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Nutritional Hormesis: Are polyphenols the future of nutrition?

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

NORDIQ supplements
NORDIQ supplements
A former vegetarian chef with a passion for purity is staying true to his roots with his organic plant-based supplements which he hopes will bring nutritional hormesis to the fore of the wellbeing market.

Alex Kirchin, technical director for NORDIQ Nutrition​, hopes his range of polyphenol-packed capsules and powders will open consumers’ eyes to the health benefits of nutritional hormesis which he says will be key in the future of health and nutrition.

His passion for pure and organic plant power began from an early age, growing up with a mother who was seen as ‘a bit of a hippy’ but who he now realises was a real health ‘pioneer’.

“I remember my mum giving me carrot juice when I was a teenager and friends coming round saying ‘what on earth is that?’

“Mum was a bit of a hippy I suppose. She was very into her health and she had asthma and a doctor had suggested this could be diet related so she followed a whole foods, vegetarian diet and always cooked from scratch, partly because there weren’t many vegetarian products out in the market back then.

“Now I realise she was part of a pioneering force without realising it.”

Nutritional Hormesis

Kirchin began his career as a vegetarian chef before going on to complete a nutrition consultants diploma at ION, a Nutritional Science Masters and studied for a degree in Herbal Medicine before becoming a technical director for global food supplement brands Viridian and Solgar UK.

He explains that he now realises the diet his mother followed was tapping into a process known as nutritional hormesis.

"I describe it with the old notion 'what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger'.

“Plants products some defence mechanisms and which we then consume through plants with polyphenols such as turmeric, green tea, kale, pine bark and lingonberry.

“When you consume these components they are like a low dose stress at a cellular level which switches on certain pathways which are anti inflammatory and detoxifying.

“Whilst we have certain nutritionally activated defence mechanisms, by consuming these we can actually trigger a second line of defence which supports mitochondria which has connection with lifespan.”

It has been suggested that dietary restriction, physical exercise and heat and cold exposure may also act as a mild stresses to our bodies that enhance life span through hormesis.

Kirchin even argues that this might be a key to unlocking some of the Western health problems.

"Hormesis also includes the Scandi lifestyle health model of active outdoor lifestyle, sauna - hot and cold exposure - exercise and dietary habits.  Perhaps in many western countries we are not challenging ourselves enough."

Kirchin explains why the organic angle is so important to the polyphenol content of the supplements.

“Organic plants that are exposed to the stresses and strains of the heat and cold and all the elements and bugs increases their nutritional load and phytonutrient density.”

With consumers growing a strong understanding and belief in the benefits of plant-based diets, Kirchin says he can really see this area of science becoming a much bigger part of nutrition in the future.

“We talk about the vegan diet. If people are getting good results from a healthy, diverse vegan diet it could be partly due to the complexity and diversity of polyphenols in that diet.”

Prevention prevails

Pointing out that there has been a ‘push against synthetics’ and pharmaceuticals of late as people start to look for more natural and preventative remedies, Kirchin says polyphenols are sure to come out on top.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future there’s a polyphenols category. It’s not just about vitamins, minerals and macronutrients, phytochemistry is an important part of health and I think we are starting to see a shift in some of the products coming to the market.

“Beetroot juice has suddenly moved into the sports nutrition area and is being touted as good for Iron Man training and people are really singing its praises for the results.

“Also, cherry juice, which started in arthritic care, is now an anti-oxidant super star.

“The products getting the most results have the high yields of antioxidants, specifically polyphenols, which ​help support cellular communication and drive mitochondria health and integrity."

The range

Alex was instrumental in formulation design and scientific concepts and the brand was developed by expert UK and Scandinavian sales and marketing teams.

With a HQ in Helsinki, the products were initially launched in Finland and the Nordic countries in 2017 and are now available in the UK, Holland, the US and Ireland with aspirations for expansion into Spain and Italy very soon.

The brand includes a range of 12 vegan lifestyle formulas and 5 vegan sports performance powder blends and plays on its Scandinavian roots through its sleek Nordic style packaging and name and packaging.

The ‘Hero products’ in the range are the Magnesium powder, the pre and post workout formulas and the B complex. launched in the UK in January this year.

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