Conventional physicians fail to recognize the significance of medical-grade supplements, or nutraceuticals, for optimal aging. As a Functional Medicine physician, Dr. Maryann Prewitt knows better. The philosophy behind nutraceuticals is not simply to focus on prevention but also to optimize your body at the cellular level to fight disease and prevent cancer. At HealthWellnessMD in Dallas, Texas, nutraceuticals play a critical part in our recommendations to patients. You can use these medical-grade supplements to improve a broad range of health concerns from thyroid health and weight management to autoimmune disorders and heart disease.
Approximately 2,500 years ago, Greek physician Hippocrates wrote: Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. Food and its nutrients play a crucial role in helping our body function at its best. The healing properties of food throughout history and across cultures are well documented. Yet, instead of looking to food for answers, modern physicians routinely prescribe a pill to cure whatever ails you. And with any pill, we know there are untold side effects, ranging from the mild to the extreme—despite the fact that we know that the right food, or medical-grade supplements, may even replace some of your daily prescriptions and the side effects that come with it.
As a Functional Medicine practitioner, Dr. Prewitt address nutritional imbalances the same way she treats all concerns, by first looking to the root cause.
How important is diet?
Now food cannot fix everything, but it’s a good place to start. The principle of “first do no harm” is not something that Dr. Prewitt takes lightly. So, looking first to nutrition seems a natural place to start. Many fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed whole foods have properties that can benefit our health. And, while we would love to tell you that you can acquire all of the vital nutrients that you need from food sources, this is simply not the case. The modern food supply has been altered to maximize production and yield for commercial value. As a result, the nutritional value of natural foods has been compromised: today, you’d have to eat seven bowls of fresh spinach to equal the nutrition of one bowl of spinach forty years ago.
What are nutraceuticals?
This is where nutraceuticals come in. The term “nutraceutical” combines two words – “nutrient” (a nourishing food component) and “pharmaceutical” (a medical drug). Nutraceuticals is a broad umbrella term that is used to describe any product derived from food sources with extra health benefits in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foods. Think of them as non-pharmaceutical therapies used to promote general wellbeing, control symptoms, and prevent disease and malignant processes. Recent research on chemicals in plants, called phytonutrients, have been a specific focus for the benefits they may afford in cancer prevention, cholesterol reduction, and hormone regulation, among others.
Dr. Prewitt often tells her patients that we are now astronauts on planet earth; and, like astronauts, we must also supplement our food.
Nutritional Support for Optimal Hormonal Health
At HealthWellnessMD, we encourage all of our patients to optimize their hormones for longevity as well as to improve their quality of life. This means evaluating and treating any thyroid dysfunction and hormonal imbalances. To optimize testosterone and estrogen levels, we employ bio-identical hormone replacement with pellet therapy from BioTE Medical. And for thyroid problems, we prescribe thyroid hormone. However, for these interventions to succeed, patients need nutritional support and should supplement with medical-grade nutraceuticals. Hormones always need co-factors to work. Typically, these are vitamins and minerals that help the hormones achieve their desired effects in the cell.
Dr. Prewitt’s Top Picks
If you could only make 6 changes to your diet via supplementation, these are Dr. Prewitt’s recommendations:
- Vitamin D: Bet you didn’t know that low-D can lead to heart attacks.
- Iodine: Bet you didn’t know that iodine detoxes you at the cellular level.
- Probiotics: Bet you didn’t know that a healthy gut makes serotonin, your feel-good hormone
- Methyl-Guard: Bet you didn’t know methylation rids your body of toxins.
- DIM: Bet you didn’t know that DIM is anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-aging.
- Multivitamin: Bet you didn’t know that you really need this one – nutrients are markedly depleted in our food.
How To Choose Nutraceuticals
Over recent years, an increasing number of supplements have become available in supermarkets, health food stores, and in pharmacies. Many, if not most, of these products make claims that are not substantiated by research or even anecdotal evidence. Nutraceuticals do not necessarily fall into the better-known categories of vitamins, amino acids, and herbal remedies. Their role in the future of human nutrition is an exciting and ongoing area of investigation with promising potential to improve your health without resorting to pharmaceuticals.
The biggest challenge patients face is the huge amount of contradictory or inaccurate information with regards to nutritional supplements. With so many choices and, often, very little oversight in their manufacture, choosing the safest and most effective nutraceuticals is key.
Buyer Beware! Only medical-grade nutraceuticals are safe and effective. For my patients, Dr. Prewitt recommends supplements from Thorne Research and BioTE Medical. Take the time to do your homework.