An Introduction to Health Supplements and Powders

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From green juice and kombucha to coconut oil and bee pollen, Vancouverites are seemingly always keen to try the next edible wellness wonder. So it’s time to step aside, bone broth, because there’s a new trend in town: natural supplements and powders.

As much as that warm cappuccino is a great way to start the day, many Vancouverites are turning to an alternative beverage that is just as satisfying and energizing: a turmeric latte. “Turmeric is a superfood,” explains Karen Danudjaja, co-founder of Vancouver-based latte-mix producer Blume. “It’s an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, mood stabilizer, and immune system booster.” She sips on a drink made with her turmeric mix at Elysian on Burrard Street. “For a lot of people, it still needs some explanation,” she continues. “’Latte’ is a bit confusing because for most people, that’s coffee. But what I grew up with didn’t taste like this.” Danudjaja’s father is Indonesian, and when she was feeling sick as a child, he would make her a turmeric ginger concoction. So, when Danudjaja and Ella Dalling teamed up to launch Blume, they knew they wanted to make healthy drinks more accessible by creating mixes that were as delicious as they were good for the body. Blume’s turmeric latte powder with cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom is not only caffeine-free, but also vegan, organic, and gluten-free. And that isn’t Blume’s only offering: the Beetroot Latte Mix has been flying off shelves thanks to its antioxidant and vitamin C properties, and a new cacao turmeric flavour features ashwagandha: a natural anxiety remedy perfect for those days when things need to slow down.

“Things like maca and ashwagandha are really beneficial for a lot of people,” says registered holistic nutritionist Kate Horsman, reflecting in her office in Gastown. Ashwaganda is just one of many adaptogens getting a lot of attention as of late, especially in Vancouver. “An adaptogen is an herb or food source that adapts to your stress state,” Horsman explains. “So, consider if you’re in a low-energy state, they can help to bring you up.” Improving digestion and strengthening the immune system, adaptogens are natural agents that help normalize bodily functions. At Vancouver’s Nectar Juicery, four adaptogen drink blends are offered, including the Immunity Latte: an immune-modulating beverage supplemented with a mushroom trio of reishi, chaga, and cordyceps. “They’re really adapting to your body’s needs,” Horsman says of adaptogens. “Their name really says what they do.”

One of the biggest names on the adaptogen scene is California-based Sun Potion. Described as “transformational foods,” these plant and fungi powders are sold in beautiful jars and are intended to be mixed into food and drinks. Along with Nectar, Sun Potion’s Vancouver stockists include Kerrisdale’s India Rose Cosmeticary. “People are not only looking for more natural alternatives, but the idea of skin care and beauty starting from within,” owner India Daykin says, picking up Sun Potion’s Yin Power, an energetically charged formulation featuring organic and wild herbs to nourish feminine energy and harmonize the body. “Much of skin care stems from what’s going on inside you. It’s your largest organ and that’s a reflection of everything else.”

Speaking of skin care, something worth adding to one’s daily beauty regime is collagen. The most abundant protein in the human body, collagen gives strength and structure to bones, muscles, skin, and tendons. The older (and more stressed) we get, the sooner collagen production slows, resulting in signs of aging such as wrinkles and weaker joints. Jennifer Aniston swears by collagen supplements. So does Busy Philipps. Japanese women have been taking collagen for years to maintain their flawless complexions; Mitsuwa Health’s Collagen Pure is a product of Japan that offers hydrolyzed collagen in the form of a tasteless powder, meaning it can be easily mixed into water, juice, or tea. Or there is Vancouver-based WithinUs, which has an antioxidant powerhouse in the form of its Matcha Misto + Collagen, a blend of the brand’s TruMarine Collagen with an organic grade A matcha.

And shaking up the supplement game is Toronto’s Well Told Health, which creates clean pills (no synthetics or fillers) crafted purely from organic botanicals. These unique formulations include the Energy Booster, made from rhodiola rosea, matcha, beets, and maca to increase mental focus and stamina.

Of course, incorporating powders and pills into a daily ritual is not for everyone—but there are other ways to ingest these products. Brands like Richmond’s Herbaland are making things easy and delicious with healthy nutritional gummies for adults. From strawberry ones providing antioxidants for the maintenance of eye health, to a sweet goji berry version to support overall wellbeing (especially for hair, skin, and nails), Herbaland’s sugar-free vitamins are sure to make conscious living a little sweeter. And for those looking to add more greens to their diet, Sugarfina has created “green juice” gummy bears. Born out of an April Fool’s prank in 2016, the candy company decided to go all the way with the concept when consumers started calling in looking for the treat that promised to deliver vitamins A and C. Inspired by Pressed Juicery, these gummies are made with apple, lemon, ginger, and greens. While not billed as an actual nutritional supplement, the little bears are certainly a cute way to take a shot of juice.

“If there is a possibility to get our nutrition through food, through herbs, that is the best way to go about things,” Horsman confirms. She suggests that all of her clients invest in some kind of probiotic product, because “there is such a connection between the gut and brain.” Probiotics are live, “friendly” bacteria and yeast that keep the digestive system balanced. Horsman recommends Genestra HMF Probiotics, one of the most clinically studied companies of its kind in Canada. Another option is Vancouver-based Yoggu: a dairy-free coconut probiotic yogurt that has 100 billion living vegan probiotics per jar.

And while these products might be trendy (undoubtedly due in part to Gwyneth Paltrow’s controversial Goop wellness site, which is hosting a one-day health summit in Vancouver in October 2018), Horsman emphasizes that it is important to consult with a professional doctor before diving in too deep. “Our trend towards wanting the supplements is because we want to have that easy, quick fix that says we’re going to be OK,” she explains. But we still need to take the time to make sure something is right for us.


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September 13, 2018