What do Michelle Obama, Drew Barrymore and Zac Efron all have in common? Clue: it’s green, fizzy and you add it to water. 8Greens is the buzzy new supplement brand which has already garnered a loyal following among the aforementioned A-listers across the pond and landed in the UK this week. We know, we know, we really don't need yet another celebrity-endorsed wellness product, but given the Obamas are reportedly fans, it piqued our interest at least.
Michelle has always been a big healthy eating advocate. As First Lady, she led the Let's Move! public health campaign in the States and planted an organic vegetable garden at the White House, where she grew the likes of rocket and kale for meals with her family and guests. But the celeb following behind 8Greens is in large part down to founder Dawn Russell's own personal celebrity connections - she counts Gwyneth Paltrow and Drew Barrymore among her pals, and Zac Efron has posted about it. Russell says others heard of it organically through "word of mouth found," and when it first launched on Nordstrom it sold out in three hours. Her journey into the world of supplements was inspired by her own experience being diagnosed with stage III lymphatic cancer aged just 25 and subsequent recovery, though she is quick to assure that she is not promoting a link between her health today and taking the supplement.
But while we mere mortals know we need to eat more greens in our diet to promote things like better gut health – with many dieticians now recommending you aim for at least 30 different plants in your diet each week – not all of us have an organic food budget (or veg patch to grow our own on) so Russell says she wants to make it easier for even the biggest refuseniks to add more greens to their diets with her fizzy tablets, which contain extracts of eight phytonutrient-rich dehydrated greens to be exact: spinach, kale, aloe vera, wheatgrass, blue green algae, barley grass, chlorella and spirulina.
8Greens: a nutritionist's verdict
We know by now that when it comes to nutrition there's no such thing as a 'magic pill' - it's always better to source your nutrients from real food over supplements where possible. "Whole foods contain a wide variety of nutrients, phytochemicals (chemicals found naturally in plants), fibre and water too," says nutritionist Jenna Hope. Often the health benefits of eating whole fruits and vegetables come from "the combination of minerals and nutrients working in synchrony with each other – and from the fibre content which feeds our good gut bacteria and drives whole body health – which is lacking when we isolate nutrients," adds registered nutritionst Charlotte Faure Green.
Russell insists that while her supplements shouldn't be considered a replacement to a healthy diet, she describes it as a daily "booster." The heavy B vitamin content is designed to support energy levels, while vitamin C promotes a healthy-functioning immune system and by including dehydrated plant extracts (meaning they have not been heated), the brand says it has preserved the naturally-occurring phytonutrients they contain.
What do health experts make of 8Greens? "Ingredients like chlorella, barley grass, spirulina, are all rich sources of antioxidants and polyphenols, all of which act as anti-inflammatory compounds in the body and help to reduce inflammation and oxidative damage that occurs just from day-to-day living," says Faure Green. But she adds that they have also been heavily subsidised with added synthetic vitamins to meet the nutrient claims they make.
Generally speaking, vitamin C is best taken in food form, or in a slow-release capsule, so it is gradually absorbed throughout the day. "In one hefty dose in an effervescent tablet, it may be urinated out before being made useful, and may irritate sensitive bladders on the way out," she continues. "But I like they use a non-methylated form of vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) – the methylated form which is commonly used in off-the-shelf supplements is often an unsuitable form and may increase anxiety in some."
There is clearly a benefit in the convenience of tablets like 8Greens. "Greens powders can be a useful way to get additional nutrients into their daily diet, particularly if they have issues with digestion and so may not be able to digest fibrous greens in the amount they need to hit their daily nutrient goals (or have a deep aversion to eating any fresh fruit or vegetables). The tablet form of 8Greens is super convenient, more so than the old tubs of powders, so on days when you might be jumping on a flight or heading out for dinner where you know the vegetables may be scarce, they could be useful."