I spent the better part of this past weekend at the Natural Products Expo in Baltimore. While many of you may be thinking that walking the halls of a convention hall may not be the ideal way to spend such a gorgeous Fall weekend, for a health and nutrition geek like me, it was like a kid in a candy shop! As many of you know, I am an outdoor enthusiast, but I figure there are likely to be more beautiful weekends and this event only happens once a year and it is well worth the wait!
Why do I go? Because the Natural Products Expo is the largest gathering of manufacturers and distributors of health and nutrition products in the world and it is the ideal way to get a hands-on look at the latest and greatest in the industry. There are over a thousand exhibitors and more 25,000 industry members who attend this event. That being said, I scout thousands of products and there are typically only a handful that really pique my interest. The challenge is the industry is so commercialized that most new products are just repackaged versions of existing products or products that just don’t get the real meaning of the word “natural.” Most contain too many synthetic or processed ingredients or materials. So I have to comb through a lot of junk to find a few gems.
What I look for are the products that are not only made with ingredients and materials that enhance rather than hinder good health, but that are innovative and fill a need in the busy, health-conscious lifestyle of my typical client or reader.
Each year there are prominent themes or trends that are noteworthy. This year, thankfully, the snack bar segment is opting for more superfood and whole food ingredients in their formulations. Alkalized water is another welcomed trend, ranging from alkalized bottled waters to alkaline water filter systems. The health beverage industry is also taking a positive step forward, steering away from the caffeinated energy drinks and moving more toward functional and nutrient-rich products. And perhaps one of the most promising trends is the move away from soy and artificial sweeteners. Many products are actually labeled “soy-free” and “low glycemic.”
So here are the products that made an impression on me and that I recommend you try out. I present them in order of priority in terms of having the biggest impact on your health.
1. Zing Anything Water Bottles – These are by far the most exciting new products this year! They are eco-friendly (BPA-free) water bottles that provide a unique and refreshing way to enhance the flavor and health benefits of water! If you are someone who has difficulty drinking enough water throughout the day, this is the perfect item for you. The bottles contain a screw-on reservoir on the bottom of the bottle where you can place pieces of fresh fruit or vegetables such as lemons, limes, cucumbers, mint or watermelon and the juices from the food are subtly infused with the water through a mesh barrier. This lets water in, but keeps the flavor pulp safely in place so there’s no need to worry about seeds or rinds infiltrating your drink. Just leave the fruit or vegetable in the bottle and refill it throughout the day!
The Aquazinger is a stainless steel bottle that contains a grinder in the reservoir for pulverizing fruits and vegetables and the Citruszinger is a BPA-free plastic bottle that uses a citrus juicer blade for creating that fresh-squeezed citrus flavor. This product is currently available on Amazon.com here. If you want great recipes to use in your Zinger, go to the company website here.
2. Aquaspace Alkalizing Water Pitcher (Carafe) – Speaking of water, this is a convenient, low-cost way to filter your drinking water and alkalize it at the same time! And yes, you do need to filter your tap water. Tap water contains numerous contaminants that are hazardous to your health, such as volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and fluoride. VOC’s are byproducts of chlorine and promote the formation of free radicals. Excess flouride has been linked to arthritis, hypothyroidism, neurological disorders, muscle disorders, osteoporosis, depressed immunity, and cancer. There is a reason many toothpastes are proudly labeled “fluoride-free.” If it’s not good enough to brush your teeth with, do you really want it in your water?
Unlike the Brita pitcher, which merely reduces the amount of lead and chlorine in your water, this unique portable filtration system removes 55 different Volatile Organic Compounds, like heavy metals and even fluoride!
The other great thing about this water pitcher is that it raises the pH of your water to 9.0. Why is this a good thing? Because most of us have too much acid in our bodies, which promotes disease and accelerates aging. The ideal pH for the human body is 7.35-7.45. Most of the water we drink, including tap water and bottled water has a pH of under 7.0, which means they are acidic. The filter in the Aquaspace Carafe contains ionated minerals that are infused into the water, raising the pH.
The Aquaspace Carafe retails for just $74. They do recommend that the filter be replaced every three months. For more information on the AquaSpace Carafe, visit www.aquaspace.com .
3. INBar – This is a meal supplement formulated for people with glucose management or weight-loss goals. While there are many bars on the market that share this claim, what I like about the INBar is that it is made with all-natural, organic ingredients and no artificial sweeteners or chemicals. It contains 10 grams of protein from sunflower seed butter and rice protein, is sweetened with agave and luo han guo, and provides 10 grams or fiber from rice bran and peas! Surprisingly, this bar actually tastes good. It comes in a variety of flavors, including chocolate mint, chocolate fudge, strawberry-banana, and chocolate cherry.
4. Keen-Wah Decadence Bar – This is another whole food-based snack bar, but this one is made with the superfood grain quinoa. It’s the first bar I’ve ever tried made with quinoa (sprouted quinoa flour, to be precise) that actually tastes good. In fact, it tastes like you’re cheating, but you are actually feeding your body some pretty righteous nutrients! They call it “Intelligent Indulgence.” It is gluten-free, soy-free, vegan, and contains antioxidants and omega-3 fats. One bar contains less than 200 calories, 4 grams or fiber, 6 grams of protein, and only 10 grams of low-glycemic sugar from coconut nectar. And the various flavors are also from all-natural ingredients.
The Keen-Wah Decadence bar currently comes in four different flavors and is available on Amazon.com here.
5. NadaMoo Frozen Desserts – If you crave the creaminess and sweetness of ice cream, but can’t do the dairy and don’t want your blood sugar levels going through the roof, this is an excellent option! Let’s face it, there’s no worthy substitute for good old fashion ice cream. I have searched all over for the next best thing, and NadaMoo is my new favorite! Made with all organic ingredients, they use a creamy coconut milk base, sweeten it with low-glycemic agave nectar and brown rice syrup, and add natural extracts for the flavor. They currently have six flavors, but I’m partial to the chocolate and the java crunch. I tasted this stuff and it rocks! And it has only 9 grams of sugar per serving!
Visit the website at www.nadamoo.com for more info.