take that stuff before I go to sleep. And then, I also keep an extra on my bedside should I wake up in the middle of the night.
I'm constantly getting questions like, “But, Ben, what about that one thing? You did a podcast on that one time. Are you still taking that?” I put all that stuff in the category of things I experiment with that may or may not stick.
Everything I just talked to you about, these are things that have stuck for me, supplements that I've just found to be a “hell, yes” you could say. But then, there are other things that I'm currently in experimentation phase with…
One example of that would be peptides. You've heard me talk about peptides a lot—Tesamorelin for fat loss and muscle gain, BPC-157 for inflammation. (By the way, I'm now using an oral form of BPC-157 that I found to be extremely effective, especially for gut health.) I started using peptides over the past year, and a year might seem a long time, but I can't say that they're one of those things that—like the stuff that I just went through—I would universally recommend.
If you're interested in learning more, you could check out some of the many podcasts and articles in which I've covered peptides:
- Peptides Unveiled: The Best Peptide Stacks For Anti-Aging, Growth Hormone, Deep Sleep, Hair Loss, Enhanced Cognition & Much More!
- The Dark Side Of Peptides: Why You Need To Proceed With Caution When Using These Powerful But Potentially Carcinogenic Molecules.
- The Peptides Podcast: Everything You Need To Know About Anti-Aging, Muscle Gain, Fat Loss & Recovery Peptides.
- How To Use BPC-157: A Complete Dummies Guide To Healing The Body Like Wolverine.
- How To Use Growth Hormone Stacks For A Better Body: Everything You Need To Know About IGF-LR3, GHRP, and GHRH Peptide Stacks.
- The Little-Known Russian Wonder Compound & The Fringe Future Of Anti-Aging Medicine
As far as putting together a peptide protocol though, I think the best advice I could give is for you to check out the International Peptide Society website and find a physician near you or one you can phone or Skype consult with—someone who can look at your blood, your biomarkers, your genetic data, etc., and put together a peptide protocol that is customized to you.
Just don't go to some random Chinese website and grab a bunch of peptides and start injecting yourself. Peptides should be almost considered closer to medication, or something you do under the supervision of a physician, because they're extremely targeted, very powerful, and work remarkably well by targeting specific cell receptors in a laser-like fashion.
Another one I'm experimenting with right now is C60. Basically, it's an antioxidant that's almost 300 times stronger than vitamin C that has anticancer effects, according to Ian Mitchell when I interviewed him on my podcast. C60 helps to counteract the effect of damaging free radicals on the body, reduces all-cause of mortality in rodent models, can have a little bit of an anti-aging effect for wrinkles, and can support the detoxification pathways in the liver. It's an impressive little antioxidant, and I've been experimenting with taking it—because it's more of a fat-based supplement—with my smoothie in the morning.
Admittedly, I haven't done a lot of blood testing or self-quantification yet on that one. But, it's another perfect example, in addition to peptides, of something I'm currently experimenting with but that may not necessarily be perfect for everybody.
Phew! Okay, I know that might seem like a lot, but some people—a lot of longevity enthusiasts I've interviewed—are taking upwards of 100 different supplements, so I think what I've just described is fairly manageable.
Will everything I mentioned work as well for you as it does for me? Maybe, maybe not.
In my new book, Boundless, I have some really interesting sections on how you can test your blood and biomarkers to figure out what type of diet or supplementation program is right for you.
Just as I wrote this article, I wrote Boundless to be a book that doesn't give you a fish, but teaches you how to fish. It'll become the last resource you'll ever need for answering questions like “What diet should I be on? What supplementation program should I be on? What does this supplement do? What does that peptide do?” Boundless is your key to becoming a self-quantification expert and being able to take more of a precision approach to supplementation and the foods you eat. You can pre-order here.
So what do you think? Which supplements have you found to be personally useful? Do you think supplements are a waste of money? Do you have questions about other supplements folks have recommended to you? Leave your questions, comments, and feedback in the comments section below!