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Are plant-based nutraceuticals the answer to our nation’s health woes?

Aussies are living longer than ever, but we’re also sicker than ever – 50% of us now have at least one chronic health condition. While governments have been slow to act on addressing this problem, and big pharma continues to rake in the dollars, many people are starting to realise how true that old adage is: prevention is better than cure. This is the idea behind one successful Aussie business – Activated Nutrients. The company offers premium organic plant-based “nutraceutical” supplements that have been designed to give everyday Aussies what their bodies have been missing.

Seeking a solution

Our modern lifestyles have a big part to play in our increasingly sick population – poor diet, lack of exercise, lousy sleep habits and stress are all taking their toll. Activated Nutrients founder Blair Norfolk knows the impact an unhealthy lifestyle can have better than most – in his previous life as a fashion model, his hectic schedule and poor diet saw him eventually develop two autoimmune conditions. The first was inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. A few years later, he developed vitiligo – when the immune system breaks down skin cells that produce melanin, causing depigmentation. “For me, it was really crippling, as I had based my income on how I looked usually,” Norfolk says.

“I was told by medical professionals that there was no solution, so I set out on my own health crusade to find natural solutions in food and plant based alternatives.” This crusade led Norfolk to meet Dr Jaroslav Boublik, now Activated Nutrients’ chief science officer. Dr JB, as Norfolk calls him, had been on a bit of a journey himself. After years of working in drug research and development, he was disenfranchised with the whole idea of a pharmaceutical “band-aid” approach. Like Norfolk, Dr JB was looking for more holistic, plant-based solutions, so the two teamed up in 2013 to develop Activated Nutrients’ first product range – Top Up organic supplements. The range mixes organic plant and herbal ingredients combined with pre- and probiotics. “We kept working on it over the next few years, and every six months we’d update it and change the formulation, until what we had was something that tastes great and has measurable health benefits,” Norfolk says.

Power supply

Once Activated Nutrients launched, people were soon asking for similar products for kids and people aged 50+, as well as performance and protein solutions. “Over the past 18 months, we’ve produced a certified organic range of nutrition products for everyone,” Norfolk says. “For instance, we have an energy product called Power Up, which we developed after working with the CrossFit community. We’re also about to launch performance products targeted towards men who are heavy gym-users, as well as athletes.”

Developing supps that really work is no mean feat. Each year, Norfolk and Dr JB attend the world’s largest natural health expo, where you can find all the latest breakthrough science and ingredients. “We then test samples of different ingredients in the lab,” Norfolk says. “We check them for vitamin content, we look at antioxidants, then we’re constantly reformulating to make sure we have the best product, the latest science and the best ingredients.” The company also works with athletes, including AFL teams and Tour de France cyclists, and tests all their products to ensure that they’re free from any banned substances.

A range of practitioner-only probiotics is also undergoing clinical testing in Europe, and the company’s sport performance probiotics have been found to reduce muscle soreness and inflammation by 50% in the 24 hours after exercise. They’ve also developed the first natural product in the world that’s clinically proven to reduce the frequency of asthma attacks and a product that slows down bone loss in postmenopausal women. Taking a stand. These results give new hope to an increasingly ill population, and with some estimates suggesting our children will be the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents, it’s obviously a solution that we’ve been crying out for. “Our whole idea is to bridge the nutritional gap,” Norfolk says. “In a perfect world, we’d all be eating 21 wholefood healthy meals every week and not need any supps. But that’s just not realistic. Our products are something you can take as a bit of an insurance policy. “The feedback is overwhelming – people tell us they didn’t get sick this year, they have more energy, they’re sleeping better.”

As for Norfolk, his health problems have almost disappeared. His IBD symptoms have reduced by 90%, and his vitiligo is beginning to regress. “People are starting to stand up and say, ‘I’m sick of going to the doctor and just getting another prescription. We’ve got 50-year-old men walking out of a pharmacy with eight or nine medicines – where does it all end? “We want to stop people from getting sick in the first place. Ninety percent of us are not eating the recommended amount of vegetables, and we’re all getting sicker,” he says. “I think there’s a pretty clear connection there.”

To look at the entire range of Activated Nutrients, head to www.activatednutrients.com.

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