Juice Plus – Fruits & Veggies in a Pill; but What About the Marketing?
Today we’re going to talk about Juice Plus.
A couple of my patients have asked me about that. And the question always comes up, “Is
Juice Plus a valid, worthwhile supplement or is it another one of those supplement – or a multi-level marketing scam? Because I’m
in prevention, and because I’m clear that the literature does support some supplements
– I get A LOT of questions about supplements. So we’ll talk about it. My name is Ford Brewer. I’m a cofounder
of PrevMed. We do heart attack, stroke, cancer & disability prevention. I’m licensed in
35 states. We travel to states to see patients. And where appropriate, we do telemedicine.
A lot of patients travel here to Nashville to see us. We can’t make you do High Intensity
Intervals & resistance training & manage an appropriate BMI. But we can help you by telling
you what you need to do – and why – and how to organize around it – and provide
appropriate medications to support you in staying healthy. Today, we’re talking about Juice Plus. Is
it a scam? Well, let’s talk about it.What is Juice Plus? First of all, the way, I understand it, it’s juiced
fruits and vegetables. The carbs have to have been removed. It has fruits and vegetable
components, so they have to have had significant carbs. But if you look at the label, it does
NOT have significant carbs. Vitamins & other nutrients have been added to juices that have
been dehydrated and put into pills. So, you’re getting your fruits & veggies in a pill. You
can evidently get a lot more fruit & veggies out of a pill than you can out of eating fruits
& veggies. Now, does this make sense? What’s the evidence?
Bear Grylles & the German Olympic team & several others swear by it & take it. I’m not sure
that those are the greatest – most reliable sources for science. When you start getting
into the science, they’ve got a lot of critics – both in the science area and the regulatory
area… like the UC Berkely Wellness Newsletter. And Steve Barrett. Steve Barret publishes
a couple of things – called the Multi Level Marketing Watch and the QuackWatch. He put
Juice Plus on the list of “questionable research entities”. Why so much pushback and criticism of Juice
Plus? There are a lot people that juice. These guys just decided to put it in powder (dehydrate
it), add vitamins, and take the carbs out. That sounds like not such a bad idea to me.
I mentioned Multi Level Marketing Watch – Steve Barrett. Here are some of his multiple complaints about
the group – “Conflicts of Interest”. These conflicts of interest revolve around
their research components. Let me give you an example. This example is with the John
Wise episode. In 1986, John Wise was the co-author of several studies that showed Juice Plus
prevented several diseases. John Wise was the Executive VP of USAI – United Sciences
of America. It was a multi level marketing group. It sold vitamins & supplements. In
1987 it was shut down by several states and federal regulators for making false marketing
claims. There was a new company that John Wise went to after USAI was shut down. It
was called NAI. NAI soon got the Juice Plus contract, which was about 16% of their revenues.
(& which was being run by John Wise). So that was maybe not great judgement in terms of
selecting who does your market research. Speaking of not the greatest luck – or choices
– in marketing – then they decided, “you know what? There’s a great athlete endorsement
connection here. There’s an athlete named OJ Simpson – known as ‘The Juice’ – a
really good athlete – very popular – doing lots of endorsements. Let’s get an endorsement
from him. And they set up a contract – 6 figures – multi-year… There are pictures
of OJ standing up in front of thousands of Juice Plus distributors saying it got rid
of his arthritis and made him play golf better. Pretty soon after that, he was on trial for
the murder of his wife and another person. He said his arthritis “made it impossible for
(him) to have done that. ” So, again, I don’t know if I’d say it was a bad choice or just
unlucky. Anyway, Juice Plus. Do I take it. Actually,
I’m trying it. I’ve got a friend who asked me to. First of all, why would I try it. I’m
a medical science geek, an epidemiologist. Let’s go back through what this it. Let’s
review the logic. – which I think is pretty good. I’ve got a juicer. I juice quite a
bit. But it is a mess! Juicing is a mess. Obviously juicing fruits is going to give
you way too many carbs. And even juicing vegetables is going to give you too many carbs. Carrots
& beets – have you ever heard of sugar beets? Did you know that a lot of sugar is obtained
from beet juice? I’m Insulin Resistant, as are most people
in their 60s. So, I’ve often thought, “Man, it would be neat if someone came up with the
idea of juicing, dehydrating & taking the carbs out!” That is exactly what Juice Plus
does. So I’ve taken it for a month or two. Do I feel better? I continue to feel better
& better. That gets into the issue – does it mean Juice Plus did it? There is no way
I can tell. There are two products. One is processed vegetables.
The other is fruit. And as you can see, very few carbs. The idea is you can get a whole
bunch of fruits & vegetables without having to overload on carbs and eat too much. Again,
I don’t now if that’s true or not. Will I continue it? Let’s get back to that concept of an N of
1. N means the number of people in your research project. With the growing importance of genetics
– and the fact that prevention gets a lot people who criticize the standards in medicine…
And I do, too. There are a lot of things in the standards of medicine I criticize. For
example, statins – and how they focus on LDL and tend to forget about inflammation.
Yes, I’ve studied genetics. I’ve been in the postgraduate program for genetics at
Stanford. It’s really clear that genetics is re-writing the textbooks of medicine – and
the standards of medicine. So, from those perspectives, an N of 1 is appropriate. However, here’s the problem. You get somebody
like me – and like a lot of people that say, “ You know what? I’ll try that. At
the same time that I’ve added Juice Plus, I’ve also changed my diet several times.
I’ve changed my exercise patterns several times. I’ve changed my medications. I’ve
changed way too many things to attribute it to that one thing. So the next question is – some people may
have – are you going to buy it again? I don’t know. It’s expensive. But I’m
tempted because I love the logic. I’d love to hear your thoughts. From my perspective,
Juice Plus has a valid product. But like so many supplements companies, they’ve gone
down that ugly path of trying to generate way too much evidence, quote “scientific”
medical evidence – that they work. And in their zeal to do that, they got really sloppy
in their marketing, and in their “research”. Now, maybe they’ve cleaned up their act.
I don’t know. For their product’s sake, I wish they would. I’d love to see some
real research around Juice Plus. If you’re aware of any, please let me know. Thanks.