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Health Food Experts, Supplements, and preB

400 Food design experts reveal their opinions about supplements
Would you like to know the real opinions of four hundred health food experts about the relative importance of different kinds of supplements for the human body?

They were all attendees at an international health food expo. As a group, they are the world’s premiere designers and marketers of natural foods. If you’ve eaten a “natural” or “healthy” food lately, chances are these are the people who created it.

The 400 who were generous enough to share their opinions are: Nutritionists, Dieticians, Food Technologists, Sports Nutrition Experts, Product Formulators, Natural Food Marketers, and a slew of Natural Food Salespersons each with a decade or more of experience in the natural food industry.

These are the people you go to when you want to know what is happening, and gain insight into the future trends in the development of new natural foods.

So, we asked them: What are the really important supplements a person should take?

The experts’ opinions may surprise you
We gave the 400 experts a written questionnaire with three main questions on it. After they filled out their answers, we interviewed many of them to see what they were thinking in more detail.

Q 1: What did you think about the importance of intestinal health?
A: Of paramount importance.

The great majority rated intestinal health as nearly the most important thing in making decisions about your health.

“What good is eating a lot of healthy food if your body can’t digest and extract all the vital nutrients we put in there?” – opined a Food Technologist. 

Another professional agreed, reasoning that since everything you eat goes through your intestinal tract, good health had to start there.    

“We have neglected what goes on in the gut for far too long. I guess our dirty little secret in the industry is that we don’t understand the gut very well, so we just ignore it or pretend it doesn’t matter. Between you and me, our whole natural food industry rises and falls on what happens, or doesn’t happen, in the gut.” – Sports Nutrition Expert

“We are only now beginning to understand the metabolic processes that go on in the intestinal tract. I guess what brought it to our attention was the huge number of studies showing the prime importance of fiber in the diet. But, when you begin there, you realize that there is an awful lot more to keeping your gut healthy than just fiber.” – Registered Dietician

 “Who would have guessed that in an industry that spent decades talking about vitamins, minerals, fat grams, and carbohydrates, that we would finally get around to figuring out how important the bowels are to nutrition and health. Our problem is, we have spent a lot of money telling people why our present product formulas are important, so it's going to take us a while to do anything that deals with the gut specifically.” – Natural Food Product Salesperson

Q 2: In selecting a product about your gut health, which would you consider most important in buying a supplement: Prebiotics, Probiotics, or Synbiotics?
A: 100% said: Prebiotics.

Health Food industry Spokesperson: “The last five years have really seen a lot of advancement in probiotic product development. We think this is an incredibly important trend. However, we are beginning to see that probiotics are really just part of the story. We are now seeing a lot of new product development centering on prebiotics. I think that is the right direction. Prebiotics is probably going to be one of the top 5 or 10 trends in the industry for the next decade.”

“Given our long emphasis on probiotics, we now realize that to sustain resident populations of gut bacteria you need a really good prebiotic.” – Product Formulator

“I’d be surprised if anyone at this show, other than the probiotic people, would argue with the notion that gut health starts with good prebiotics.” – Nutritionist

“Prebiotics. Probiotics. What can you do with probiotics without prebiotics? Not much.” – Product Formulator

“We were surprised at the result of near unanimous agreement of the experts here that prebiotic products, like preB, are more important to purchase than probiotics. We’ve always believed and known that, but to have all these really well-informed people say it too – well, it's overwhelming.” President, Brazil Products, producers of preB

Q 3: We are now going to ask you a question comparing a number of different supplements with prebiotics/gut health supplements. Which do you consider more important in selecting a supplement?

Gut health….       or Antioxidants
                         or Omega-3s
                         or Heart health
                         or Blood sugar control
                         or Blood pressure control
                         or Probiotics
                         or Vitamins
                         or Minerals

A: A surprising set of answers here...
In nearly every case, the 400 natural food experts rated prebiotic, gut health products roughly equal in importance to every supplement it was being compared to. The only exception was blood sugar control, which was rated slightly more important, and vitamins were rated significantly less important than prebiotics.

“When you think about it, we are seeing a revolution in natural health products. If you compared each of these supplements with each other, you would definitely see a rank order. But gut health is really different. It touches so much about what is important to health, you can’t rule it out. It has to be there, no mater what else you do,” – Nutritionist

“Listen, my job is to sell products my company makes. I really believe in what we make. But that doesn’t mean I’m blind to what else is out there. Why can’t companies start making natural food products that have all that the body needs, not just one or two star ingredients? If you did that, prebiotic products would be in every natural food.” – Senior Salesperson

“My company is coming out by year’s end with a new prebiotic enhanced product. But they are just adding a bit of inulin. Frankly, your preB is a much better solution – multiple ingredients and all that. But you didn’t hear it from me.”  – Product formulator

“I guess the news here is that the ground is shifting under the old style nutrition companies, like mine. We’ve got to catch up and start providing products that deal more with gut issues.” – Corporate natural food executive