In today’s interview I get to speak with supplement manufacturing expert and CEO of Natural Stacks, Roy Krebs, about how to know if your supplement ingredients are good quality.
Roy is very passionate about promoting open-source supplements and sharing ingredient sourcing and quality with his Natural Stacks customers.
Roy shares some of his top tips on why consumers should know where their supplement ingredients are coming from & how those ingredients are being tested for quality.
He helps to explain the idea behind open source supplements and why Natural Stacks were the first company in the world to adopt this unique approach.
We also go into the usage protocols of some of the nootropics and supplements from Natural Stacks like their new Myco range.
If you like buying & using supplements you’ll benefit from what Roy shares about the supplement industry – find out what to watch out for.
He helps to explain the full process from how to source the best ingredients, correct nutritional label information & more.
I also discuss with Roy about Natural Stacks product range including their flagship product CILTEP, and their new medicinal mushrooms called the Myco range.
Special thanks to Roy for joining me on the show.
Enjoy the episode![Update: Listen to Roy explain what you need to know about buying CBD supplements]
Show Notes with Timestamps
Highlights of what we talk about during the interview:
Click on one of the timestamp links in the brackets to jump to that point in the interview audio.
[00:20] – Introducing Roy and his company Natural Stacks.
[00:59] – Roy used to be a sushi chef! He gives us some tips on choosing a good sushi place.
[02:38] – Natural Stacks is the world’s first open-source company. What does open-source mean when it comes to supplements? For Natural Stacks it’s a three-tiered approach. The main thing is full-label disclosure; for all ingredients, exact amounts are disclosed i.e. no proprietary formulas.
[03:36] – Proprietary formulas are commonly used in the supplement industry. So, what are they exactly? Roy explains how companies list the ingredients in their ‘blend’ but don’t specify how much is in there. This can be very deceiving. Could the amount of the key ingredients in such blends be too minuscule to have an effect?
[04:23] – Taking a biohackers approach – investigating and understanding what ingredients work, why they work and how they work.
[04:41] – Second in the Natural Stacks three-tiered protocol is ingredient traceability; which means disclosing suppliers, the country of origin and how each individual ingredient is processed. Finally, Roy explains the importance of the third-party lab tests to validate these products.
[05:30] – Why there can be variation in each batch of ingredients. How certain ingredients degrade over time and ensuring that the supplement facts remains valid at two-year expiration mark.
[06:15] – Summarising the three-tiered approach: full-label disclosure, ingredient traceability, third- party lab test.
[06:37] – Thinking about the difference between pharmaceutical made and pharmaceutical grade as well as the higher levels of criteria with pharmaceutical grade products.
[07:15] – There can be a high-level of variation between what companies say is in the product and what’s actually in there. Labdoor.com is a company that tests other products; it’s where you can look some of this information up. There are no quality standards or entities that tests products, validating what’s in them. The company must self-police to ensure a high-quality product.
[08:03] – Roy discusses some of the reasons Natural Stacks has been so successful; ensuring a high-quality product and giving customers the means to look up information themselves. Why they are confident in sharing all the information on their products with their customers.
[09:58] – Natural Stacks is continually adding more information on their website. Soon, not only will you be able to see what suppliers are used, but you’ll also be able to click on an ingredient and see how it was made, where it came from and its manufacturing date!
[10:56] – Roy explains how most supplement companies (~98%) rely on their manufacturers – whose incentive is to make the biggest margin – to source their ingredients for them. This means that they might not know where their ingredients are coming from.
[12:47] – Natural Stacks always source 100% of their own ingredients and are sharing all this information with customers. Hopefully, this will become an industry standard and more companies will be forced to do the same. People deserve to know.
[14:34] – Being so transparent, were there concerns that people would knock them off etc.? Why Roy had no problem with sharing information.
[17:09] – Natural Stacks level of transparency on the ingredient traceability side and their third-party testing is well beyond any other supplement company, but the term open-source can be interpreted in many ways. Roy shares the story behind how Natural Stacks first coined the term when it comes to their supplements.
[20:23] – More about the nootropic, CILTEP® – Natural Stacks’ flagship product. Roy explains what nootropic means; it’s a general term denoting a natural cognitive enhancer with no negative side-effects. He also tells us about other nootropics such as caffeine and explains what ‘stacking’ means.
[23:09] – Do all nootropics have a neuroprotective quality? Some stacks can be very strong and should be taken only in certain situations when you need a boost but shouldn’t be taken on a regular basis.
[24:10] – CILTEP® can be used both on a regular basis and can also be beneficial when taken occasionally. Why Roy recommends taking a couple of days off when taking Natural Stacks supplements. Roy explains CILTEP®’s many uses, especially for long-term memory but also for increased focus and engagement in the near-term.
[27:07] – Are there any side-effects associated with taking CILTEP® on a regular basis and what to do to combat these. Roy also talks about a trial they are doing to collect more data.
[29:40] – Anecdotal reports show that the greatest effects are seen in the elderly, who need it most.
[30:43] – What is the best way to take CILTEP®? Taking a single dose, first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, means absorption is better resulting in a stronger effect. It’s good to note that taking more than the suggested dose won’t create a stronger effect and that taking it too late in the day could disrupt sleep.
[32:48] – Roy talks about why they only use raw compounds, along with vitamins and minerals. Why you can overdose on 5HTP (which you can’t find naturally in nature) but not tryptophan (raw amino acid found in nature which is then turned into 5HTP in your body).
[35:18] – What other products can we find at Natural Stacks? Products that target specific neurotransmitters i.e. GABA Brain Food, serotonin Brain Food, dopamine Brain Food and soon acetylcholine. Roy talks about the importance of gaining a basic understanding of your brain when using these; why they recommend taking the organic acids urine test and the Braverman assessment.
[37:20] – Using a car analogy to explain the functions of the four main neurotransmitters in our brain; dopamine is the gas, acetylcholine is the accelerator, GABA is the breaks and serotonin the alternator. The goal is to achieve a balance in these.
[38:34] – Talking about the Myers-Briggs and Dr. Amen personality tests; how everyone has a neurotransmitter they are naturally dominant in and how this defines their personality. How supplementing to achieve a balance in these neurotransmitters can mean you are optimising yourself.
[40:03] – Most supplement companies sell mood products but at Natural Stacks they prefer a more defined approach, targeting the specific neurotransmitter necessary.
[41:57] – How easy is it to get the organic acids urine test? It is not essential to get one but it is a good idea to get as good an understanding of your brain and body as possible. It is important to be in tune with how your body is feeling.
[43:06] – In terms of guidance, to make sure Natural Stacks runs by the rules, they need to be cautious with what they say due to FDA, FTC regulations. Roy explains how the products are not designed to correct a disease/deficiency/problem, but rather to improve brain health in a natural way.
[44:25] – How it is important to provide as much high-level education as possible and how they are increasingly working on ways to get this information across. Currently, there is the Optimal Performance Podcast and the Braverman assessment on their blog.
[44:52] – It all starts with biohacking, n=1; looking at how in at how you are feeling at a certain time and understanding your own physiology.
[45:30] – We can take these products targeting neurotransmitters with CILTEP®; different Natural Stacks products are designed to be stacked together. Some tips on best ways to take these supplements. Roy recommends considering them as tools in your toolbox.
[48:12] – What is the Myco mushroom range? Explaining how they use real organic mushroom extracts vs the mycelium used in most supplements in the industry. What is mycelium and how is it different? Mycelium contains over 30-40% starch and has less active compounds.
[51:24] – The supplement industry is not regulated very well. The American Botanical Council is trying to create a standard for mushroom products. Reading the bottle and how to spot whether the supplement uses mycelium.
[52:16] – More about Natural Stack’s supplier, Nammex. Nammex has a lot of research and information on their website about how they grow their mushrooms. Roy explains how they collaborated with the founder, Jeff Chilton, to produce their products.
[53:11] – How Natural Stacks is innovating by creating stacks with a synergistic effect by combining real mushroom extracts with other botanicals and other supplements. There are three mushroom products available; MycoMIND™, MycoIMMUNE™ and MycoBOOST™. These can be taken with other supplements in their range. Roy tells us more on ways one might take these.
[56:16] – Talking about mushroom studies. There are very few high-quality studies on medicinal mushrooms to date, there will be more to come, however. Medicinal mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine in India and China for thousands of years, research is catching up.
[57:47] – For most, optimal goal is brain health and Natural Stacks products can help achieve this. Roy summarises some of their products: CILTEP®, used for memory capacity and longevity benefits; supplements targeting neurotransmitters which help with achieving balance, e.g. they impact sleep, mood and attention as well as have long-term benefits on brain health.
[59:46] – Some final points to look out for: be aware of proprietary formulas, 15 ingredient lists won’t give you an effective dose; do your homework, do your research and don’t rely on marketing. Try to understand why things work. Once you have a good understanding then you can start tinkering with stacks. Take your health into your own hands.
[1:01:55] – Best ways to find out more go to naturalstacks.com which provides information on products and links to research to back up formulas as well as the Optimal Performance Podcast which dives deep into specific topics that help you understand your brain.
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