Saturday, May 12, 2018

Natural Health: How We Got Here, Where We’re Going


Natural Health: How We Got Here, Where We’re Going

In the 1980’s, the natural health industry was still an anomaly. The best-selling loaf of bread was Wonder Bread (though the “wonder” was more wondering how those ingredients could make bread). Lean Cuisine dinners and Sugar Free Jell-O were considered healthy options.

In the 1800’s, the idea of using chemicals in farming was proposed by Justus von Liebig, who noticed that certain chemical imbalances in soil affected soil fertility and lowered crop yields. However, farmers did not embrace “book farming,” and it fell out of favour until 1939. That year, Paul Müller discovered dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT, which was the most effective insecticide known to date. DDT was heavily used in World War II to control typhus; after the war, its use spread to farms and around the house, along with other war-manufactured products.

Following the chemical influence over food was supplementation of food. Food had become deficient in nutrition.  In the 1970’s, mainstream supplements like Centrum came out. Owned by Pfizer, Centrum has a huge advantage in the medical field, as they have the same access to doctors as Pfizer does. Ironically, though, despite this professional access, Centrum’s ingredient list contains more non-active ingredients than vitamins and minerals. Still, this trend of large corporations owning natural products has continued to dominate, and in 2013, the natural industry was worth over $109 billion. The features distinguishing truly natural products from “natural products” in name only have become more blurred, though. As of 2017, the US was considering the prospect of defining what is natural. Their definition consisted of 3 core ideas: origin, ingredients, and processing. The origin of the raw materials would encompass organic and non-GMO aspects. Ingredients would be free of artificial colours and flavours, preservatives, additives, pesticides, and hormones. Under the final aspect, processing, the level of processing would be minimal.

In Canada, Health Canada has set a standard of requirements for an item to be advertised as “natural.” The item should be in its original form, with no additives; the only thing that could be removed would be water. There should be no significant processing. Even if a products claims to contain “natural ingredients,” every ingredient must meet the “natural” requirement. However, it should be noted that “natural” does not mean free of pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or GMO’s. Plants and animals raised by conventional means will still contain those things, but can call themselves “natural” because they have not been altered. To truly be in the clear from those things, one would need to buy something that is certified organic.

Even natural flavours can be tricky. Though they can contain elements from natural sources, they can also contain many other things, too. A single flavour can contain up to 100 ingredients, including synthetic solvents, preservatives, and emulsifiers that allow ingredients to mix while maintaining the same flavour. One positive change that is forthcoming is the new requirement for manufacturers to list each individual colour used in their products by name—not simply “colour” or “natural colour,” as is the case now.
With natural food standards constantly changing with the times, it is difficult to keep up with what is truly natural and what is just parading as natural. The best way to ensure you do not have to stay on top of ever-changing regulations is to trust companies that have made their processes and intentions clear from the start. Life Choice is one of those companies.

In partnership with Optimyz magazine, we have just released a new behind-the-scenes look at our company in the June/July issue: where we started, what we’ve done since, and where we are going. There is also a brief product guide to help you and your customers determine which products might be right for them. We would encourage you to view the booklet here and use it as a guide not only to Life Choice, but also to the industry as a whole. We have seen what the industry standard was in the beginning, and it is apparent that the standards have devolved into something else entirely. We are proud to be one of the few still standing for the highest quality natural medicine.

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