Interview with a mom, executive and vitamin guru
Our interview series focuses on people who inspire others to live life on the NaturalPath, and so I was excited to chat with a woman I truly admire, my dear friend Taryn Forrelli, ND. Taryn is a busy, working mom who embraces natural family living and has spent her career as an educator and executive in the nutritional products industry. She’s also an amazing cook which means she can formulate great tasting products. Most importantly, she is a true friend and embodies life on the NaturalPath.
Dr. Taryn Forrelli is a naturopathic physician with over fourteen years of experience in the natural products industry and a track record of developing uniquely effective dietary supplements. She is the VP of Innovation and Resident Nutritionist at OLLY. Prior to joining OLLY, Dr. Forrelli served as Director of Medical Education and VP of Innovation at New Chapter. She received her naturopathic degree from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, AZ.
ENTER TO WIN OLLY VITAMINS BELOW:
We are longtime friends, and even went through pregnancy and childbirth together, so I know that when it comes to being on the NaturalPath, you really walk the talk. As a naturopathic physician, thought leader, mom, and business executive, how do you maintain healthy balance in your life? Do you have any morning or evening rituals to stay healthy mentally and physically?
Most weekdays, I wake up and hit go. I like to get to work early so I can get home later in the day and have the time and energy to make dinner for my family. Cooking is my favorite creative outlet and stress reliever. We eat dinner as a family each night, and while mealtime with my 5-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter isn’t always the most peaceful, it is comforting to be nourished together and connect through conversation, silly as it often turns out to be. Lately, I’ve started taking walks with my daughter after dinner. They provide an opportunity for me to forget about work and responsibilities, and l love that my daughter is learning the value of both physical activity and time spent in nature.
You’ve spent much of your career as a Director of Science and Innovation for a major supplement company, educating physicians with regard to the latest nutritional research and protocols as well as formulating products. What trends do you see in the nutritional supplement industry and which ones should we be excited about?
Two categories that are exploding are functional foods and probiotics. A recent study reporting that 40% of Americans have trouble swallowing pills helps explain why so many people are choosing gummy forms of supplements and functional foods over conventional pill and tablet forms. And those that can swallow pills are simply pill fatigued. They would rather eat their nutrients rather than swallow them back like pharmaceuticals. I think we will see even more functional ingredients like vitamins, phytonutrients, probiotics, omega 3s, and fiber showing up in alternative delivery formats including bars, powders, drinks and beyond in the near future. As a naturopath, it is exciting to see functional foods being widely accepted. It signals to me a returning appreciation for the Hippocratic teaching that food is medicine, a notion that has been all but forgotten the last hundred years or so. On the probiotics front, I am closely following the Human Microbiome Project (HMP), an initiative at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with the goal of identifying the association between bacteria we carry around on our bodies and their impact on health. We already know that people who eat a hunter and gather type diet have a very different microbiome than people eating a Western diet, so food is clearly an important regulator of microbial growth. I am hopeful the HMP research will help us design dietary supplements including tailored probiotic strains that promote specific changes in the microbiome required for improved health including cardiovascular health, mood health, and metabolic health. My prediction is that the therapeutic tools will go beyond probiotics, with things like prebiotics and polyphenols proving to be valuable modulators.
As Vice President of Innovation for OLLY, you lead the development of new products in novel delivery formats. From where do you draw your inspiration for innovating new ideas?
My inspiration comes from both the culinary and research world. I use the daily science news to identify opportunities for nutritional products that can improve and enhance human health in ways that aren’t already well known. I recently saw a study reporting benefits of omega 3s on the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, and immediately began to wonder what a product with omega 3s specifically designed for gut health might look like. What other ingredients might work synergistically with it? What collateral benefits for gut health would the omega 3s provide? And the really fun question– how could we craft a story for consumers in a way that is simple, yet compelling? Every chef knows that the best meals are the one that are made with the best ingredients, thoughtfully combined to create a dining experience that elevates and delights the senses. Similarly, I believe that the best supplements are made with the highest quality ingredients that work synergistically together to deliver benefits that elevate our daily quality of life. My unofficial title at OLLY (which even appears on my business cards) is “Top Chef.” One of our brand pillars is “delightful,” which means that taste is just as important as effectiveness. We want people to look forward to taking our products. Consequently, when we are choosing flavors for our gummy supplements, a lot of attention is paid to selecting flavors that will effectively mask and even enhance the natural flavor notes of the active components. We’ve found that citrus does an excellent job of masking fish oil, and berry flavors can help make phytonutrient-containing gummies taste rich and complex…like a good glass of wine.
Moms are usually responsible for the healthy choices of the entire family. What are important things moms should look for when supplementing their children and their partners?
The biggest hurdle for moms is typically compliance. If they want their family members to take supplements, the products have to be easy to take and taste good. Also, people are more inclined to stick with a supplement routine when they understand what’s in it for them. Similar to explaining to kids the importance of washing hands, moms need to educate their kids and partners on the health benefits. Simple messages like “staying strong” and “helping you grow” are perfect for kids, but I recently learned not to underestimate a child’s ability to make sense of health matters. I was explaining to my daughter that probiotics are a type of bacteria and she said, “but I thought bacteria were germs that are bad for us.” I said that some bacteria are good and some are bad. “Oh,” she said inquisitively, “so the good ones help fight the bad ones?” “Yes, exactly!” I exclaimed. It was a super proud mom moment.
Moms often are so busy taking care of their families, that they often put themselves last. What supplements do you think busy moms should be taking now for health, beauty and vitality?
A daily multivitamin helps to cover the nutritional bases, addressing nutrient gaps that exist from the not-so-perfect diet that roughly 90% of Americans have. But there is more to the daily than that. A growing number of randomized, controlled trials have shown that multivitamin supplementation can enhance mood and cognition while reducing stress and fatigue– benefits all busy moms could use. Another supplement essential is omega 3s, preferably from a marine source since so few people eat a minimum of two servings of fish a week ensuring their requirements for EPA and DHA are met. Omegas 3s are critical for healthy aging, including skin aging. Other beauty boosting supplements include biotin, which supports hair and nail growth, and vitamin C, which is required for the production of skin-firming collagen. There is also good scientific evidence that supplementing with collagen itself as well as hyaluronic acid, also know as the moisture molecule, can help keep skin smooth and supple.
What’s in your medicine cabinet right now?
Lots of fun things! I’ve got the full line of OLLYs on hand which I like to mix and match depending on how I feel and what I’ve had to eat that day. I almost always take my OLLY Alpha and Omega 3 and Solid Bones daily, but my two favorites are the Endless Beauty and Restful Sleep products. They both taste delicious with their Grapefruit Glam and Blackberry Mint flavors respectively and provide noticeable benefits. The combo has actually proven to be one of the most popular in the line. We’ve dubbed it “Sleeping Beauty,” but there is more to it than the cute name. Sleep is major determinant of skin aging, so there is a really good scientific rationale for pairing the two together.
You recently moved your family across the country to be part of launching OLLY. What was the biggest transition and how did you help your family manage it?
When we moved from Massachusetts to San Francisco, California where OLLY is based, we left behind the only home my children had ever known. We created a lot of wonderful memories together in that home, including countless after-dinner dance parties. The biggest transition besides cutting the physical footprint of our home almost in half (we gave away a lot of stuff!) was my shift from working at home to working in an office. I had worked from home for over ten years with my previous job. The arrangement was ideal when the kids were babies, but with my youngest about to be school-aged, I was craving the opportunity work in a more collaborative team environment. I was the seventh full-time employee to join OLLY. The whole team sits in one room sharing ideas all day long. It doesn’t get more collaborative than that! I love it, but commuting to the office everyday did require a few shifts in our daily home life. After the move, we quickly established a new routine that the kids could rely on and look forward to. Our new routine has wonderful new elements like going to the farmers market on Saturday and walking to our neighborhood café, which are things that didn’t exist in the ‘burbs of Massachusetts. We’ve made sure to preserve the most important elements of our old routine as well. I am happy to report that the after-dinner dance party is alive and well in California.
LAST CHANCE TO ENTER:
Razi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review (ndnr.com) and NaturalPath (thenatpath.com), has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.