In this conversation, Dr. Robert Pastore talks in depth about the problem with lead, arsenic and other heavy metals in plant-based protein, standards bodies like NSF and the Clean Label Project, and the direction of supplement regulation in the market.
Lexie: Welcome back to another episode of the Modus Movement. Today and every time we are joined by Dr. Robert Pastore who is the chief executive officer and chief science officer of Modus Nutrition. Today we are going to be talking a little bit about supplement safety. So there's so many supplements on the market that claim to be third party tested, the purest ingredients, the safest ingredients, but they don't have anything to back it up.
So Dr. Pastore, if you wanna start, just kind of covering ... there's a lot of articles out there right now that have been in the media recently talking about lead and arsenic and popular plant based protein powders. Can you tell us a little bit more about the safety aspects of that and where that's coming from?
Dr. Pastore: Absolutely. Thanks so much, Lexie. This is a great topic and something that I'm asked all the time. It's becoming a daily question now, and it is truly an interesting story. So I may start a little controversial, but it's only how you accept a dose of reality. Right? So many of us understand that we live in a polluted environment. We are no longer living in the paleolithic era, so like it or not, we have an intimate relationship with chemicals that are a product of living in an industrialized world.
Right? There's big businesses, there's major factories. There's no hiding from that, particularly when it comes to our foods. And the more we concentrate, as I'll explain, certain components of foods, you can sometimes unfortunately concentrate some of those compounds. Now what makes things even worse is if we have some further Environmental Protection Agency rollbacks here in the United States, that's another story, but it is a true one.
You know, there's limits, and rules, and regulations set for specific chemicals in our environment, and the further those are rolled back, and what I mean by that is a greater allowance of having toxic compounds in our society, the worse we're going to be battling this problem. The second thing we need to understand, and this is also a dose of reality that you should see people's eyes, you can see light bulbs going off, is when I say this: naturally, as part of planet Earth, there is arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury within our planet.
That's just part of the Earth itself. Now, granted, while that is natural, there's kinda more of a concentration of these chemicals as a result of human activities. And perfect examples of this would be, let's say we have a farm and you and I wanna plant some tomatoes, and grow some cucumbers. Well, if we're doing that pretty close by to a smelting plant, or a former smelting plant, or metal ore mines, or some type of fuel, fired, electric plant, that's a problem.
If you and I also wanna use more of the prolific pesticides and herbicides and fungicides that are used in commercial produce, we are definitely introducing various toxic metals as well as other ingredients that aren't very helpful for human consumption into our planting, and into our soil, and thus into our plants. If we're near production of batteries, we are also in trouble.
Sludge, sewage, waste by-products. These are all plant contamination risk factors, but what I also find fascinating about this topic, Lexie, is it also depends on the genus of plants. So one of my favorite genus of plants, which I just realized what a nerd I am that I have a favorite plant, is the Brassica genus of vegetables, and that's broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, kale, Brussels sprouts, watercress.
Lexie: Love all of those.
Dr. Pastore: Love all of those. They're a very interesting plant. There's some clinical research that shows those plants have more of a dusting risk for a toxic metal such as lead than a systemic risk, so even when they're in high risk soils they take up less of the lead into the plant and it's just a interesting defense mechanism that they have, and it's another great reason why we need to wash our produce.
Lexie: Now with that as well, is there a difference between organic and non-organic produce?
Dr. Pastore: That's a great question. I've dug deep throughout my entire career in this. So deep that it even lead me to a master's degree thesis, from someone ... I'm closing my eyes to get a better memory, from someone that was doing their master's thesis as part of their graduation in chemistry from Eastern Tennessee University, I wanna say, and so I've read everything from all the data on PubMed. Organic plants mean there's less of a chemical, and this is I guess I should say part three of the heavy dose of reality we're giving to you on the Modus Movement podcast today.
It doesn't mean zero. If you want, or if there's third parties that say, "Zero is the best way you should go and that's perfect," well guess what? You're living in a biosphere as part of NASA, somewhere in the desert in Arizona, or you're not breathing in air. If you wrote that blog on your third party website, breathing in oxygen and drinking your municipal water supply, after eating your spinach and kale salad, you were exposed to some level of metals.
Dr. Pastore: So that then brings me ... so yes, organic means less of, and that's absolutely a fact and no one can refute it. I'm not talking about nutrient content, which I could make a great debate towards, but just having toxic metal compounds, you're not gonna have a zero. That brings me to number three. Just because something is measurable doesn't mean it's extremely, immediately deleterious and harmful, and that's extremely difficult for people to grasp.
It's not when you're on an academic pursuit of a PhD, because there's a mantra and PhD-dom that is called correlation is not causation. To just immediately say something is guilty or, "All of this is going to happen because of ... " is a mistake. What comes to mind immediately is arsenic. There's inorganic arsenic and there's organic arsenic. It is not a great compound we want in our body, but different forms of that toxic metal have different effects and we actually, as human beings, have a phenomenal job of removing toxic substances from our bodies.
Lexie: Now can you just talk about that really quickly, of how the body gets rid of toxins and heavy metals that we consume in those minute amounts?
Dr. Pastore: Yeah, and in really small, minute amounts ... and thank you for mentioning that, because what I love is we're giving a dose of reality today, and we're trying to remove any type of fear factor, or fear appeals theory. If you guys wanna google that, it's actually a psychological term. Fear appeals theory, to try to sway someone towards a specific belief system, and that's something ... we've all known that from computers and software. "Oh my god, you can't switch from this operating system to that operating system or none of your stuff will work, and none of your files will sync," and you're stuck in this fear realm and you don't wanna move.
There's third parties that make these statements with regard to toxic metals, and I want the listening audience to know, fact, the human body has phase one and phase two detoxification enzyme systems. They're incredibly complex. We should do an entire podcast on this, but the human body will compartmentalize and break down ... in a healthy body, let's make that clear, and eradicate through different pathways, through sweat, through urine, through feces, various toxic components that we are exposed to. If we did not have that ability, we would not have the long life that we have.
We have people that live in polluted cities. We know that there's an enormous amount of air quality warnings from Los Angeles, and we have an entire Hollywood industry that comes out of that with beautiful people and healthy people, so people do survive in that environment. I'm broadcasting to you from ... if I'm one of these third party websites, may I say, from filthy Manhattan, where I'm raising my little baby girl, and I'm comfortable doing so. You know, having a healthy body, we will eliminate specific compounds that we're exposed to.
Now, having said that, we do have wonderful, true and real governing bodies that monitor and measure rates of harm, warn for specific rates of harm, and make sure that levels for toxic components are at extremely low levels in our food supply, or particularly in our supplement supply. With foods, pardon me that I wanna go back to that, but this previously mentioned big green kale salad with spinach, if you're eating that type of a meal what you must do, and I'm begging the audience to do, you will be exposed to extremely small trace quantities, even if it's organic, trace quantities of harmful substances that will be eliminated from the body while you're getting these amazing, replete, phenomenal nutrients that we need.
You know, some of the nutrients that are found in these Brassica genus vegetables actually help regulate the detoxification pathways of the human body. Calcium- D-glucarate is a byproduct of the Brassica genus vegetable processing and digestion. Indole-3-carbinol is a substance that is produced and prevalent in the human body after hyper consumption of these Brassica genus vegetables, and they end up accelerating phase one and phase two detoxification pathways, helping you get rid of toxic substances.
So you know, let's not freak out and cause for alarm you will find something harmful in everything. Way too much water is really bad for the body, and you can actually become hyponatremic, which means having seriously low levels of sodium, and then you're gonna have all the problems that are associated with having low sodium. So I just wanna make sure we had a dose of reality so we can get to the facts and the truth of the matter, so I hope I'm making sense today.
Lexie: Absolutely. So let's jump back sort of to the plant based protein powders. So how do these protein powders get these levels of toxins and heavy metals, and how detrimental could it be to your health?
Dr. Pastore: So first it really will come from these aforementioned sources. The main thing is the direct source of these plant based proteins are being farmed adjacent to one of these more modern sources of being in an industrialized society. Fossil fuels, pesticides, herbicides, all that harmful stuff. Fossil fuels utilization. In a non-organic source, you're going to have a higher level accumulate in this plant based proteins. For example, there's been publications on rice protein and rice based products having arsenic levels ... this is where I get concerned, listen to this sentence, "Arsenic levels above set limits by respectable government organizations."
And of course, one of my favorite governing bodies that I hope we get to talk about today, to kind of be like a watchdog of all the different agencies, which is NSF International, in my realm better known as NSF For Sport. When you exceed those levels ... and I would actually put NSF For Sport, if I may be so bold, at a higher level than these government organizations for this reason, proved through peer reviewed research, proved by them revealing their testing methodology, they are in concert with or work at a higher level of scrutiny to the levels that are set forth by the World Health Organization, the FDA, Health Canada, et cetera.
So when you look at that governing body, they are really minding the shop, and they have identified, and publications have identified the aforementioned rice protein having higher levels than any of these governing bodies, in particular the NSF, allowance for arsenic, pea proteins, higher levels than allowed for lead, and virtually down the spectrum of all the plant based proteins you can imagine. And again, the higher risk source truly is if you have a product that is starting from a non organic material.
Now, here's another reason why I love third parties in this realm. Just because something says organic, and I'm not being alarmist, I'm just saying do we really know that is? Like, who's minding the shop? So I think if you're a really reputable company, and you're going through all the legwork by the FDA, and you're following what's known as good manufacturing processes and you have a lab that is accredited, we're gonna give you the benefit of the doubt. I would never in a million years recommend a product that even went through that strict production to a professional athlete, or someone that really gives a darn about their body, without having the involvement of a third party like NSF.
Because I know how strict they are in their measurements, having known of them for 20 years, worked with them in my own work designing dietary supplements or plant based proteins being utilized by professional athletes, Olympics athletes, I know how strict they are and I love their process. They back it up, they publish it, and they use methodology that's well-accepted by all government organizations and universities.
Lexie: Now, for the plant based protein powders that might have those toxic levels, above government regulations let's say, we'll just go with the bare minimum, do they have to put any sort of warning on their protein? Like, people that are going to the shelves of grocery stores and they see all of these lined up. How do they know what's safe and what isn't?
Dr. Pastore: Wow, is that a great question, and it's a little bit of a tricky answer. There's a new rule that came out, and I believe it was in August of this year, where there's a specific law in the state of California known as ... it's abbreviated Prop 65, but it's known as Proposition 65, and it's a law specific to that state, California, and it's known as the safe drinking water and toxic enforcement act.
Now they set really strict levels, and specifically for lead, if we could just say that because it's so prevalent in a lot of the planet based proteins that are out there, particularly in P-based proteins. They set a level of .5 micrograms per serving, and if you are higher than that score under these brand new regulations you have to have this really frightening triangular warning sticker that this is a Prop 65 based product, and the language that comes with that is really not pleasant. Something to the effect of, "This is harmful in the state of California," et cetera.
And I think there's a grace period there, so to answer your question the reason it's tricky is if you're a company and you already have a product that's for sale on the market, and you kind of got through before ... it's on the shelves before this law was passed. There was always a Prop 65 law, but now there's this mandatory labeling of admittance that you kind of failed the testing. Wow. The only way, I feel deep in my heart, that a product would be safe is if I knew it was on the shelves and it beared the seal of NSF For Sport certification.
That's really how I feel, and that also was minus that California labeling law. Why can I say that if there's a grace period? 'Cause this California labeling law, because the NSF is so meticulous about labeling laws ... in addition to the purity of products, really, really militant with government regulations, that they would more than likely call the company and say, "You have to do a recall on these products. You have to add a sticker to these products that state that there's a problem there, and we would not be able to certify you."
So I think it's just so critical to have kind of that NSF For Sport certification present, not just for being a professional athlete but to know someone's really watching. 'Cause, look, the World Health Organization is not gonna call that little pea or rice plant processing company and blow the whistle on them. They're not gonna do it. The resources are not there government wise, and I'm pretty sure Health Canada is not gonna do that as well. What I love about NSF is they're constantly testing your products. They do these blind testings. They actually buy your products from your website, if you're available over the counter or over the counter, they test you throughout the year.
You can't even release a new lot. For example, I made a plant based protein that is NSF For Sport certified, and to make another round of that protein back in the lab you have to start all over again with NSF, and I love that. And further, the lab itself has to be NSF For Sport certified to qualify. And I should add, for the audience, it's not just the toxic chemicals which we're talking about today, which are heavy metals of lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, to name a few. It's well over 270-plus different chemicals that can find their way into our food, living in this type of environment that we live in.
And that really makes you way more focused. For me, I never needed the self-correction, but for other companies that may have violated and may have had a product that's high in lead, if they got involved with NSF For Sport they're gonna immediately start looking at, "What's my raw material source? Where do I manufacture my products?" And I think it's a great wake up call for them.
Lexie: Now let's say you're outside of California, and there's no NSF For Sport certification on your protein, Prop 65 doesn't apply, you're saying that pretty much it's a guessing game. You are throwing your health up in the air when you're picking a protein that doesn't have a proper certification.
Dr. Pastore: Wow. I'm gonna absolutely say it's the wild west. I do believe ... look, reality point number four, much to the chagrin of people who may attack dietary supplements, dietary supplements in the United States absolutely are monitored by the Food and Drug Administration. There is a law called DSHEA, you have to very carefully walk and monitor that law to be a really solid dietary supplement manufacturing company.
People break the law, right? There's laws with ... that's why we have a police force, it's why we have the military. Things go wrong in an organized society and there's problems there. I think the FDA is just way too spread thin and they can't do the policing that a certified third party body can do, and I think there's a lot of companies out there, sadly ... I don't wanna say a lot, but maybe I should say a lot, that try to skirt around the reality of purity in products and what they're giving to the consumers. So I would be really frightened there.
Now if a listener of mine said, "Hey, well wait a minute. I love this container and I'm taking this every day and it does not have that stamp, so are you saying, Dr. Pastore, that that means it's toxic?" No, but you know what? Why not make a phone call to the company? Why not get in touch with the company and say, "You know, I'd love this letter I wrote to get on the desk of your chief science officer." Do they have a chief science officer? Does he have credentials? You know, I think those are important things because you're just not going to see a company that's well-run, that actually has people that are well-educated that are manufacturing the products, hopefully you won't, trying to make things that have toxic compounds in them.
So that's a long-winded response, sorry about that, but it truly is, Lexie, the wild west with some of these companies. They're launching things out there and they're kind of contaminated and is there any harm to going to NSF and searching for a product that fits your needs? Then I can tell you, I can vouch, and I wanna make clear I'm not paid for, do not work for the NSF. I'm not paid by them. I actually pay them a lot of money. I love the fact that they exist because they're the reason that Olympic athletes can take products that are safe. They prevent people from getting into trouble. Regardless of professional athletes, there's people that perform at a very high level of their sport and they are indeed still tested, and it will ruin their entire reputation, and their entire sport on the line.
So NSF just immediately removes that concern for the general consumer. There's a level of safety there.
Lexie: Now, one of the things where all of this kind of bad press for plant based proteins, where it originally started was the Clean Label Project, where they bought a whole bunch of different protein powders and they ran tests and they came out with a list of the top performing ones and the ones that didn't do so well and failed the test. Can you kind of provide your insight on the testing that they did, and what your overall thoughts are on that?
Dr. Pastore: Absolutely, and for background for our listeners, as ... Lexie, excellent intro to that. The Clean Label Project is this non-profit organization, and they kinda do ... they present and market their assessment of different food products. They first came on my radar for baby food. If you were to look that up online, you'd see, "Wow, there's all these reports of various toxic chemicals that were found in baby food." My wife was pregnant at the time so of course I wanted to read about that.
They've done some reports on pet food, and then yes, then into dietary protein where it's kind of like the levee broke. Now, to the best of my knowledge, they state that they believe in transparency in consumer product labeling. They have faced some criticism. In the popular press, they were criticized in an article that was published in Forbes. There's kind of a whistleblower website called Snopes that's out there and they wrote a piece about them. They absolutely sparked a response by the Natural Products Association, with quotes from a doctor that I respect immensely. His name is Dr. Daniel Fabricant, and why I respect Daniel so much is he's an extremely well-educated individual with a PhD, don't quote me on it, I believe it's in pharmacology.
But like, super smart. Definitely science-based PhD. Worked for the FDA, kinda was like a watchdog to make sure the supplement companies were doing the right thing, and then ended up switching sides, so to speak, and he works at a very high level for the Natural Products Association. I believe he's even the CEO, but I'm more interested in his science. So he wrote some pretty intense quotes about this, and then lastly ... as far as what I've seen in the media, and then I'll get to my opinion, lastly someone I really respect, the executive vice president and chief technical officer for NSF International, the group that I was talking about, wrote a letter that was not 100% in favor of the Clean Label product.
So what is my opinion on them? So my opinion is based on several facts and as to this date of this recording, of this podcast, there's been no ... to the best of my knowledge, no peer reviewed research published of any kind on the findings that they promote on their website, and I find that a little concerning. So to state certain brands of baby food or protein powders contain a toxic substance, and, "Headline: toxic substance found in ... " and release that information without submitting to a journal for publication, it just doesn't make sense to me and it just doesn't feel right. It makes me think, "Is there something not standardized about the work or the methodology that is concerning?"
Why not attempt to publish such groundbreaking work? Or if you're starting this non-profit, why not align yourself with NSF? I really respect the work of NSF. I've known them for 20 years. In my opinion, it's not only me saying this and my peers, but all of pro sports in America, and I believe now a lot in international, but in America agree with me that NSF For Sport is the definitive public safety organization.
Lexie: And one of the first questions that I get is when I'm talking to a professional athlete, it's, "Are the products NSF For Sport certified?" That is one of the first questions because this is their career on the line. If they get tested and come back positive, your career is over.
Dr. Pastore: Yeah, it's over, and there's no ... may I put it this way? If you think about it in layman's terms, the system for identifying safe and clean products already exists and it's called the NSF sport certification process. Their process is based on sound science. If you ... if an athlete were to present a letter from the Clean Label products saying, "This product is safe according to the Clean Label Project, can I take this?" And it does not bear any seal by NSF, that product will be banned in the locker room.
Because there's really no validation for what they're saying on an academic level, on a peer review science level, and there was criticism when they first did this, and the Forbes article came out. They didn't share the methodology. When I just kinda took a peek, one of the representatives for the company wrote a scathing argument back saying, "This is our methodology," but the methodology it used termed like modified version of the FDA analysis for lead, and I'm like, "Modified how? And what was the exact process that you did? And publish that so we could see if it actually has value."
Because then it makes me think of what I said at the beginning of this conversation. I, talking to you, Lexie, right now from the 47th floor in Manhattan where there is a polluted environment. I am not dying during this podcast. I'm sure I'm not breathing the most pure air in the world, and that's how human bodies work. Right? So there's an extreme cause for alarm and panic, and then there's true alarm and panic, and that's if NSF said, "Flagged. This product has a problem. This product cannot pass. This product is high in lead. This product X, Y, and Z, should have a California prop," whatever. That's when you really want to start being concerned and avoid that product.
That's called common sense, logical approaches. Knowing there's a governing body to make sure what you're consuming is safe. So I just feel if there was a meeting of the minds, and there was a direct conversation between these two organizations, we would have different test results, to be very honest. Again, sorry that I'm so redundant but correlation is not causation. The presence of a substance does not mean that substance is the most toxic thing on the planet. Here's a great example, and I want you to also know how just really profound NSF is at identifying substances.
When I had athletes in my office and they would talk about NSF, I would say, "Do you know NSF can identify a drop of testosterone in an Olympic-sized swimming pool?" And they will definitely ban that product for use if they found that tiny, tiny microgram of that performance enhancing substance in a swimmer that's about to enter the Olympics. That swimmer's gonna get pulled, they probably will lose any achievements. But do you know what? At the end of the day, that quantity is not gonna give them a greater size of musculature. That's how strict NSF is; that's who I wanna work with. So if NSF says to me, "Hey, Robert. You know what? There's not any concern of lead in this product that we have our stamp on."
I know for a scientific fact that that is a fact, and that makes me feel comfortable.
Lexie: Perfect. Now, moving forward, let's say in the next five to 10 years, where do you see supplement regulations going versus where do you think they should go?
Dr. Pastore: What I hope happens, and this is what part of my own mission is, I want more of an awareness in the public's eye of the importance of NSF For Sport. I am afraid of people jumping on the bandwagon with maybe not the best intentions, maybe thinking, "If I have a spokesperson that is incredibly famous, and I wanna launch a product that maybe was not made as a dietary supplement under the best manufacturing processes as set forth by the FDA and of course NSF." Are they worth ... do they feel that the risk of fined by the FDA and shutting them down doesn't matter compared to the short term profit they would make? That's a concern I have, because there's products that have been out there, there's stories in the media, there have been product that absolutely without a doubt have contained pharmaceuticals and got passed with just lies.
Kinda like how politicians get elected with a lot of crap and skeletons in their closet. Why do we point just fingers at one industry saying, "They're 100% to blame?" For the love of god, cigarettes are legal in the United States. You can't get anymore accurate than, "Something will kill you." Yet it's not banned. But yet we will see all these groups say, "Dietary supplements should just be pulled off the market in general 'cause this one company had a problem." So I think we could change that in a minute if the FDA even said, "Let's completely adopt the certification principles of the NSF."
Now we just got rid of all the muck, all the garbage. We're completely cleaning house, and we're having more pure and safer products in the public.
Lexie: Now do you think with the saturation of the market that that would ever happen? Because technically, I could buy a whole bunch of different protein sources from China and have them shipped to my house, dump in some flour, dump in some creatine, dump in some filler, package that and then sell that as protein. I have no idea what's in it, I just tossed a whole bunch of stuff in and made it taste good. So do you think that with all the supplements that are being launched right now, and people trying to take advantage of people being more aware that protein is important in their diet, would that ever happen?
Dr. Pastore: That's a ... by the way, I trust you. You're a great person. That's a scary scenario that I'm sure exists. I mean, with the FDA rules and regulations you're supposed to go through all these amazing benchmarks, I know I do. The products that I produce are manufactured in a lab that is more strict to pharmaceuticals. To just flavor the protein that I worked on, you'd swear I was making chips for Microsoft covered in a complete, head-to-toe suit, like a speck of my skin is toxic apparently. But no, seriously, pardon my sense of humor but that's where I come from in the work that I do. The world you are discussing I know is real, because these people are getting busted.
There's been prison sentences. There was a company that was actually putting performance enhancing drugs, an ergogenic aid, meaning something that's supposed to enhance performance of an athlete, and actually selling it as a dietary supplement. It's a federal crime. When you're caught you could serve jail. On a lower scale, there's massive fines. They shut you down. It's frightening, and I think people are trying to get away with that. But then there's this level right above that which is companies that are like, "You know what? I'm following the bare minimum of the FDA, I manufacture my products in a cheaper lab that actually got warning letters by the FDA, you could find them online, they don't go away. But I'm comfortable, and I only do their standard in-house testing for my metals and the FDA accepts that because they're a registered lab and they don't have the bandwidth, so I might get away with this for three to five years."
Those are the companies that scare me, and that's where I think NSF is so critical and the knowledge is most important. Consumer knowledge, consumer education. Someone needs to get on a large platform area, maybe a major talk show that's involved with health, and to just talk about the science and the academic importance, and the population importance, of a group like NSF for certifying the safety of these products so we could take it outside of just the elite athlete realm. I've actually had some doctors say to me, doctors, "It doesn't matter, the NSF Sport really doesn't matter to me." And that's where what we are talking about today is even way more important, 'cause we didn't take the turn into people that are sick, people that are unfortunately, knock on wood, not super healthy and you don't want a lot of stuff to get into them.
When I was practicing clinical nutrition, there was a list of foods that I would not give to a patient that was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, and guess what? They were healthy foods, and this was very well known, very well accepted in textbooks. Not some alternative view website. I'm not shouting at that as being a negative thing, there's probably great information there, but I'm saying in accredited universities with academic textbooks that have been accepted as law to get a degree would say, "These foods are not wise at this moment in time in your life." And the same exact thing during pregnancy, right? Soft cheeses in a pregnant woman? Doesn't make sense. Consuming honey and the risk for botulism.
So it's something that we would normally be able to deal with as healthy people. When you turn the page to physicians meaning well and prescribing a nutrient for a patient, wow, does NSF For Sport matter. 'Cause you really wanna get ... I can't say this loud and strong enough, and I wish my voice could be bold, like when you're typing. NSF is militant at the values they identify of various harmful substances that you will find way above and beyond even a third party looking out, like the Clean Label Project or whoever else is gonna come up the next day. It's a very expensive and extensive process. It's weeks of analytic testing in accredited laboratories to identify various substances, so I want the public to know how important that is, and it should be part of their day to day.
Lexie: And that's something that I became aware of listening to you talk about NSF for so long. My multivitamins that I take, my fish oils, I have started buying NSF certified products only, and even my plant based sweetener that I have is NSF certified because I know what's going in it, and I just ... I want my body to live as long as possible, be as healthy as I can, and NSF ... like, yes it's more expensive for the product, but you care about your customers. You care about their health, you care about the quality of the ingredients that go into it, and that's the companies that I wanna be aligned with personally.
Dr. Pastore: Absolutely, and what's so great is it's someone that's policing you, and it's not that there's a lack of trust, but we all wanna work together as a team. And I love the labs where I produce my work, and I'm in there and my hands are dirty and I'm involved in every step of everything that I manufacture. It is honestly a part of me, and I love them as if they're ... pardon this weird saying, but I used to say these are like my children when I make these things, and I have a beautiful little girl so it sounds like I'm actually being insulting there, but I hope that the listeners can hear my passion about how much I deeply care about what I make.
It's ... god, first do no harm. Let's make the cleanest thing you possibly can, and you have this great relationship with this lab and they show you all of their accreditation and how they're regulated by the FDA, but then you say, "There's always a what-if." Now we call in NSF, and NSF will make sure they ... the lab, of course, has to be certified by them, but I mean they will swab the drains of the waste of the lab. I could go on for such a long time. I've known them for so many years in my career, and their toxicology department is second to none. What I have to do to get just my work to work with NSF is really remarkable. You know? I'll put together a hard drive's size of just safety data on humans on an ingredient I want to use as part of my presentation to NSF.
So before they even have a product, they're just completely examining the lab where I wanna do anything, completely examining my work, my formulas, what I want to introduce as a product, and then of course the massive scrutiny of making the product itself. And you know what I didn't even discuss, and I just realized, in all the lectures in all the years I've given, I've never mentioned, Lexie? When you go through the NSF For Sport certification process and it's timed with your production, I've had the product ready to go, done, with no label on it. I cannot legally sell that product until NSF makes that call and gives us that beautiful certification that was passed, and gives me this font of four 19-page printout of all the chemicals tested on everything I've invented, and when they say, "Go," then we can finally turn on the printing press and then get the label on the bottle.
It's just so awesome how strict they are, and even though I know I dotted all my I's and crossed all my T's, you should see, I still hold my breath. 'Cause it's a remarkable process, and there's so many other people involved in that process that it really is this alternate, amazing juggernaut of safety. But it's also safety within these realms of reality, you know? It's really cool, so they're super strict, measuring the tiniest, tiniest quantities you could imagine, but in a way that's true, real, accredited, and it's a governing body that is on par and way past those that run our societies. Health Canada, FDA, World Health Organization, what holds us together as a healthy society, and questioning about public health? That's NSF.
So you are so smart to do that. 'Cause just like the choices you make in what you're gonna put in your body, why not do that with your sweetener? Why not do that with your fish oil? And this isn't a fish oil show, but, hello? Our oceans are absolutely beyond contaminated. Just look at that, right? So you're so smart, getting a fish oil that does not have mercury that's in a range that could hurt you. One of the smartest things anyone could do, and I ask everyone to do exactly what Lexie is doing. That's a super wise way to take care of yourself.
Lexie: And I really hope that that's what a lot of the listeners get out of this today, is that not all the supplements out there that claim to be the safest and the purest have the research and the science to back it up. So when you are looking for new products to introduce into your daily routine, just be very, very mindful. Do your research, look at the science that the company has, look at the certifications, and just put your health first.
Dr. Pastore: Definitely. Definitely, and what I also love about NSF, if I may continue on that thought, is just how militant they also are, Lexie, as to the original laws set forth by the FDA. So the FDA has this very strict rule known as DSHEA, and it's this dietary supplement health act, and it fascinates me that if an ingredient is not under the regulations of that ruling by the FDA, immediately you don't qualify for NSF. So if you and I were to go into the Brazilian rainforest, and we found the bark of some tree that heretofore was never used as a dietary supplement, and holy cow, it may do something phenomenal.
And we know it's been in this pristine environment, and you and I could purify it in a lab and we know it doesn't even contain a toxin. It's safe. And it's been consumed for let's say 2,000 years by indigenous peoples. That cannot pass NSF For Sport certification, and the answer is it does not have a filing the with Food and Drug Administration as a new dietary ingredient, and you and I would have to get together and form a whole business, and bring in tons of people, and a lot of money, to then prove to the FDA under independent review of a roomful of PhD's from multiple different universities that this is a safe ingredient for humans to consume. And then and only then, when they give it that stamp of approval and GRAS status and all this stuff you need, will the NSF even consider that ingredient being utilized.
So I always want to ... I mean, wow, we could just do a whole thing just on everything they look at. It's not just toxicity, it's also safety, it's acceptance. It's rules, regulations, paperwork, all these things that keep a society real. But there's so many things that have been outside that in what we're consuming, and that's what I love about the governing body of NSF keeping us safe.
Lexie: Awesome. Just to wrap things up, do you have any sort of concluding statements about supplement safety and regulations, and what people should look for?
Dr. Pastore: Yeah. Know who is behind your dietary supplement product that you love. Get to know the company, you know? Who's involved? Who's making what? I think that's an important thing right there. What are their values? Do they do anything outside that realm? Is there anyone that's part of the company that lectures on what ... ? I think that's important to know, and I think that's interesting, and you get to know and actually become one with that company. I know I do that in things that I like and enjoy in life.
Number two, really start to question. If you don't see NSF For Sport certification on the product that you really love and enjoy, it doesn't hurt to call the company and ask them why not. Maybe that wasn't on their radar. Maybe they would say to you, "You know what? That's a darn good idea. We didn't think of it 'cause we just thought we weren't catering to athletes." Well, you're really concerned with your body, and what makes an athlete better than you in that regard? So you know, seek out purification, have conversations with people that are making your dietary supplements, and if that is something you don't wanna do, cut to the chase and pull a Lexie and go right to what's branded as NSF For Sport certification and at least when you go to bed at night, you know what you are consuming past one heck of a round of battery of tests, as did the lab and the company to prove that they are legit and safe.
Lexie: And if anyone that is listening has questions, concerns, comments about anything that we talked about today, if you send us an email to email@example.com any of those emails will be sent directly to Dr. Pastore to answer and we do plan on doing Q and A sessions of podcasts from our audience listeners. So if you do have questions, other people likely do as well, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. We are more than happy to answer any questions that you have.
Dr. Pastore: Absolutely. It's our pleasure.
Lexie: So thanks so much for listening, and we will see you next time on the Modus Movement.