I recently returned from the Natural Health Products Expo West, where I learned some interesting things. One of those is that if you want to get the real hardcore health information, the hidden treasures of the natural healthcare community, you have to get face to face with the innovative small business owners, the pioneering doctors and researchers, and others who are pushing the envelope of health and nutrition.
If you want to really understand the potential of products in the natural health industry, in terms of both functional foods and nutritional foods, you have to talk face to face with these people. And that's one of the things I did at this show, conducting well over 30 interviews with various individuals -- pioneering doctors, researchers, clinicians, people who formulate nutritional supplement products, people who are inventing new technologies for nutrient delivery systems -- all sorts of innovative people who represent the real future of health in the western world.
Many of the best health products, I've learned, simply aren't found in distribution channels (health food stores, namely). If you go out to a health food store and look at the products on the shelf, even though those products may represent a very large number of nutrient companies and a variety of innovative products, they still are only the tip of the iceberg. There are so many more products available than what you see on the store shelves.
At this show, I also learned about a trend towards making superfood products (and especially green food products) more palatable. The industry uses the term "compliance." When a customer has good compliance, they stay on the program; they keep taking the supplements or the vitamins or eating the superfoods. Accordingly, this is also a term used by physicians and doctors. Compliance is lacking with many of the potent nutritional supplements out there, from green foods to whole food concentrates. People may try a product for a little while, but if it doesn't taste the way they want it to taste, or if it's difficult for them to swallow, their compliance is going to be very poor and they won't stick with that supplement. Then it's no good, because if you're not getting it into your body, then it's doing you no good at all. It doesn't make you healthy to buy a product and have it sit on a shelf in your home or in your pantry, obviously.
That's why there are some exciting things going on in terms of making these products more palatable. One example is a new brand product offered by Enzymatic Therapy, called Earth's Promise. Earth's Promise is a green food or superfood supplement made of nutrient-rich food concentrates, including various vegetable powders, fruit powders, green tea and seaweed. Plus, there's fiber as well. This is one of the best tasting green foods products I've tried. Earth's Promise tastes so good that I can just drink it straight with water, without grimacing. You can put it in water, or as I sometimes like to do, put some oats in a bowl, add a little bit of stevia for sweetener, and then put in a couple of tablespoons Earth's Promise to make what I call purple oatmeal. It's purple because I'm using the elderberry flavor of Earth's Promise.
The only downside to Earth's Promise is that it's pricey. Dollar for dollar, you get a lot more nutrition in other green foods products, but then again, the good taste of this product may very well be worth it.
I've been a consistent proponent of superfoods and green foods, as I've used this product category to transform my own health, and I've seen what it can do in other people's lives. I've seen the tremendous difference it makes in terms of protecting the nervous system from degenerative damage, and in reversing diabetes and cancer. I've seen superfoods do some incredible things.
But for a lot of people, the foods I've been recommended are difficult to handle. They don't taste very good, especially if you've come off of a standard Western diet high in refined sugars, refined carbohydrates, white flour, and so on. People are not used to tasting anything bitter on their tongues, whether we're talking about alfalfa, wheat grass, spirulina, chlorella, or any of the other superfoods. They take one taste, and say, "Oh my God! How am I going to drink this!?" Or they say, "I'd rather die than drink this green drink!" Unfortunately, that may very well be the case. However, with a product like Earth's Promise, they don't have to go through all that torture to get a great tasting, highly potent, nutrient dense superfood into their body. They can just go out and buy Earth's Promise, which is available at just about any health food store that carries popular brands of nutritional supplements.
It comes in several different flavors. I like the elderberry and kiwi strawberry flavors, and they also have peppermint flavor. By the way, just to mention for those who don't know, this is not a solicited testimonial or an infomercial; there's no payola here. I have not been paid a dime by Earth's Promise, nor did I receive any free samples other than what everyday people got at the trade show. In fact, I just went out tonight and bought myself $63 worth of this product right off the shelf of the health food store. So, again, I'm covering this product because I believe in it... and I feel passionate about what this product can do for people in terms of compliance.
Now, I do believe there are other superfoods that are more nutrient dense than Earth's Promise. The Ultimate Meal is more nutrient dense in terms of getting more green foods into each serving. Miracle Greens is an outstanding product, as is Garden of Life, a supergreens product with a more potent nutrient recipe. But these products also have a stronger taste than Earth's Promise. Earth's Promise product just goes down easier, so it's easier for people to continue taking on a regular basis. If you've been experimenting with some of those other products I've mentioned, and you find you're not taking them on a regular basis, maybe you should explore Earth's Promise. It's a product I think almost everyone can take on a regular basis without making funny faces when they're drinking it -- or eating it, as in the case of purple oatmeal.
Drink your vitamins
Back to the issue of making supplements more palatable to customers: this was a big trend at the show. A company called Ola Loa offered another example of the new trend with their slogan, "Drink your vitamins." Here's a case where a nutrient-rich vitamin formula is very easy to drink; it tastes something like a sports drink, and has just a little bit of fructose and stevia in it. It's not too sweet, and it has no artificial ingredients -- no artificial colors, preservatives, sucralose, aspartame, or artificial chemical sweeteners healthy people already know to avoid.
It's a great product. I've tasted it myself, and I think it is a great way to get nutrients into your body. And the important thing about drinking your vitamins is that in Western societies, the older we get, the harder it becomes for us to digest and break down foods and assimilate their nutrients into our bodies. This is especially true in nursing home patients or senior citizens. I used to volunteer at a nursing home, so I know what it's like; I've seen these people, and many of them -- in fact, I would say the vast majority -- are malnourished. They are often still malnourished, even though they are consuming enough food matter and vitamin matter to eliminate deficiencies. The problem is that they are not digesting those nutrients.
But with a product like the Ola Loa, their digestive system doesn't have to do as much work. Some of these vitamins go into the bloodstream right in the mouth. In fact, some vitamins are assimilated right there in the mouth, in the saliva under the tongue. And once you swallow, they don't have proteins and fats that need to be physically broken down through the churning of the stomach. Basically, the nutrients from Ola Loa are very easy to get to. They are readily absorbed through the walls of the small intestine, into the bloodstream where they go to work creating positive health effects.
By the way, one of the ingredients in this product is a relatively high dosage of CoQ10. I was impressed when I saw this, because CoQ10 is such a crucial nutrient today, especially for older people. Many of the prescription drugs that are now being doled out to elderly patients inhibit the production of CoQ10. CoQ10 is essential for allowing the mitochondria in each of our bodies' cells to engage in the energy reactions that they need to stay alive. Without CoQ10, you would die in a matter of minutes.
Yet statin drugs, for example, inhibit the production of CoQ10 by interfering with the normal, healthy function of the liver. So when people try to lower their cholesterol with statin drugs, they often end up with a chronic deficiency of CoQ10. Many times, sadly, their doctors don't even tell them that they need to supplement CoQ10, which is one of the most important things a person needs to do when taking statin drugs. Of course, the number one thing they need to do is find ways to get off of statin drugs, and there are many easy ways to do that, frankly, through superfoods and nutrition, including eating blueberries, engaging in physical exercise, and so on. And with Ola Loa's "drink your vitamins," people can get CoQ10 into their bodies so that even if they choose to stay on statin drugs for some reason, at least they can help supplement some of the CoQ10 they desperately need in order to maintain normal, healthy metabolism and human physiological functions.
Distribution is the challenge for vitamin makers
If you go to a show like this, and you talk to the 1,700-plus vendors offering products, you begin to realize that the big bottleneck for these vendors is distribution. They need to get into the retail channels to really sell products. It's difficult for them to find customers, so they rely on shelf space to get in front of people. Of course, it's a solid, proven strategy. It works.
The problem is that there's only so much shelf space at every health food store or natural grocery store. While there might be 1,000 products competing for every shelf, there are only maybe 100 products that can actually physically fit on that shelf. As a result, these companies, many of which have innovative products, are not represented in the market. Even the companies that succeed in getting distribution are not well represented. And I think that you, as a consumer, need to know of the tremendous difference in price between manufacturing price and retail price.
The manufacturing price of the product may typically only be 20 percent of the retail price you are paying when it's in distribution at a health food store or natural grocery. Let me break these numbers down for you: Let's say some supplement manufacturing company makes a product that retails for $10. They are going to sell the product to the channel -- to the health food stores, or the grocery stores, or the distributors -- for about $5. So, that's 50 percent of the product price, or a 100 percent markup from the point of view of the health food store.
Now, of course, the manufacturer of the product needs to make money, so they might have 100 percent markup on their own price as well. To them, their manufacturing cost might only be $2.50. This means that a product that retails for $10 in the channel, on the shelf at the health food store, may only cost $2.50 to make.
Now, I'm not saying this to discredit the channel or any of the pricing mentioned here. In fact, I'm a strong supporter of health food stores, and I believe in local distribution of these products. The fact is, you are paying for the convenience of having these products inventoried locally. If you want to get in your car and drive out to a health food store, and buy products right off the shelf, you are in essence paying for the convenience of doing that. You're supporting the infrastructure, the cost of inventory, the cost of real estate to rent that location, the cost of personnel to ring it up for you and serve you as a customer, and so on. This is all built in to that markup.
Along the distribution chain, not everybody's making a whole lot of money. Many health food stores are discounting off of that retail price, so they're not necessarily making the full $5 off that, and they have distributors to pay as well. There might be a distributor in the middle, meaning that the retailers can actually get squeezed pretty thin on this. Retailers often scramble for any kind of a decent profit margin, and they've got all the overhead as well. I'm not against the channel and all its overhead, but I want to make you, as a consumer, aware that it exists.
Some supplement companies sell direct to customers
There are supplement companies that can sell direct to you, and you're almost always going to get better pricing or better value for your dollar through them. For example, there's one vitamin company called Swanson vitamins. And Swanson, which is located in North Dakota, manufactures and distributes its own line of vitamins and supplement products directly to consumers. They are not in the channel, and as a result, they offer tremendous value in terms of the ingredients you're getting for the dollar you're spending.
Other small companies are not in the channel either. They sell directly and offer a much better value. That's why their supergreens product is the best value in the industry, in terms of how much money you spend versus how much product you actually get for it. And again, there are many, many other companies out there and Truth Publishing will be listing many of those companies so that you as a reader, or a consumer, can more easily find those companies and order from them directly, getting the best value possible. I think it's really important to support the small businesses in this industry, because small companies often have the most passion about their products.
Dr. Bronner's Soap
I recall the Dr. Bronner's Soap Company. At this trade show, I interviewed both David Bronner (one of the grandsons of the original founder, Dr. Bronner), and Ralph Bronner as well. This family has held their company together as a small family-owned company with great determination and courage over the years. They have worked hard to protect it from competing companies' buyout offers, which tried to turn it into a corporate profit center. They resisted all that. As a result, they are a much better company today in terms of having purpose in the world and providing a quality, honest product to consumers.
They managed to accomplish it through the channel, by the way. They are in distribution, and that's phenomenal given the cost of ingredients they put into their product. I think the only reason that the Dr. Bronner Soap Company has been able to do that is because they stuck with their faith, determination and courage to not just make money, but to make a difference. When you purchase products from companies like the Dr. Bronner Soap Company, or Heritage Products, which makes my number one recommended olive oil shampoo, you are supporting a system of good. You are supporting a system of small companies that really need to exist in this industry. We don't want this industry to be taken over by the big food giants and pharmaceutical giants. If I listed the number of companies out there making nutritional supplements that have pharmaceutical companies as their investors, you would fall over in shock. But it's true; these pharmaceutical companies invest money in many of the nutritional supplement companies out there, and they put people on their board of directors. The small companies that resist that kind of influence, like Dr. Bronner's Soap and the hundreds of others I talked to and saw their products at the show, are the real heart of the natural products industry.
Sponsored by a candy bar!
A great example of what happens with corporate sponsorship is found in one of the big sponsors of the Natural Products Expo, the Balance Bar Company. Personally, I think the Balance Bar has no business whatsoever being one of the primary sponsors of a natural health products
expo, because in my opinion, the Balance Bar product doesn't qualify as being natural or healthy. The ingredients in the Balance Bar are, after the protein blend: sugar, corn syrup, glycerin, high-maltose corn syrup, fractionated palm kernel oil, high fructose corn syrup, and even maltitol. So, let's get this straight here for a second. We have 6 ingredients after the protein blend, five of which are refined sweeteners.
This is the top sponsor of the Natural Health Products Expo. This is a show that's supposed to be about health. Is this a healthy product? Well, maybe the Balance Bar company would argue that "the Balance Bar can be part of a healthy diet," as all candy bar companies argue. Look, let's get real folks. Let's get honest. This is not a natural health product. To me, this is a candy bar with protein. That's all it is. And I think it belongs in the candy bar show, not in the natural products expo. I think we need to have a company like LaraBar sponsoring the Natural Health Products Expo. Now that would be a healthy bar. But of course LaraBar is a bar made by a small, passionate company that doesn't have the budget to spend a couple of hundred thousand dollars to be the number one sponsor of that show.
See, when you have Big Business come in and take over, you end up seeing this kind of thing. You see big sponsors, cheap ingredients, refined sweeteners and products that really aren't healthy anyway. And the Expo West organizers, I dare say, have sold out to the company with the most bucks. It's a credibility issue, and when you run a natural health products expo, your credibility gets sent to the dumps pretty quickly when your top sponsor is a bar loaded with refined sugars. Who do they think they're fooling with this? Maybe next we'll have cigarette companies sponsoring Lung Cancer conventions, too.
I hope that the Expo West organizers next year will make an effort to find sponsors that aren't so embarrassing to the natural health community.
Real health solutions exist right now
I've got to shift gears here and cover one last point before wrapping this up. It's the number one thing I learned at the show, through interviewing all of these doctors, alternative health practitioners, product formulators, researchers and so on (from all over the world, by the way, not just the United States). I learned that no one in our society needs to die of degenerative disease
; no one needs to die of cancer; no one needs to die of heart disease or diabetes; no one needs to waste their life away with Alzheimer's or dementia or Parkinson's disease. Every single one of these diseases is preventable through nutrition, through herbal supplements, through lifestyle changes, and through the avoidance of toxic ingredients in the food supply like hydrogenated oils and refined sugars.
Every person I talked to backed this up. They said we do not need to live in this kind of society, as we have the technology, the products, and the knowledge available right now. Right now, people can go out and get things that can prevent all of these diseases, if not outright reverse many of them. Some say even late stage diseases can be reversed with powerful medicinal mushrooms, superfoods, or innovative therapies that I'm not even going to detail here.
We do not have to have a society of degenerative disease. We do not have to live in a society of obesity and skyrocketing healthcare costs. We don't have to live in a society where our children can't focus, where their nervous systems are impaired because of the diets they're fed and the artificial foods and colors they're being served not only at home, but right there in the school cafeterias!
We don't have to live in that kind of society. And yet, we do at the moment; we still live in a society where junk food is served at hospitals, where unnecessary surgical procedures are performed every day around this country, where far too many doctors are still handing out dangerous, toxic, and proven deadly prescription drugs to patients rather than teaching them how to take responsibility for their own health.
Lasting health is within easy reach
Now more than ever, it's easier than ever to be healthy. You have these supergreens products that are now tastier than they've ever been, and you have new breakthrough technologies and formulations that provide much better absorbability and much greater deliverability of the vitamins to the human body. You have this incredible distribution channel of health food stores and natural grocers all around the country, and you have literally thousands of small, creative companies thinking up new ways to deliver products to the market so that people can benefit from them.
We've got companies out there doing things like selling goji berry juice, a fantastic super-antioxidant, and noni juice; you've got all these superfood juices and superfruits out there. You've got fantastic whole grains like quinoa ... all of this is available right now! And I bet you, wherever you are right now, you could walk outside your door, get in your car, go down to the health food store, and find nearly everything that you need to be healthy and prevent degenerative disease for the rest of your life.
So, why don't people do it? Why do we still live in a society where there's so much disease? The answer is that people don't know! The education effort hasn't reached these people yet. And there's no one invested in the education, because there's no money in education and preventing chronic disease. No pharmaceutical company makes profits by making people healthy. And, you know, guys like me and companies like Truth Publishing can only reach so many people. The reason we have a system of healthcare or disease care, and the reason we have a nation suffering from skyrocketing disease, is quite simple. People don't know; they have not been given the right to learn about solutions and to take responsibility for their own health outcome. In fact, more often than not, that right is taken away from them. It's taken away through the variety of ways in which conventional medicine steals a person's health power.
I wrote about this in the book Take Back Your Health Power, found at www.truthpublishing.com. The bottom line is that all the messages out there say, "Oh, your health problem is genetic," "You can't do anything about your health," or "You're too stupid to know anything about health." All these messages steal people's power, and in fact, they doom people to die; people die every day from prescription drugs.
Organized medicine is the number one cause of death in this country. At least 750,000 people are killed each and every year in the United States alone by organized medicine, and yet the solutions are out there right now, readily available. And the people who turn to those solutions see a health transformation taking place. They experience it and they get excited about it, and they start to share those stories with the people around them. Then, more people get on these products, they get excited about it, their health turns around, and their nervous systems wake up. Suddenly they have mental clarity, their memory returns, they feel more energized, they sleep better, their sexual function improves... the list goes on and on. And people get excited. Folks, this is why natural medicine is winning the war for the hearts and minds of the American people; it works! It will make you healthier, happier, and helps you live a longer, higher quality life.
And that's the number one lesson in all of this. I encourage you, whatever your current health challenges may be, whatever your current nutritional habits may be, challenge yourself to learn more. Empower yourself with the knowledge you need to be an informed health consumer who can take responsibility for your own health outcome and apply it in your own life, starting right now.
Get healthier one step at a time
Whatever you're doing right now is great, but I believe you can do more. You can learn more and you can improve your diet. There are probably some foods or beverages that you can eliminate over time, and there are probably some superfoods or supplements that you can add to your diet. There's always a way to be healthier, and it's not a huge chasm to cross. It's just one step forward. Do one thing better each and every day. You know, Tony Robbins talks about constant and never-ending improvement (CANI), and I believe that's a very valid concept. In fact, that's what I use in my own life; it's what I used to transform my own health, and that's what I encourage other people to do.
Don't think that it's some huge leap. It's not. It's just a small step forward, so take that step tomorrow. Go out, check out the Earth's Promise product, buy yourself some kind of supergreens product, get Garden of Life, Miracle Greens, the Ultimate Meal; try them all, and see which one you like the best. Make it work for you. Find a way to drink your vitamins or listen to the other audio programs available here. Educate yourself, and then make wise decisions about what you're putting into your body.
You can be healthy! And, if you are diseased right now, you can transform your health. I've done it myself, and I've met many other people who have done it. The only people who can't do it are those who give up and who surrender their power back to the doctors and the pharmaceutical companies. The way to give up and die is to just say, "Oh, forget it. I'm going to rely on the pharmaceutical companies. I'll take a bunch of pills. I'll let the doctor tell me what to do, and that's it." Those people are doomed.
Don't be one of those people. Be the person who says, "You know what? Conventional medicine may offer some things, but I'm going to explore more. I'm going to educate myself. I'm going to learn about superfoods, nutrition, nutritional supplements. I'm going to learn about dietary habits and the avoidance of metabolic disruptors in the food supply. I'm going to learn about the reduction of chronic stress. I'm going to learn about alternative therapies like homeopathy, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, chiropractic care, massage therapy..."
Educate yourself. You can transform your health one step at a time, one day at a time, starting with this very day, right now.
Because as I learned from the Expo West trade show, it's no longer an issue of not having access to health-enhancing products. All those products exist right now -- the very products that can prevent and even help reverse serious diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis and many more. The solutions are within your reach. It's just up to you to take the necessary action steps to benefit from them.
About the author: Mike Adams is a natural health author and award-winning journalist with a passion for sharing empowering information to help improve personal and planetary health He has authored and published thousands of articles, interviews, consumers guides, and books on topics like health and the environment, and he has published numerous courses on preparedness and survival, including financial preparedness, emergency food supplies, urban survival and tactical self-defense. Adams is an honest, independent journalist and accepts no money or commissions on the third-party products he writes about or the companies he promotes. In 2010, Adams launched TV.NaturalNews.com, a natural health video site featuring videos on holistic health and green living. He's also a successful software entrepreneur, having founded a well known email marketing software company whose technology currently powers the NaturalNews email newsletters. Adams also serves as the executive director of the Consumer Wellness Center, a non-profit consumer protection group, and enjoys outdoor activities, nature photography, Pilates and martial arts training. Known on the 'net as 'the Health Ranger,' Adams shares his ethics, mission statements and personal health statistics at www.HealthRanger.org
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