What a weekend it was last week as over 7000 brands got together to show off their wares at the Natural Products Expo West. For the first time, food didn't dominate (although you wouldn't know it from the many food aisles exhibiting new and favorites foods). This gathering attracts the media, retailers, and also speakers for interactive discussions on the latest health trends. The following provides an overview of my finds as I scoured Expo to see what's new, what's different, what's worthy, all along the way asking the questions that you, the potential consumer or healthcare practitioner would want to know.
Get Smart? There were a lot of food products and beverages vying for our attention in the name of "smart" -- Octain Brain Bar, TonIQ, and Nawgan -- as well as Omega 3 fatty acid supplements for adults, kids, and babies. AKA take: What's really smart? Vegetarian sources of omega 3 fatty acids (Salba Smart, Ascenta's NutraVege, Barlean's vegan Omega Swirl), wild salmon (I like Organic Bistro's frozen meals and New Chapter's WholeOmega),
and eating ORGANIC apples -- (Earthbound Farm, YogaVive). A win-win for babies -- HappyBaby provides organic and uses Salba Smart in their formula.
And being smart doesn't just apply to the foods. You've heard of "Intel inside"? Well thanks to the antibacterial power of Thymol (key ingredient in CleanWell hand sanitizer), several environmental and human healthier cleaning products are now "powered by CleanWell" to give these products better results without the negatives of bleach and alcohol. Look for the lineup wherever you see Seventh Generation products. I've been using them at home with great results and feeling better about being toxin-free and earth friendly. And for truly "smart" water or tea, how about Takeya USA and LifeFactory bottles and BettiPot? You can get rid of plastic and provide safe ways to have glass containers that we can fill up and carry.
And even if you're smart, you still need energy, right? There were as many products purporting to provide energy as there were those selling smart. When it comes to energy, the AKA favorites were Gaia herbs Adrenal Health and Peter Gilham's E-28 supplements for their mostly organic ingredients and balance of nutrients. I also liked VegaSport and Terra's organic whey protein powders. Add them to an iced tea or coconut water for an energy inspiring protein drink. For added energy, I always recommend skipping the "energy" drinks or the caffeine and sugar shots, and going for greens (you can add them into your protein drink). I liked Ready-to-go Greens and New Chapter's Berry Greens as they are organic.
Tea Time: I loved seeing so many teas including new ways to conveniently have loose leaf teas, new flavor combinations, and the healing power of herbs. AKA favorites include any organic teas (Numi, Traditional Medicinals) and the new FairWild logo showing that Traditional Medicinal teas are grown fairly and use wild herbs.
In a world of gummies posing as supplements for kids, Peter Gilham's new kid multi stood out with the promise of "calm focus." A supplement that comes as a liquid multi and includes organic fruits and vegetables as well as magnesium ("calm") and plant-based DHA "'focus").
Safety -No place is it more important than in supplements and I loved playing with Gaia herbs' new computer program and iPhone app which allows me to check out everything on any herb they use, by using the product label # - where it came from, is it organic, etc.
Organic - not just for your food either. I sat on the Organic Matters panel led by Maria Rodale (author, Organic Manifesto). We talked about why organic matters - why "natural" and "local" can't guarantee the consumer a pesticide-free product; why doctors and dietitians alike should be PRESCRIBING organic, especially for pregnant women, kids, and anyone with disease. But it wasn't just about organic food at Expo. QAI launched its organic initiative for skincare in conjunction with NaTrue of Europe and the industry leaders like Weleda and Earth Mama Angel Baby will now have the NSF / ANSI 305 logo on their products... And as teen activist, Erin Schrode noted at the Fresh Ideas Group media panel that I moderated that what we put on our skin is as important as what we eat and drink.
And one year later, we see that gluten-free is growing up. Easily the biggest trend at last year's Expo, this year I was so pleased to see organic versions of gluten-free (Nature's Path and Mary's Gone Crackers stood out with great taste too). Organic should matter to anyone following a gluten-free diet to address disease or symptoms.
I'll conclude with some random but noteworthy:
Camels? I think not. Navitas Naturals launches organic Camu camu from South America.
Vegetarian proteins included all things hemp (NaturesPath cereal), non-soy (Daiya cheese), and nuts, cereals, and salad toppers from Living Intentions.
How about an organic version of Ensure? MD-developed, Orgain, provides organic ingredients as a meal replacement option. I felt it has too much sugar but welcome the nutrient quality compared to competitors.
From JetLag to cold / flu relief, homeopathy offers relief in a way that's safe for kids and adults alike. I'm taking my JetLag kit when I travel and sent two colleagues to the Boiron booth for Chestal to help their coughs during the show.
Until next year....