Botanical Nutrition

by Rob Seeman official blogger of the health food movement

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Natural Products Expo West 2018 was another amazing success!

Every year NPEW draws like 90,000 people into the Anaheim Convention Center to see the latest paleo bars, natural medicine formulas, vegan proteins and a whole host of other stuff.  I have been going for many years, and always enjoy catching up with old friends and hearing what is going on with others in the natural products business.

This year I was blown away by some new products, and I just wanted to take a minute to mention a couple.

Nordic Naturals new Curcumin gummies are straight up amazing and completely sugar free! (Sweetened with xylitol). They’ve also come out with Melatonin gummies to add to their growing repertoire of top shelf vertically-integrated gummies like D3, Vitamin C and the top-selling children’s multi Nordic Berries.


Nordic also continues to extend their probiotic offerings with Probiotic Pixies, and are now selling a Marine Collagen supplement made entirely from fish!  For pescitarians and others who prefer eating lower on the food chain, this new item will be a hit – and really anyone interested in collagen supplementation with enjoy that I think. It has a very clean taste and natural strawberry flavor.

If you are interested in medicinal mushrooms like Corydceps, , Reishi, Chaga and others, you have probably heard of Host Defense organic mushrooms.


Host Defense currently represents over 60% of the US SPINS category of medicinal mushrooms.  While they are the clear leaders in mushroom products, company founder Paul Stamets has also been a widely-recognized inventor and an advocate for working to ‘GIVE BEES A CHANCE’ with research on mushrooms as a therapeutic agent to help prevent colony-collapse disorder, and prevent these devastating effects on the entire ecosystem.  Paul is also the only known mycologist to be represented as a character on Star Trek (astromycologist Lt. Paul Stamets on Star Trek Discover). How cool is that?


Host Defense came out with two very different delivery system innovations for their market-dominating line of medicinal mushrooms.

Mycomedinals teas are a really cool and innvovative way to combine herbs and mushrooms.  The Turmeric Immune has a hint of a chai flavor with cinnamon and ginger, but the flavor is warm and inviting and not overpowering.  If you’re like me you’re a 2-bagger, and at that level you can really tell these formulas have great levels of mushrooms and some really synergistic botanicals.

Priomordial Chocolates are too good to be true! The Maca flavor even has 5 grams of organic Maca root (for those keeping score – it is yellow Maca). The Himalayan Pink Salt is my favorite – they are all dark chocolate flavor and process, but the sometimes bitter notes of the Cacao bean are offset with not very much sugar at all (organic coconut sugar).  Each flavor of bar has a therapeutic dose of mushrooms comprising reishi, chaga and maitake.

More on all of these to come! In the coming days I will also post about some other discoveries I made at NPEW. It is always great to get out of Chicago for a minute. I think these new products were definitely the highlight of my trip to Natural Products Expo West 2018. Thanks for reading about these cool new natural medicine innovations, I welcome your feedback.


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うま味 Umami : the Fifth Taste of Super Foods

Umami, known as the fifth taste, is a Japanese word うま味 meaning “pleasant savory taste.” Are you falling into the American taste trap of too much salty, too much sweet and not enough of anything else? Well, don’t fast forward by bitter or pungent, either… but you really will benefit from exploring the savory protein flavor known as Umami.

boneless broth mushroom bowl

In 1908 Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda coined the term for his discoveries around the taste by combining the words for Umai うまい meaning delicious and mi 味 meaning taste. In 1985 Umami was recognized as the scientific term for the taste of amino acid compounds called glutamates, and nucleotides.

We now know through the work of scientists studying Umami that this taste has its own unique receptors in the human palette.  Before this discovery in the early 21st century it was largely considered to be an enhancement to other flavors or tastes. Certain amino acids, such as glutamate, react with certain nucleotides to greatly intensify the perception of this taste. Research indicates that when the Umami taste is already exhibited in glutamate rich foods, the nucleotide inosinate can increase the Umami by a factor of 8.

An article in Popular Science observes, “All those strong-flavored, highly concentrated foods, like anchovies, prosciutto, Parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, fish sauce, Marmite, blue cheese, miso: those are the ones that are packed with available glutamate.”

I have long been a fan of vegetable broths and soup stocks as a way to get lots of nutrition (and healing comfort) into the body in a tasty way.  One of the most savory broths is Miso, a traditional Japanese fermentation generally made from soybeans and aspergillus oryzae (Koji) and some times other ingredients such as seaweed, barley, or rice.  Miso is also one of the most Umami foods, and correspondingly – one of the richest dietary sources of Glutamate.

Glutamate is a neurotransmitter which is one of the most abundant molecules, and most common excitatory neurotransmitters, in the brain.  It is also a precursor to the inhibitory neurotransmitter amino acid GABA, which is often found to one of the greatest factors in relaxation and mental focus.  The metabolism of glutamate is critical to both excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters.

Glutamate is also used by the body to help excrete excess nitrogen, and to produce energy as part of the citric acid cycle, being involved in the metabolism of pyruvate and alpha-ket o glutamic acid.  This process is an intrinsic part of the creation of energy at a cellular level.

The taste of Umami, whether from a rich seaweed miso broth, from fermented fish, or from mushrooms, can be correlated with not just delicious taste; but potentially also great health benefits.  A small number of individuals may have an allergic reaction to glutamate rich foods, and to glutamate rich food additives such as MSG (mono-s odium glutamate) which is sometimes added to foods as an intense flavor enhancer. For the majority of us, glutamate rich foods can be an important way to get our savory souper foods!