Our Journey to Sustainability

Our Journey To Sustainability


Today I took over all of EFFI Foods’ social feeds because I personally wanted to share my company’s humble journey to sustainability. 

#EarthDay is the best day to announce our commitment to moving to 0 waste!!! This has been our goal, our dream, our mission since inception. 



• Every time I came close to finding the right solution, there was an obstacle that took my team and I back to the drawing board. We are not a fashion brand, we make food, and compromise on quality is not an option. But the eco-packaging materials that we’ve found significantly decreased our product shelf life and, possibly, stability. 

• The other big issue was (and still is) finding gimmick-free solutions: I never really understood the packaging that’s made from 70% eco material and the remaining 30% from plastic. How are people going to recycle or biodegrade “partial” packaging?

• We’ve been searching for environmentally-friendly solutions since we launched the first probiotic bar line years ago. They were 100% raw and had live cultures, it was impossible to find a bar wrapper that wouldn’t compromise the shelf stability and shelf life. 

🙌🏼 Opportunity:

With our new line – Chickpea Granola – my team and I are vigilantly exploring the possibilities of eco-packaging and trying to close the gap between affordability, shelf stability and logistics.  

There are still only a few manufacturers in the world that produce sustainable films and materials. Most current printers’ machinery (that turn raw film into pouches or bar wrappers) are not compatible with new materials, or sometimes printers don’t care about adjusting their business or machinery to accommodate the demand. 

We’ve played ‘matchmakers’ between printers and raw film producers, we even toyed with the idea of shortening our shelf life, we’ve explained to retailers that people wanted green packaging and are willing to pay for it (this is not true!) 

Now, my company is closer than ever to make our  ‘zero waste’ dream a reality. We are more hopeful than ever that technology, collective awareness of the fragility of our planet, and common sense will continue birthing green packaging solutions for companies of all sizes. 

🌎🌱 Our commitment is to replace all packaging materials throughout our supply chain to 100% eco-packaging by 2021. 🌱🌎

— Carina Ayden, Founder | CEO 

#effifoods #earthday2019 #sustainablesolutions #initiative





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all the ‘girl stuff’ and winning traits of leadership with founder of veamly
Interview series

all the ‘girl stuff’ and winning traits of leadership with founder of veamly

Carina Ayden: When I first met you, I was mesmerized by your level of self-confidence. It’s enchanting, empowering and extremely contagious. Later, you shared with me that some people saw your confidence as arrogance which used to bother you, but not anymore. Can you tell me what changed?

Emna Ghariani: I guess what changed is self-growth. I realized that, at the end of the day, what I care about the most is delivering value. And I realized when people get over themselves they still get to learn from me. Usually people perceive my attitude as arrogant; Usually, when I go on stage I have a lot to share and a lot to say. Many people perceive my attitude as arrogance, because a lot of people still confuse confidence with arrogance, especially a woman’s confidence. I guess the reason I stopped caring is because I stopped caring about what other people think of me. I care about delivering value because I like sharing knowledge and support other women, and that’s what matters at the end of the day.


People still confuse confidence with arrogance, especially a woman’s confidence.


C.A: You support your tech startup by curating very unique ‘side hustles’. How many hats do you actually wear?

E.G: Oh gosh… Yes, there are many hats: from coaching to building software, mobile apps, web apps and anything in terms of consulting, especially from the business and marketing side. I am also an advisor to several start-ups; I help them with coaching, customer and business development. I’m also a chapter lead director of the Founder Institute in Tunisia, which is one of the largest startup programs in the world. But my main and the most important ‘hat’ is being the founder and the CEO of my company Veamly.


C.A: How do you overcome any fears of failure? Do you have any ‘proprietary formula’ you could share?

E.G: I guess it’s my background of growing up with zero stability. I changed homes multiple times and I never took anything for granted. Deep inside I always know that nothing is granted so I just go, it’s just that simple.

I don’t know how or if I have a particular formula in that sense. I have this feeling brewing inside, that no matter what happens, I always get up again. A lot of things happened in my personal and professional life early on; I fell to the ground but, surprisingly, stood up again. Nothing is the end of the world. I guess if I were to give advice, it’d be to really practice self-awareness, in terms of what is really happening and seeing the odds.

I have a balance between being super confident, having a ‘no-matter-what-happens-we’ll-make-it-work’ attitude, and being aware and conscious that the risk of failure is there.


C.A: What is the winning makeup of an entrepreneur?

E.G: What makes you an entrepreneur is your passion. Then is the ability to hustle, to keep going. There is also that feeling that you cannot explain, a constant internal desire that you want to do things differently, impact the world and be the change. You know, be the change.


C.A: Is there any difference between work relationships with men and women?

E.G: OMG of course, yes. As a woman working in Silicon Valley I feel it more than I ever felt it in Tunisia. In Tunisia powerful women are, somehow, automatically respected. I’m grateful that I haven’t been the victim of sexual harassment, or let’s say I haven’t experienced it as deeply as other people. Despite the common misconception of women in tech, I’m very feminine: I often wear dresses and I love my heels. Silicon Valley, unfortunately, is still a male dominated industry. So being a woman, navigating all this can be challenging and emotionally draining.


C.A: I’m always being asked if I figured out the work/life balance. There’s an expectation to be this ‘wholesome’ woman. Do you strive for a balanced life or do you think it’s a hoax?

E.G: It’s a tricky question. I really do want to have a balanced life, yet at this particular stage of my life and the stage of my company it’s very hard. I do believe though that balance can make us more productive, more efficient and better overall. With that being said, I do love what I do, so when they say ‘when you love what you do, you don’t work a day in your life’, this is the case for me. I love being at work, and I don’t see it as work because I am building something awesome that I believe in. I also love my team; I feel like this mama and they are a huge part of who I am today. That’s my passion in life. I don’t feel that I am not balanced by working a lot, because I’m meeting a lot of interesting people and things like that are fun for me, it’s not work. I also like to dance, hike, go for a swim or just watch a movie and hang out at home. I really learned to create a balance in terms of having a stable home.


C.A: As a female tech entrepreneur what is your advice to girls who dream about making it big in Silicon Valley?

E.G: Don’t take ‘No’ for an answer. Don’t listen to any type of social biases. Be aware of the problems. Being a woman in tech is not easy but don’t let it be a factor in any decisions you make in your daily operations or strategical decisions. But what’s going to make you successful is not your sex, whether female or male or however else you define yourself as. It’s really about your ability to execute and grow and pursue your dream. It’s your grit and those are really the true secrets.


C.A: We’ve all now heard of the heavyweight Hollywood producer (Harvey Weinstein) being accused of sexually harassing women for decades. Hollywood’s most prominent female actors from Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow came out to speak on this matter. Silicon Valley is a male-dominated place. What is your experience and what advice would you give young women trying to navigate the tech world?

E.G: Because of the media and everything that’s happening right now and the #metoo movement I became more aware, I started noticing rooms that I enter are full of men and no women.  I would give the same advice as I gave earlier which is to really focus on your power, your unique value proposition as a person and as a company and that you are there to make a business deal. Whether they see it or not is another story. Be the change by changing how things are done.


C.A: With your company’s unique algorithm and deep learning technology you’re trying to solve the biggest issue – communication. What are the main barriers of communication between people you come across in your daily life?

E.G: Perception and assumption. These 2 words are so huge in the problems of communication. We all perceive the world based on the culture we grew up in, on the rules we have, what we read, and the experiences we came across. It’s very hard to change that perception unless you have the self-awareness. I am a big believer in self-awareness. The same thing with assumption. So we just assume and perceive things in our own way and even more so with written communication.


C.A: What lesson have you learned that you would want to pass forward?

E.G: My biggest lesson was to never take ‘No’ for an answer and to really trust yourself. It might be difficult, because as women we tend to undervalue ourselves, we tend to be scared of admitting who we are, admitting that we are good at something. It took me a long time to say “I am good at this, I am not arrogant by saying this, I just know I am good at that and I can make it happen.”


C.A:For the most of my life, I found it “easier” to shrink myself to avoid confrontation, or to fit into someone else’s ‘box’. When I went through, what I call a ‘transition period’, during which, I wanted to be unboxed and stand up tall,  I was immediately granted a “bitch” title. So I live the saying “between a rock and a hard place”. In hope of healing and indulging my emotional bruises, I keep on searching for infamous “middle ground” aka “the golden middle” by ingesting tons of books and writings on the subject of leadership. What do you find to be the strongest traits of a leader?

E.G: Admitting your strengths and weaknesses and being vulnerable is one of the strongest traits of leadership. We see vulnerability as weakness yet it is not because we are admitting who we are, what we’re good at, and things we are trying to be better at. That’s what makes you a greater person and gains respect by all whether it’s your team, customers, investors, or anyone else who comes your way.


About Emna’s startup: Veamly is the workplace across the collaboration tools like: Jira, Zendesk, and Slack. It puts them in one place and helps prioritize between them while automating action items like ticket creation from a particular conversation thread.


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Measuring Real Wealth With Founder Of Curos
Interview series

Measuring Real Wealth With Founder Of Curos

In the world of overexposure we need to make sure that we take ‘selfies’ of the root causes of our diseases, not the symptoms.

When I say ‘health’, I do not mean only physical health, but also emotional and mental health. There are many dimensions to human wellbeing. I’m aware of dozens of therapies available outside of conventional medicine that treat not only physical, but also mental and emotional disorders.

According to the The Journal of the American Medical Association, millions of people die of preventable deaths such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Besides genetic predispositions, there are also environmental factors and lifestyle choices that effect people’s health.

My hope is to see more medical practices and doctors turning to integrative medicine, which combines mainstream medical therapies with scientific & evidence-based alternatives-complementary therapies. Because our health is multidimensional, we need a multi-faceted approach to treat diseases. I believe this starts with prevention.

‘Pre-mortem’ is the philosophy I comply with. My grandparents always said that it’s better to be safe than sorry. Is it that the old sayings have life hacks embedded in them? David Goldberg, the CEO and founder of Curos, knows the answer to this not-so rhetorical question.

Curos is a company that launched a nutraceutical product specifically formulated to support the healthy cellular function of the human body.

Carina Ayden: As all great companies are, your company was born out of a real life problem: Your dad was diagnosed with Grade IV Glioblastoma and you wanted to support him by diving into the research yourself, which took you to the world of holistic medicine. What did you find during that “dive”?

David Goldberg: I could probably write the anthology of “What David Didn’t Know About…Well, Everything!” I will try and distill it down, but I will also say I learn new things every day.

1. Information related to holistic health is overwhelming, confusing, and often contradictory.
2. You have NO idea whom to trust.
3. Even once you’ve figured out what you (or someone you love) should be doing, getting the actual GOOD products to make that lifestyle possible can be a full time job (and expensive).
4. Definitely don’t wait until you’re sick to decide you want to be healthy…and if you think you’re healthy now, push yourself every day to be a little better…a little healthier.

I believe these things should not be problems. It’s 2017, and we hardly even need to drive our cars anymore! (Thanks Elon!) So why are we still playing cat-and-mouse with information related to our health and longevity?

Curos sets out to make what was a nearly impossible task for me, easy for you.

C.A.: Most herbs have minimal to no side effects compared to prescription medications, but can they be as effective as traditional medicine?

D.G.: It’s true that some natural medicines have little to no side effects, but not all natural things are good for you. For instance, you wouldn’t want to eat a bunch of hemlock!

That said, when we look side-by-side at reducing inflammation through pharmaceuticals or with a natural compound like curcumin. I would take curcumin 100% of the time because there are virtually no side effects and no potential for addiction.

So yes, I believe in many cases there are natural ways to support your health that are on par with their pharmaceutical counterparts.

The obligatory side notes (my perspective):

1. Western medicine and pharmaceuticals can be absolutely remarkable. The advances are unbelievable, and they keep getting better. You wouldn’t want to face a rupturing appendix without the advancements of modern science!

It’s just too often that we resort to pharmaceuticals and surgery as a FIRST and ONLY resort. To me, this is not logical. It’s a double-edged sword, the pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, and hospital industrial complex have all made our healthcare into a profit center, and we as consumers want everything to be as simple as ‘take this one pill and call me in the morning.’ Our bodies are the most complex, beautiful organisms that we know of in the Universe, and we need to treat them as such – thoughtfully, lovingly and gratefully. We can’t just fix things overnight. This leads to #2

2. Taking a natural approach to our health is a life-long endeavor. It’s like steering a freighter ship; you can’t make an abrupt u-turn. You have to slowly turn one degree at a time, always making steady progress toward your goals. There are two challenges here:

a. No one has a crystal ball that can tell us how long we will live or what illnesses we will definitely get. So taking these natural approaches requires faith. You have to BELIEVE, and know in your heart that you’re doing the best thing for yourself, long term. We all have encountered those people who say, “oh, why do you eat so healthy and work out all the time? My aunt smoked a pack a day for 75 years and she was fine!” Well, ok, your aunt should be studied because she is an outlier. We do this because we believe. Furthermore, staying healthy is about more than “living longer”; it’s about living better. The question I hope to say “yes” to at the end of my days is, “did I live a fulfilled, happy life?”, not “Did I live a long life?”

b. When we do get sick – which, no matter how healthy we are, will probably happen at some point – natural medicine, holistic treatments, etc. are not going to work as aggressively or as quickly as pharmaceuticals or surgery. If we choose to go the totally holistic route, we need to have patience and faith…because it’s going to take time to work.

One last thought on this, because I don’t like to leave things incomplete: I believe in Integrative Medicine, which means use EVERYTHING available to us! We live in the most incredible time in history where the knowledge of the past can be supported by modern advancements. USE IT ALL. The key is to be accurately informed on all sides, and open to all ideas. All too often we think about our health the way we think about our checking account; it comes and it goes. We should be thinking about our health like an investment account; invest early and often in the right things and enjoy the dividends!

C.A.: Green Tea is an ‘old veteran’ known for its high antioxidant properties. But in just a few years, turmeric and ginger have been elevated to herbal remedy stardom due to their multitude of health benefits. Curos features some ‘newcomers’ like siliphos, berberine, and more natural forms of vitamins, probably known for centuries to the initiated ones, but to the general public they are completely unknown. Who helped you with formulation and do you have a star ingredient?

D.G.: Incredible question! Right…so many things! This is why at Curos we strive to do all of the research for you so you don’t have to. It’s A LOT!

Siliphos is an interesting ingredient; it’s a patented ingredient we source from Italy. What is it though? It’s the active ingredient in the fruit of the milk thistle plant! The active – and most potent – ingredient is called silybin. The challenge with milk thistle is that it is notoriously hard for your body to absorb. If you really wanted to get enough to support your liver’s ability to detox, you would have to take an amount that would be infeasible…(in other words, don’t just take the stuff on the shelf that says “Milk Thistle”; you’d probably be wasting your money and time.) So this particular brand is patented because the active ingredient is coated in a plant-based fat, which enables the active ingredient—silybin—to easily transfer through your cell walls like a water taxi carrying passengers. Thus, it is absorbed by your system, and actually has a chance to work!

Unfortunately, I didn’t just wake up one morning as a genius…far from it, in fact.

As I went through the process with my dad, I talked to dozes of ‘experts’ in every possible field. Ultimately, I was introduced to Dr. Josh Trutt, one of the world’s leading preventive aging doctors. He has a private practice in New York City… I could go on for days about Dr. Trutt, but he is actually the genius! Dr. Truttis my business partner at Curos, and I have the extreme privilege of calling him our Chief Medical Officer. He oversees all formulation, and ensures that anything we use is backed by significant amounts of peer-reviewed research.

Interesting tidbit: each ingredient (in its form, dose, and quality) that we use is supported by dozens of peer-reviewed studies and at least one human clinical trial to support its efficacy.

C.A.: When I started my company, EFFi Foods, I knew that I wanted to cross-pollinate high-quality food ingredients with nutraceuticals for maximum efficacy, to create healthier offerings to very stale and oversaturated snack categories which are among the top contributors to child obesity in the US.

I also researched many companies’ herbal blends so I know about the health benefits of individual herbs and some synergistic pairings but Curos is introducing a different approach by focusing on the intersection of herbs and nutraceuticals. I think harnessing benefits from two mediums is the pillar of holistic approach. So what makes Curos different and competitive?

D.G.: First, thank you for what you guys do at EFFi Foods. It’s inspiring, and your work does not go unnoticed or unappreciated!

For us, our difference starts with our approach. Science, Research, Integrity. Everything we do is translated from real science, quantitatively backed by peer-reviewed research and delivered with absolute integrity.

Curos for me is not about making money. I do this for my dad.

Dr. Trutt and I believe with all of our hearts that we can easily and affordably help people live healthier, happier, longer lives so they can do more of the things they love with the people they love.

We don’t wake up in the morning to compete with companies, we wake up in the morning to compete against aging.

C.A.: Your business model is set around ecommerce. I know that retail is a pretty brutal beast, but have you thought about working with selected retail partners?

D.G.: Ahh, you’re freaking me out!! Just kidding…kinda.

One of our company sayings is “head down, heart open.” We have SO much room for growth online, it’s where we have chosen to focus our energy. Of course, if anyone reading this is a retailer and wants to talk, email me: [email protected]

C.A.: Supplements and herbs are not regulated by the FDA, so it’s a very confusing and frustrating process finding potent and efficacious blends. Do you see the FDA starting to regulate the supplement market in the near future?

D.G.: Great question. I hope you don’t see this as side-stepping the question, but I try not to worry or speculate about anything that is out of my control.

C.A.: I’m one of those people who got thrown into the laundromat of our health system and barely survived it. I was in full “heavy duty” cycle. But I survived…I learned. The system seems to have a strange set up: is it failing us for a reason? They say there’s no money in healthy people or dead people; money is only made on the “in-betweens”.

Do you believe there’s money in healthy people?

D.G.: Wow what a question!

My spiritual self says, “I don’t believe money matters, rather, wealth matters, and wealth is measured in way more than just currency.”

That said, my pragmatic, capitalist self says “There is WAY more money in the products, foods, and services that keep people healthy. Let’s look at it this way: in the eight months my dad was going through treatment for brain cancer, his total medical bills (hospitalizations, medications, out-patient services and needs, equipment, etc.) topped over $375,000. For arguments sake, lets call it $400,000.

Now if we look at the revenue possibility by offering people scientifically proven ways to stay healthier, longer from the time they are 20 until they are 80, that’s 60 years of having a potential “client.” Over those 21,915 days that person would have to pay $18.25 per day to hit $400k.

The crazy part: this is money they are already spending. We just need to give them the incentive and reason to reallocate it.

By 2020, the wellness space will be over $880 billion per year in the United States. Supplements alone, over $40 billion. So YES, I believe there is money in healthy people…I also believe those of us who create products have a moral imperative to make our products healthful.

Here is the challenge. Only through my experience building Curos have I really learned how…shall we say, “diluted” the wellness space actually is. Unfortunately, there are those who know the space is going to be $880 billion soon and are jumping into the gold rush without any consideration for people’s actual health. There are A LOT of companies out there whose main interest is profiteering…not helping people to be healthy. Thus their products often are as bad or even worse for you than the original bad product they’re meant to replace.

So the good news: there is money in keeping people healthy. The bad news: as consumers, we need to be VERY cautious about what products we take, and we need to take the time to educate ourselves about what is—and what is not—actually going to help keep us healthy.

C.A.:  What other vehicles, besides your product, do you want to explore to drive further the awareness of prevention?

D.G.:  We have some serious stuff in the pipeline. I am not at liberty to talk about it at this moment—simply because I LOVE a good surprise. Stay tuned.

C.A.:  What is the most cherished advice you got from your dad?

D.G.:  One of the blessings and challenges with my work is that I cry pretty much every day thinking about my dad. This question made me well up.

Hopefully when I have had ample time to reflect on everything that made him so special I will write a book, because there truly was that much good stuff.

If I had to share one thing that has been resonating lately:

“Grit your teeth and go!”

The context of this was, don’t wait for someone else, for something to happen, or for a perfect set of circumstances. Don’t be foolish and think it will be easy, you wouldn’t appreciate it if it were. So whatever it is to you, “grit your teeth and go!”

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Navigating Wellness With Dr. Roizen
Interview series

Navigating Wellness With Dr. Roizen

They say the first impression is a long lasting one. I would agree with that when it comes to my first meeting with Dr. Roizen. My prelude to the introduction began in late 2012, two years before the official launch of my company’s first product line, in an attempt to create a healthy disruption within what was known as an oversaturated and famously unhealthy snack category.

I was vigorously looking for an independent 3rd party to help my team and I formulate a snack bar made from whole food ingredients and probiotics that would stand out from the crowd. The supportive team of Ganeden Biotech company, Michael Bush and Joe Bradley, were in on my idea of crafting nutritionally sound snacks and pointed me to the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.

Cleveland Clinic already had an established nutrition program and its own certification – Go!Well. I was eager to work with outstanding dietitians and nutritionists like Dr. Sukol that helped guide EFFi Foods’ R&D team back here in Los Angeles.

Go!Well has rigorous nutritional guidelines that most of the products out there would have a hard time complying with, definitely losing their self-proclaimed “healthy” title along the way.

The marketing efforts of many companies rely heavily on gimmicks. Confusing promotional messages pour heavily into the minds of consumers: the “natural” and the “wholesome”, the “real” and the “balanced”. In the chase of one-sided benefits like ‘energy’ or ‘protein’, producers pack their products with behind-the-scenes type of ingredients like sugar alcohols, artificial sweeteners, liquid fiber from starches, thickening gums and stabilizing agents. The front of the package screams “High Protein” or “Healthy” but the back of the package doesn’t lie.

The process we embarked on with the Go!Well program wasn’t easy: there were many rounds of adjusting our recipes and many back and forths that took several months. The belief that gimmicks die out eventually and real things have longevity carried EFFI Foods’ team and myself through that ‘extra mile’ we chose to walk.

In 2014, our team was invited to participate in the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Continuing Education ‘12th Annual Dr. Roizen’s Preventive and Integrative Medicine Conference’ where I heard Dr. Roizen’s presentation on human health and longevity. Being obnoxiously curious and hungry to learn more, I was so enthralled by the information the speakers provided, especially the clean-cut breakdown of supplements and its respective industry.

Dr. Roizen unbolted some “truths” and broke apart many marketing traps. I found it not only educational but also clarifying. In the age of information, I value the quality of it. It saves us from many mistakes, cuts the learning curve and even saves money.

In the noisy world of megalomaniacs whose truths are heavily biased and nepotistic, the real thing is hard to distill. Yes, honesty is still gold.


• On plant-based nutrition:

Carina Ayden: Change, known to be unsettling for many, is an important part of life. Despite the wall of resistance, it happens all around us with exponential progression. Some industries succumb to change faster than others. Finally, it’s happening in food. Recent FDA, United Nations and American Heart Association reports unanimously agree that a plant-based diet is healthier for people and our planet, still leaving some burdened with a “heavy” question about protein.
Does eating a balanced plant-based diet sustain the human body’s protein needs?

Dr. Michael Roizen: Although the words “balanced diet” are not a favorite term, a plant-based diet is balanced for protein and other key health factors. Some key plant-based foods are nuts, legumes, and grains (such as quinoa and chia seeds).


• On environmental factors:

CA: Everything from monetary currencies, words, and even some well-known truths get denominated with time. I believe the phrase ‘climate change’ needs to be rebranded because it became vapid and trite. It doesn’t penetrate consciousness with concern. Instead, the emphasis should be put on the major side effects of climate change – pollution.
Please connect the dots between human health and pollution? What are the main health risks?

Dr. MR: The main connection is that pollution is aligned to human inflammation which is a major health risk.


• On food and chronic pain:

CA: Can the food on our plates affect chronic pain?

Dr. MR: Definitely.

CA: What are the main mechanisms by which food can alleviate or worsen the pain?

Dr. MR: The best thing to “alleviate” pain are Omega 3’s which can be commonly found in walnuts and flax seeds.


• On supplements:

CA: During your 12th Annual Personalized, Preventive, and Integrative Medicine Conference (The Future of HealthCare: Focus on Women’s Health) in your discussion you put a special emphasis on the efficacy and quality of supplements. The supplement industry is oversaturated and not regulated by FDA. What is the best practice for consumers to navigate this market in search of high quality supplements?

Dr. MR: High quality supplements do support living younger and living longer. Although we have performed plant visits to better understand the manufacturing process and quality for supplements, we have not provided consumer instructions on how to differentiate vendors.


• On Go!Well program:

CA: Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute established dietary guidelines and its own certification program Go!Well. But in order to have a real effect on food consumption, according to United Nations, dietary guidelines need to have clear links to food policies that are actually implemented – from school and hospital meal standards to advertising and industry regulations.
How does the Go!Well program disseminate its healthy nutritional guidelines across those mediums and beyond?

Dr. MR: Although the Go!Well program has been around for a few years we have not focused yet on program dissemination. We are seeing our partners leverage the program for success and begin to extend this important knowledge to more and more consumers which is exciting.


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Digesting The World One Gluten-Free Bun At A Time
Interview series

Digesting The World One Gluten-Free Bun At A Time

As a woman living in a fast-paced world and working in a fast-paced startup environment, I daydream about internal peace and… a slice of tasty pie.

With every sunrise, my monolith hope calls out for clarity and balance to overtake the world; by the time the evening smog settles in, the realization hits that yet another day has diagnosed my dreams as a borderline utopia.  To re-establish the stolen sanity I reach for that ‘bready’ little something, that ‘carby’ little crumb!

In the era of self-love prophecy I, just like everyone else, got it all wrong. Through vices (that make us feel good for a hot second) I believed I “showed” love to my own self through indulging in what seemed an innocent affair: everything carbs.

But aren’t what we crave the most and are addicted to is what “kills” us, too? Dramatic? Not exactly.

When I found out I have celiac disease my whole body became the loudest riot against the diagnosis, living in denial and screaming to the bread: “Don’t worry, I’m never gonna give you up! I’m never, ever gonna stop!”

It’s now been five months since I adopted a 100% gluten-free diet.

So many dollars and doctors later, the disconnected medical community couldn’t piece together skin issues like eczema, digestive and psychological problems. Dear dermatologists, gastroenterologists and therapists – hello! It was gluten!

At Root Cause Medical Clinic in Sunnyvale, California, Dr. Vikki Petersen and her team correctly diagnosed my condition before I even did a food allergy test.

Many people still suffer from a variety of symptoms that don’t have an apparent correlated linkage, leaving them confused, over-prescribed and in despair.

An integrative medical approach not only saves money, time and helps avoid unnecessary pain and suffering, but it also gives us the most incredible tool against ignorance – knowledge. When we know the root cause of a symptom it means the road to healing is already fifty percent walked.

I still love my gluten-free bread but I don’t have a co-dependent relationship with it anymore.

Because the world sometimes is so hard to digest I make sure the food on my plate is not.

Carina Ayden: What is the difference between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity?

Dr. Vikki Petersen: Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease affecting 1% of the population, although that percentage may rise as the population of those affected ages. Some studies cite 5%.

Gluten sensitivity is a reaction to gluten by the immune system that can create a variety of symptoms including brain fog, fatigue, headaches, joint pain, digestive problems and more.

CA: What are the most common gastrointestinal side effects of gluten?

Dr. VP: Gluten can affect digestion in a number of ways. The “classic” celiac can suffer from bloating, gas, and diarrhea. But acid reflux, heartburn, constipation, IBS, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis and nausea.

CA: We were surprised to find out gluten can cause headaches, lethargy and oral ulcerations. It can also cause a variety of neurological diseases, including anxiety and ADHD, and can even suppress the immune system. What are the mechanisms by which gluten affects the immune and neurological systems?

Dr. VP: Gluten is neuro-inflammatory meaning it has the ability to inflame the nervous system. Depending on the individual affected, such inflammation could cause headaches, fatigue, seizures, anxiety, depression and more.

Gluten is a very large complex protein that, for humans, is impossible to digest. That may sound odd that something we consider to be a food is impossible to digest, but I don’t say that lightly. Proper protein digestion involves breaking a protein down into its component parts, or amino acids. The gluten protein cannot be digested by humans. The “joke” so often quoted is that it takes a cow with its 4 stomachs to properly digest the gluten protein.

Undigested pieces of the protein leave the gut and can circulate through the body creating a host of symptoms and conditions – about 300 in all. When such inflammatory segments, or peptides, get to the nervous system, the symptoms you mentioned can occur.

It’s also important to note that gluten (and dairy) are unique in their morphine-like effects upon the nervous system. Specifically gluteomorphins (and caseomorphins) create addictive responses that cause us to crave gluten and dairy products. Have you ever noticed how “comfort foods”, i.e. macaroni and cheese, apple pie, all contain gluten and or dairy? They truly are addictive neurologically.

CA: Is it true that gluten can cause a variety of skin conditions? Please name a few.

Dr. VP: The skin reflects the health of the gut and yes, eczema, unexplained rashes, “chicken skin”, psoriasis and DH (dermatitis herpetiformis – the skin condition of celiac disease) are all potentially caused by gluten.

CA: How long does it take for the human body to heal and bounce back after switching to a 100% gluten-free diet?

Dr. VP: That’s a BIG question. There are a few different scenarios. You can see someone who within a few days notices a definite and sometimes dramatic improvement in their symptoms. Others can take 6-8 weeks to notice a change. Still others go gluten-free and don’t notice much difference. The final scenario is the person who does notice a change but the benefits don’t last.

I’m not trying to depress you but it’s very common for a patient to notice an improvement upon going gluten-free but the benefit doesn’t last. The reason why is interesting.

The elimination of gluten was a good thing, which is why the body responded positively. The improvement didn’t last because other stressors need to be addressed in order for the body to truly heal and “bounce back” as you put it.

I call these the secondary effects of gluten and it’s something we never miss evaluating for because we know how critical they are to be identified and treated. Secondary effects include:

  • Infections
  • Cross-reactive foods
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Toxins, including mold and heavy metals
  • Hormonal imbalance


Tests exist to determine if such things are present, which they most always are in someone with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

CA: When a person goes to see a physician for anxiety, eczema or any neurological problem he or she will most likely be prescribed antidepressants and topical creams. When the root cause of a bouquet of symptoms lies simply in someone’s diet, why do people have to spend so much money and suffer extensively instead of being tested for gluten sensitivity right away? What is being done to make this mandatory testing in every physician’s office?

Dr. VP: When I first began my gluten adventure over 20 years ago, the rate of diagnosing celiac disease was about 5%. In other words we missed 95% of those suffering. Gluten sensitive individuals were missed completely. When I wrote The Gluten Effect in 2009 there wasn’t even an accepted term for someone who reacted to gluten but who didn’t have celiac disease. I remember deciding upon “gluten sensitivity” when writing the book. It was several years later before there was any agreement that gluten sensitivity was an actual bonafide condition.

Twenty years later we diagnose about 10% of our suffering celiacs. Five percent increase in 20 years is dismaying, to say the least.

The food industry has increased awareness of “gluten” internationally and for that I am grateful. More people know about it and wonder if it’s affecting them. The problem with mandatory testing is we don’t yet have a perfect test. There is decent testing for celiac disease but it’s not perfect. There is also strong testing for gluten sensitivity but it hasn’t been accepted yet.

Basically, if you have ruled out celiac disease yet feel much better on a gluten-free diet, you can assume you are gluten sensitive.

CA: In your clinic, you have a very extensive patient questionnaire and some questions are very uncommon compared to most medical offices I’ve been. I remember being told my answer to one of those “unusual” questions was “a tell” that I have celiac disease. I think I said that out of all food, bread, pastries and all carbohydrates were “my only vice”. Besides any ‘hard evidence’-type of symptoms that specific answer directed you to suspect that I was gluten intolerant. Is it true that what we crave the most is usually what is not good for us?

Dr. VP: Yes, I remember well that red flag going off in my head when you said that. Recall earlier we spoke of gluten’s addictive mechanism, the opiate response. So yes, someone who says they “live on” bread, pasta, and the like, will often have a negative reaction to it. I don’t often find patients “craving” something that’s truly healthy for them. They might like it, but the craving tends to come from a more negative place.

CA: Do you eat out often or do you prefer to cook at home? What is your go-to gluten-free and plant-based dish?

Dr. VP: I almost exclusively eat at home. I really enjoy high flavor profiles such as soups and chilis. My favorite lentil soup, as an example, contains onions, garlic (anti-cancer allium family), ginger, turmeric (anti-inflammatory) plus curry, carrots, zucchini, kale (anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory), tomato (high in antioxidants) and coconut milk.

I do a lot of creating on the spot but I’m always trying to include the best of the best ingredients so every meal is truly healing.


For consultation or plant-based & gluten-free recipes visit:

For more general information about celiac disease visit:

For gluten free and organic snacks visit




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The Gentle Barn

The Gentle Barn

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This Super Bowl Sunday, EFFi Foods enjoyed a beautiful and inspirational day as the sponsor of The Gentle Barn. Between handing out Probiotic CareBars to the eager visitors and feeding the stable of horses carrots from our bare hands, we saw firsthand what it means to teach ‘people kindness and compassion to animals, each other and our planet.’ In the words of Gentle Barn founder Ellie Laks, animals are “ambassadors, angels and healers.”

All of The Gentle Barn’s animal residents have been rescued from severe abuse, neglect and abandonment. Through a plethora of services including acupuncture, acupressure, surgery, physical therapy, hot/cold therapy and water therapy (not to mention lots of love) their animals return to a state of proper physical and psychological health. The result? A farm full of happy and playful animals that EFFi Foods’ founder Carina Ayden couldn’t resist!


EFFi Foods was honored to support The Gentle Barn (open to the public on Sundays). We will never forget bonding with the pigs, goats, horses, cows, donkeys and chickens. Along with gift bags for 3 lucky visitors, we made sure to donate a number of boxes of Probiotic CareBar to help raise money to support these animals. If you want to get involved, visit and see how your donations can benefit these beautiful creatures or even fund a trip to The Gentle Barn for groups of school children, special needs children, or at-risk youth.

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EFFi Foods at Animayo 2014 in Los Angeles, CA

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On October 24th, EFFi Foods was a proud sponsor of ANIMAYO: The International Film Festival of Animation, Visual Effects and Video Games. Held at the Los Angeles Film School, guests included producers, directors and animators from major studios such as Disney, Sony and DreamWorks. An hour-long premiere of “The Best of ANIMAYO Awards 2014” featured award-winning short films, video games, animation, cinematography, commercials and visual effects. Films such as the deeply thought-provoking “I Love Hooligans” (Holland) alongside other comedic pieces such as “Wedding Cake” (Germany) and “Runaway” (USA) captivated the audience through combinations of artistry, emotions and imagination. Throughout the evening, attendees of the festival enjoyed snacking on EFFi Foods’ Probiotic CareBar.

Every attendee received a Probiotic CareBar upon festival entry and the freedom to sample any of our three delicious flavors offered at two different booths during the event. Attendees also took a pledge with EFFi Foods to only use reusable bags and received rubber wristbands inscribed with their dedication.
Upon the conclusion of the premiere a raffle was held which awarded 3 lucky winners with an EFFi Foods goodie bag filled with a BPA-free water bottle and numerous Probiotic CareBars. One fortunate attendee won the grand prize of 1 month’s supply of free Probiotic CareBars! A VIP event followed with authentic Spanish dishes such as paella and plenty of time for festival-goers and industry professionals to socialize and network. Opposite the EFFi Foods’ booth, a projector displayed clips from the award-winning films as well as beautiful photography of Spain’s Gran Canaria Island.

EFFi Foods was honored to be invited by Damian Perea Productions to sponsor this event in conjunction with the Gran Canaria Film Commission and the Los Angeles Film School. We are already anxiously looking forward to ANIMAYO 2015!

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Human Rights Watch Annual Dinner 2014

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On November 11, 2014, EFFi Foods was proud to support the Human Rights Watch at their Annual “Voices for Justice Dinner.” In attendance were researchers, Defenders, and local community members along with special guest Jason Collins and the winners of this year’s Alison Des Forges Award:  Dr. Rajagopal and Shin Dong-Hyuk. The Alison Des Forges Award honors individuals dedicated to protecting the dignity and rights of others, sometimes even putting their own lives in danger.

Dr. Rajagopal’s work as a leading palliative care physician in India has greatly impacted a health care system devoid of physicians trained in pain management. Now, India’s central government recommends Indian states to adopt regulations intended to simplify access to morphine for healthcare institutions.

Shin Dong-Hyuk is the only escapee of North Korea’s Camp 14, where political prisoners and their family members are to sent to work until death. He is now the world’s leading advocate for closing North Korea’s political prisoner camps, which the government repeatedly denies their existence.

To cap off an incredible evening, attendees collaborated to pledge $105,000 to protect citizens in conflict throughout the world which spurred Sid Sheinberg, Vice-Chair of the Human Rights Watch Board of Directors, to donate an additional $50,000.

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Vitamin C

Vitamin C

As we head into the cold and flu season, vitamin C becomes more and more popular as a natural way to boost the immune system and help fight infection naturally. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient, and since it is water soluble, we do not store it readily. This means vitamin C should be taken daily.

Vitamin C and the Immune System

Vitamin C has not been linked with cold or flu prevention with any statistical significance, but it has been shown to reduce the duration of infections. This is most likely because ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is a very potent antioxidant. Antioxidants reduce metabolic stress on the body so more energy can be used by the immune system. Vitamin C has also been found in high concentrations in cells of the immune system and is used quickly during illness. Supplementing with high doses of vitamin C at the onset of an infection can replenish these stores in the immune cells, which keeps them working at 100%.

Vitamin C Supplementation

Most vitamin C supplements are chewable or dissolvable in water. For this reason, they are formulated to taste good. Unfortunately, this usually means they come loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners, and artificial flavors. Sugar can weaken the immune system and slow the absorption of vitamin C, and artificial sweeteners and flavors are metabolic toxins that should be avoided. Always check the “other ingredients” section of the label when choosing a Vitamin C supplement.

Vitamin C in Foods

Vitamin C should be ingested daily, but that doesn’t mean you need to take a supplement. Oranges are widely regarded as the go-to food for vitamin C, but guava, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kiwi all have more vitamin C than an orange. Vitamin C does withstand the temperatures of cooking, so you do not have to eat the vegetables raw. However, some nutrient content may be lost to the water if the vitamin c rich food is boiled. Broccoli has been shown to be most resistant to this leeching, so next time you start to feel a cold come on-reach for some steamed broccoli instead of an orange!

Vitamin C Side Effects

Vitamin C is water soluble, which means excess consumption of the vitamin will be eliminated and not stored. This makes the risk of toxicity close to zero, and there is actually no known toxic level of vitamin C for humans. While high doses may not be toxic, they can cause uncomfortable side effects. High doses of vitamin C usually result in indigestion and diarrhea. This is great news for those who suffer from constipation, but not great for those taking high doses of vitamin C to boost their immune system before they get on a plane…

Stay healthy with this and other tips by Lindsea Burns, NTP


In health,


Lindsea Burns, NTP

Clinical Nutritionist

[email protected]


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8 Benefits of Adding Probiotics for Your Healthy Diet

8 Benefits of Adding Probiotics for Your Healthy Diet

There are many great benefits to adding probiotics to your daily diet. By simply making a few changes you will find that you can improve on a lot of issues that you may be experiencing. There are several different foods that contain probiotics that are actually quite tasty. Yogurt, pickles and sauerkraut are just a few of the foods that offer probiotic benefits. Some of the benefits of adding probiotics to your diet are:

  1. Digestion Optimization. The use of probiotics can help with digesting dairy foods more efficiently and more comfortably. It’s a great way to aid in lactose intolerance. You may find that you can enjoy dairy items to their fullest when you add a probiotic to your health regimen.
  2. Safeguarding the body from infection. Probiotics act as a shield to ward off invasion of harmful bacteria. Illnesses such as E. coli, acne, yeast infections and even infections of the urinary tract can be fought by the use of probiotics. Imagine how much easier your life can be when you are able to help rid yourself of so many uncomfortable issues by simply adding probiotics to your meal plan. Fighting infections has never been easier since adding probiotics to help strengthen your immune system. By strengthening your immune system and your digestive system you are creating a barrier that will enable you to live a healthier life.
  3. Gastrointestinal support. Perhaps you experience constipation on a regular basis. By adding probiotics to your diet you will experience bowel movements that are not only more comfortable but more regular as well. You will find that probiotics allow your stool to be softer yet not too loose which means you won’t go from being constipated to having diarrhea. You will also not have to worry about travel bugs that may leave you with diarrhea or other gastrointestinal issues.
  4. Reduction in allergies. Those that experience allergies can also find that probiotics help reduce the effects of allergens that invade their system. During pregnancy, using a daily probiotic may protect the infant from future allergic conditions. Issues such as child eczema, inflammation and allergy-induced asthma can be eliminated.
  5. Reduction in adverse effects of antibiotic use. When you take an antibiotic to rid yourself of illness or infection, that antibiotic is actually killing off some of the important and much needed bacteria in your body. Antibiotics are unable to tell which bacteria are good and which are bad so it tends to kill both. Taking a probiotic will allow you to save the good and get rid of the bad. They will also help you to avoid diarrhea and indigestion while on the antibiotics.
  6. Women’s health. Women benefit greatly from probiotics for female support. The vaginal area requires the perfect balance of bacteria in order for it to be its healthiest. When the balance is off, yeast infections can occur as well as bacterial vaginosis. A good balance of probiotics will help to avoid these uncomfortable issues.
  7. Detoxification. Detoxifying in a natural manner can also be one of the advantages of probiotics. Probiotic foods that are rich in good bacteria can allow you to avoid purchasing the store bought kits and allow you to detoxify in a healthy manner. You can also avoid bad breath and peptic ulcers with the use of probiotics.
  8. Maximum nutrition. The use of probiotics in your diet will also help you get the most out of the foods that you eat. They allow you to absorb more of the nutrients that your foods contain. Calcium and other vitamins and minerals will be much more plentiful in your system with the use of a daily probiotic.

Let EFFi Foods be a part of your healthy diet to ensure that you are getting the best probiotic choices available. You’ll be satisfied with how great you feel after experiencing a healthy diet plan that includes probiotics.

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