A member of our Fat-Burning Tribe community just asked a great question and I’d like to share our answer with you.
“You often reference in the videos that supplements are not always what they say that are, and therefore not good to take. I agree; but I would like to know your thoughts on the products made by JuicePlus. These are products that I take that are backed by plenty of science.”
So we decided to do some digging on JuicePlus and found several red flags.
Firstly, there’s the claim from the supplement company itself saying that it’s “backed by science.” That sounds good, right?
Not so fast.
All of the “clinical studies” that support JuicePlus were funded by JuicePlus.
To state the obvious, that’s a HUGE conflict of interest.
According to a peer-reviewed study on the relationship between funding sources and the findings of scientific articles:
“Industry funding of nutrition-related scientific articles may bias conclusions in favor of sponsors’ products, with potentially significant implications for public health.”
Even Dr. Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the world’s most respected medical journal, The Lancet, recently published a statement declaring:
“Much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.”
That’s why the first thing you should do when you look at a study is to see who funded it.
Marion Nestle, professor at NYU, estimates that “90% of studies about soda that were funded by the soda industry conclude that soda isn’t all that bad for you. Among studies funded by everyone else, 90% found that just the opposite is true.”
In “pop” culture terms (ha!), it’s kind of like the time Kanye West declared himself “the greatest living rockstar on the planet.”
Kanye West: “You are now watching the greatest living rockstar on the planet” #Glasto2015 pic.twitter.com/hW63hPu8DK
— Stephen Kinsella (@SteKinsella) June 28, 2015
Here’s how I wish the world worked:
Based upon a body of independently-funded, peer-reviewed scientific findings, a supplement company formulates an effective product.
Here’s how it actually works:
A supplement company sends money to a funding-starved lab to demonstrate what the marketing team thinks will sell its highest-margin products.
But before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at what JuicePlus is selling.
I should say that it’s hard to know if a supplement company has quality ingredients without requesting a Certificate of Analysis or actually visiting the facility.
But from a quick look at their website and labels, here’s what I can tell…
Nutrition Bar: The first ingredient is “Fig Paste,” which is sugar. The second ingredient is brown rice syrup, which is also sugar. To be honest, there’s not a lot of nutrition in here. The chia is good, and there are a couple types of sprouts, but they’re not organic and the majority of the ingredients won’t do much for you. With 9 grams of sugar, this should be seen more as a treat than something you want to eat for your health.
Personally, I’d rather eat a cookie.
Complete Variety Drink Mix: The first ingredient looks like it’s junk protein, a blend that’s mostly soy with chickpea, pea and rice. The second ingredient is sugar. I have to be honest – it’s difficult to read the ingredients because the images of their ingredients are so small and hard to read. This is also a bad sign. You want the company to display their ingredients proudly. That aside, it has 11 grams of sugar in just one scoop. Again, I’d rather eat a cookie.
Orchard and Garden Blend Capsules: They’ve got fruit and vegetable powders, synthetic vitamins, and some probiotics (although it doesn’t say how much). The fruits and veggies are not organic which isn’t a good sign considering the astronomical price they’re charging. Also, their website doesn’t specify the source of the fruit and vegetable powders. Many of these concentrated powders can be high in heavy metals like lead and arsenic.
The non-GMO claim is great, but they don’t have a Non-GMO verification which is concerning especially since there’s soy in almost all of their products. Some of their products have a few organic ingredients, but the majority of the fruit and vegetables used are not organic. This means that much of the pesticides that were sprayed on the fruits and vegetables could actually be concentrated in their products.
Finally, this company is built on Multi-Level Marketing. As a consumer (and as a small business owner who understands a bit about marketing), I don’t trust the ethics of MLM. MLM products usually are high-margin, which means most of your money is paying for the salesperson, not the product. I’ve seen MLM do seriously weird things to people.
Our recommendation, as always, is to get as much nutrition as you can from real food – fresh organic vegetables, nuts, and fruits and nutrient-dense fats and protein.
If you’re looking for supplements, go for the tried-and-true ones. For example, we regularly supplement with cod liver oil, vitamin D, vitamin C, magnesium, and probiotics. Not vegetable pills and sugar bars.
If you’d like to get your question answered, join us in the Fat-Burning Tribe today for just $1.
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Beth @ Hooked on Health says
I understand your concerns about Juice Plus however this company is way above board. I also asked about the organic factor and the reply was because they get their fruits and vegetables from multiple growers, it would just be too expensive to certify them all therefore raising the prices even more. I do not feel that $44.50 per month for the equivalent of an extra 5 servings of fruits and vegetables is “exorbitant”. It breaks down to less than $1.50 per day.
My other concern is you dissing Juice Plus without knowing the company. I am assuming this of course because you don’t seem to know a lot about them and what they really stand for.
Fig paste is just what it says, fig paste, made from figs. After all Abel, you sweeten with Xylitol and I think that is a processed ingredient, I can’t even call it food.
They are not for everybody but this company is focusing on the average American with an average diet. Juice Plus is an easy convenient way to get more fruits and vegetables into their diets and it has helped many people want to make even more changes. JP may not be the supplement for die hard healthy eaters but then not everybody is.
Abel James says
Hi Beth, thank you for stopping by! I hear you – the markup on these products is high (over $110 for two bottles on Amazon). Maybe this company is trying to do the right thing, but my point is that it’s easy to get carried away with supplements that are sold as the “silver bullet” of nutrition.
On the sweetener front, we’re so-so about stevia and sugar alcohols like xylitol. We use them in some recipes for sweetness, but it’s best to keep most sweeteners to a minimum. With sweeteners, it’s always about “lesser of evils.”
You’ve encouraged me to look a little bit more into their ingredients. In their “complete variety nutrition bars,” in addition to fig paste and rice syrup, they also use soy protein, soy crisps, glycerine, and other oddities. They’re selling sugar bars under the guise of “balanced nutrition on- the-go.” Some of their products may be OK, but I’m certainly not impressed.
At the end of the day, I wouldn’t take these. There are so many options that provide more nutrition for less cash – especially when it comes to green superfoods.
I am trying Juice Plus at the moment. Like Beth, I also understood that it’s all organic, from fruit and veg picked when ripe. Unfortunately, in Europe we pay about 4 times more than in the US for the same product… I have been eating plenty of veg and fruit for a long time, so I don’t really notice any effect. However, I did meet people who have noticed a big difference in their system because they didn’t eat a lot of fruit and veg before, including detox-like symptoms. I do agree with Abel that eating veg and fruit, and/or juicing, is better. That’s why Juice Plus says it’s ‘the next best thing to fruit and veg’. I agree with Beth that it’s not for everyone, and it’s a good alternative for people who find it difficult to fit in the real veg and fruit on a daily basis.
I forgot to say that my comment was about the powder capsules. I totally agree with everyone else on their other products like bars, shakes and soups. They are not healthy by any standard I think. They even put sugar in the soup… I eat mostly Paleo so I wouldn’t take soy, peas and rice anyway.
Wow! Beth REALLY likes Juice Plus! Could she be employed by them? Benefitting from sales? Possibly in the throughs of a Juice Plus sugar crash?
I find Abel’s information to be relevant in the fact that NO ONE should take nutrition claims at face value, and should question everything that they read, including this blog (sorry Abel, I know you are reputable. Just making a point).
I don’t know the first thing about Juice Plus, but if the sugar content is 9g and 11g per serving, these may not be health foods. Food is health food. Real food.
Beth @ Hooked on Health says
Jeez Abel, don’t buy them on Amazon. Although you did say “you would rather eat a cookie” and called them ridiculous juice pills. Both of which I think are pretty silly statements and if the only way you priced them was on Amazon then no wonder.
I’m not big on the nutrition bars either but I am approaching this from a position of, with some people, something (AND THIS IS A GOOD SOMETHING) is better than nothing at all.
I bet you don’t know about the Children’s Health Study where any school age person, not just a child, above the age of four, can get the product for free for four years. Let me know if you want to know more.
PS Your article about Xylitol certainly sounded like you were a major supporter and frequent user. I personally, wouldn’t touch the stuff.
I also have a blog where I tow a tough line when it comes to nutrition and protecting the earth by reducing your carbon footprint. So there were a couple of JP ingredients I have a problem with. However in the end, I asked myself, for some people, this is the best way to get them on a healthier path and REALLY, isn’t that what this is all about?
And while I always preach about how BAD soy is, I am convinced theirs is different, non GMO etc. I haven’t done much research on it yet but right now I am pretty impressed with this company.
The product (capsules) actually costs $44.50 a month and if you have a child on it through the CHS it essentially cuts the cost PperP in half.
Beth @ Hooked on Health says
Yes Tim, I am a distributor. I am new to the company and as of yet have not made a dime. You guys are not looking at the whole picture when you talk sugar grams AND I will repeat. I am talking about the capsules as I am anti the nutrition bars or ANY nutrition bar for that matter and have not formed an opinion yet about the shake mix although some people have had huge success with them.
So I guess I understand your reason for writing this post but isn’t the point for people to get healthier and isn’t the path they take immaterial?
If you are looking for an employer or product that is perfect then you are going to be looking forever…..because nothing is perfect.
It’s interesting the amount of class action lawsuits coming. Also heard that one of the most popular protien bars has one coming down the pipe. Not to mention some of the products that just got bannded because of the ingrediants.
Abel James says
Good point, Paul. I think in the next few years we’ll see quite a bit more scrutiny in the supplement industry.
It’s incredible how some companies get away with claims that have very little bearing on reality.
Lenny Gale says
First of all, hilarious rendering of blendables not equal to three small green pills.
Your breakdown of this specific supplement is a good example.
I recently did a piece on supplements, specifically what Dr. Oz unknowingly taught me about them. (linked)
Pretty amazing how the world of supplements actually works, eh?
Pgh Pammy says
I can actually see this from both sides. It was a company called Vemma, with a liquid vitamin/mineral supplement, that got me on the path to a healthier lifestyle. I was one of the people Beth talks about, an average overweight American eating the SAD diet. Like Juice Plus, Vemma is an MLM company and had scientific studies too. I never really questioned them at first. But as I learned more, lost weight, and got healthier, I started taking a closer look at the ingredients. Some were ok, but some were questionable and ultimately Vemma was just a bridge on my path to wellness. Abel makes a lot of good points (however, you can’t go by prices on Amazon. I’ve seen wildly inflated prices for all sorts of products by sellers). In the end, we all need to question and verify the companies/products we give our hard earned money to, righ? Abel, even the Bulletproof Executive team refused my request for a COA citing ‘proprietary info’ as the reason. In fact, I’ve been waiting over a month for an answer about differences in labeling for their MCT oil from my bottle to what is posted on their website.
I would not buy anything from the Bulletproof line of products. Mr Asprey is a great salesman, he manages to convince people to purchase his inflated priced products..
Great Lakes collagen is cheaper than Bulletproof Collagen, Now Foods MCT is cheaper than Bulletproof MCT, even his Bulletproof coffee is twice the price of Portland Roasting Company Guatemalan coffee which seems to be the same coffee bean.FYI Coffee bean should be consumed within 2 weeks of roasting if you want to benefit from its antioxidant properties.
(the youtube message board is interesting)
It seems everyone in the health field is selling something, it is hard to figure out who is not in it for the money.
I buy Pure encapsulation multi vitamin and now I am wondering if I am wasting my money on that supplement.
It was a multi vitamin recommended from Portland SIBO center.
John Fawkes says
I’ve had readers ask me about companies like that too. Same deal, total MLM, pseudo-science crap. And that’s before we get into whether it even contains what it says it contains. SMH.
First off, great blog. I came across you on from Jamie at eventual millionaire (another great blog)!
.I do use supplements quite a bit, but for the most part its vitamins and nootropics (dabbling in that), but I have definitely noticed much more scrutiny in the media regarding claims and just the supplements in general.
I understand that claims need to be backed by science, but how is it that a company can make a product like this and get away with claims like these without science? http://www.strongsupplementshop.com/hydroxyelite-by-hi-tech-pharmaceuticals
I mean, “Extreme Diet Aid.” What the heck is that? Of course it has the asterisk that says “these statements have not been evaluated by the fda.” Apparently this company “Hi-Tech has had its fare share of issues with the fda, I have seen a few articles about them. What surprises me more is that they are still allowed to be in business or sell these kinds of supplements with these wild claims.
A few months ago I saw an episode of Real sports with Bryant Gumbel talking about the supplement industry and how two companies who previously got in trouble for spiked supplements are back selling updated versions of their previously spiked supplements! Really, where is the regulation?
Sorry for the negativity, but I have just been one who has fell for the marketing and bought some of these types of supplements due to the claims. I remember buying cell tech when I was younger because jay cutler said he used it to get big.
I guess the real question is, how do they regulate this kind of stuff? Thoughts?
Michele Williams says
I recommend that anyone attempting to evaluate a company or its product should do so by going to the source. Juice Plus speaks to these concerns raised. Ask the company questions if you are so concerned about claims they make, ingredients in their bars, their shake mix. Rather than posting incomplete information which ,in my opinion, weakens your credibility, sincerely seek to have your questions answered by the company first. Juice Plus has the knowledge base with the ability to address your questions. It doesn’t take that long to sincerely look for answers rather than make statements based upon 3rd party comments. Juice plus will address the soy questions, and I’m pretty sure fruit sugar is still better than refined sugar. And then there is the fruit benefit too. You may still come to the same conclusions and that’s fine but don’t make statements based on third party sources, ie: Amazon prices, or perceived lack of continuity in the quality or content of the capsules. Also, Juice Plus does not make a soup. Your title , “Why you shouldn’t trust your favorite supplement company ” gives the impression you know what you are talking about, but you have not honestly researched Juice Plus or the problems you have with it wouldn’t be the ones you stated, maybe something else but not these.
I took juice plus for 4 days, one shake every morning and ended up in hospital for a full 7 days!! I was vomiting after day 2 on the shakes, tried changing the milk as my rep suggested I maybe wasn’t taking to the soya very well. It couldn’t POSSIBLY be the powder making me sick. So I tried with coconut milk, still vomited, tried with almond, still vomited so I had a day off. The following day I was admitted to hospital with jaundice!! Yellow skin and eyes. My urine literally looked like Coca Cola. My bloods were highly deranged. Bilirubin count was well over 100 and my phosphate and red blood cell distribution width were very highly elevated. There was a fourth thing in my bloods which was also elevated but I can’t remember what the doctor called it so I can’t mention it here :/ I was in hospital from Friday 18/11/16 through to 25/11/16. I was treated for jaundice with fluid via a uv drip and a cannula in my hand, as well as antibiotics, plus chlorphenomine 3 times daily to combat the itchiness that accompanies jaundice. I was literally scratching myself raw from head to toe with it! I was having blood taken every single day, sometimes twice a day, so they could keep an eye on my blood counts. I was peeing into a bedpan, so they could note any colour changes…not at all humiliating!! I was given an ultrasound scan which showed gallbladder inflammation, but. I cause for it could be found. I was Sent for an MRI scan to see if there were any gallstones or blockages in the bike duct. Nothing. My liver was fine, blood tests indicated no infections anywhere. After a week of tests and being poked prodded and stuck with needles until I was running out of viable veins my consultant concluded that the only possible cause for my jaundice and bloods was the juice plus! This is on record at the hospital, and at a follow up appointment at the gastroenterologist clinic just yesterday, 6/12/16 (where blood was taken yet again!!) it was confirmed one more by my gastroenterologist that the supplement Juice Plus was the direct cause of my hospitalisation. So please please don’t be fooled by these money thirsty reps who tell you that Juice Plus is a wonderful nutritious all natural product that can do you no harm, because I’m here to tell you otherwise! I am STILL itching and still taking medication now! But, happily, my skin urine and bloods have completely levelled off to normal and I am slowly recovering from my ordeal. It has been a nightmare though! So all you people bugging up JUICE PLUS please keep me in mind! It isn’t completely safe for everyone, and it CAN cause harm! I have proof of that in my medical file!!
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