Out of all the review requests I’ve received recently, Thrive has been at the top of the list. I get more requests to review this company than any other, and I can see why. They’re exploding. The company started in 2012 and has made a billion dollars in the past five years. That’s pretty impressive. But I have to be honest, something about this company rings really dishonest to me. First, it was the customer service experience.
You have to comment on their Facebook page, be contacted by a rep, and only then can you be invited to create an account – and only after that can you reach out to customer service to ask any questions. I would have just looked at the information provided by the company on the ingredients they use, their practices, the benefits of their products – but there is next to none. Which is incredibly bizarre.
I first asked if the products were certified GMO-free. I was told not that they were certified but that they were “GMO-free.” This is a huge difference. I’m not saying the products contain GMOs, but I am saying I do have legitimate doubts about this claim without a certification because ingredients contained within these products are some of the highest genetically modified foods, upward of 90% of soy and corn are GMO and both are contained in these products.
The customer service rep went on to tell me,
We source all our ingredients from fruit and vegetable farms from around the country. Some of these are farms certified organic and some are not. (emphasis mine)
Wait, hold on a minute. You source all ingredients from fruit and vegetable farms? That is a flat out lie. First, not every ingredient, in fact I’d say majority of the ingredients in these products – are not from fruit and vegetable farms. I mean, last I checked, synthetic vitamins, MSG and artificial sweeteners don’t grow on trees.
I probed further, asking the following:
- Are you certified GMO-free?
- What about the ingredients you don’t obtain from farms because they simply don’t come from farms, like caramel color, maltodextrin, sucralose, natural flavors, etc? These are not made in farms. They’re made in labs.
- Is the hydrolyzed collagen from grass-fed, organic animals?
What I received didn’t seem accurate at all. I was again told that the products are GMO-free but no mention of a certification. And without a certification – I don’t blindly trust that anything is GMO-free, whether it’s Thrive products or a bag of chips. I was told that the whey is non-GMO and therefore organic and grass-fed. Clearly, this person had no idea what they were talking about. Just because whey is non-GMO does not mean that it’s grass-fed and/or organic. In fact, majority of non-GMO whey in the US comes from cows in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) being fed non-GMO soy and corn. Just because something is non-GMO (which I question the validity of in the first place) does not mean it’s grass-fed. There’s a HUGE difference. Again, it’s possible that it’s grass-fed, but this person didn’t seem to have any actual idea what grass-fed means. I was also told that nothing synthetic is used in these products. Word for word, that is what I was told.
So in the same breath you’re telling me that the products are non-GMO, that the whey is grass-fed and organic just because it’s non-GMO, that you can’t disclose where the corn is sourced from and that not a single ingredient is synthetic? That’s simply false and it makes it extremely difficult to believe anything I was told.
Splenda is synthetic. Folic acid is synthetic. Caramel color is synthetic. Natural flavors are synthetic. Potassium sorbate is synthetic. Modified starch is synthetic. The list goes on and on. These products weren’t made in nature. They’re man-made in a lab. Last time I checked, nature doesn’t make patches that help you lose weight or foam that delivers vitamins.
Let me be very clear. If you’re consuming these products, you’re consuming carcinogens, preservatives, additives, artificial sweeteners and MSG (among other things). For a brief overview without getting into the studies, scientific literature and my getting pissed off about people applying patches to their arms thinking it’s a healthy and effective way to lose weight:
- these products are not certified GMO-free – if you’ve grossed a billion dollars in five years, you can afford the certification
- these products contain probable carcinogens, aka ingredients that have been shown to cause cancer
- these ingredients contain processed food-like products (potassium sorbate, caramel colors, maltodextrin, natural flavors, etc)
- these products contain artificial sweeteners (sucralose aka Splenda!)
- these products contain MSG (modified starch, natural flavors, modified food starch and potentially corn starch)
- these products contain synthetic vitamins that have been linked to cancer (folic acid)
I will share a few of the ingredient labels and then delve into the specifically harmful ingredients contained within these products. Let’s go.
Wtf is gluten-free wheat?
A quick note about these multivitamins before we delve into the horrible ingredients in these products: the vitamin and mineral makeup of these multis isn’t even good. There are SO many better multivitamins on the market that contain more vitamins and minerals and are made of organic food! Compare the above multivitamins to the one I take, which is an organic, food based multi. It has a ton more vitamins, minerals, enzymes and herbs!
Also – the Thrive vitamins are $60 for a month long supply – that’s insane. They’re incredibly overpriced – especially considering how few vitamins and minerals you get – and not to mention the one I use is made up of organic food which provides vitamins and minerals that are actually bioavailable and easy to digest! The multivitamin I personally use, seen below, is $32.89 for a three month supply! You can see it here.
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, which has proven to be particularly problematic. Folate is a naturally occurring water soluble B vitamin. Folic acid, however, is a synthesized form of folate that the body is unable to properly absorb or utilize.
In fact, folic acid supplementation has even been linked to cancer.
…in the Journal of the American Medical Association — suggesting that all the extra folic acid might increase your odds of developing cancer. “The more we learn about folic acid, the more it’s clear that giving it to everyone has very real risks,” says folic acid researcher David Smith, PhD, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Oxford in England.
Another study out of Chile linked folic acid supplementation with an increased risk of colon cancer.
And yet another study out of Norway linked folic acid supplementation with a 21% increase in lung caner.
Folic acid and B12 supplementation was associated with a 21% increased risk for cancer, a 38% increased risk for dying from the disease, and an 18% increase in deaths from all causes.
While folate is a necessary part of a balanced diet, folic acid has actually been linked to increased rates of cancer (another source for ya).
It’s been estimated that 40% of the population has an MTHFR gene mutation which makes people completely inept at absorbing folic acid! Dr. Will Cole has a great article on MTHFR you can check out here.
These products contain the artificial sweetener, sucralose, also known as Splenda. From the mouth of the beast,
Sucralose is made through a patented, multi-step process that starts with sugar and selectively replaces three hydrogen-oxygen groups on the sugar molecule with three chlorine atoms. The result is an exceptionally stable sweetener that tastes like sugar, but without sugar’s calories.
That’s right, it’s chlorinated. Sucralose destroys beneficial gut flora, thus impairing immune function and promoting obesity.
No. Sucralose is not a natural product – it is not found in nature. Although sucralose is made from sugar, the sugar molecule is chemically modified to make sucralose which is classified as an artificial sweetener.
This study from Harvard found that men consuming the equivalent of one cup of soy milk per day had 50% lower sperm count than men who did not consume soy (even accounting for other factors like age, caffeine and alcohol intake, etc.).
From the study,
There was an inverse association between soy food intake and sperm concentration that remained significant after accounting for age, abstinence time, body mass index, caffeine and alcohol intake and smoking. In the multivariate-adjusted analyses, men in the highest category of soy food intake had 41 million sperm/ml less than men who did not consume soy foods.
Several studies have also linked soy to cancer.
…this pilot study indicates that prolonged consumption of soy protein isolate has a stimulatory effect on the premenopausal female breast, characterized by increased secretion of breast fluid, the appearance of hyperplastic epithelial cells, and elevated levels of plasma estradiol. Source
as well as,
We have demonstrated that the isoflavone, genistein, stimulates growth of estrogen-dependent human breast cancer (MCF-7) cells in vivo…Here we present new information that soy protein isolates containing increasing concentrations of genistein stimulate the growth of estrogen-dependent breast cancer cells in vivo in a dose-dependent manner. Source
I reached out to Thrive (or Level? what do I call them? the branding is NOT clear at all) about their maltodextrin and was told it’s made from rice, which is better than corn but is still an overly processed additive that should be avoided by those with high blood sugar, insulin resistance, obesity and/or diabetes. There is evidence that maltodextrin can alter gut flora and suppress beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Corn Starch and Modified Starch aka Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Corn starch and modified starch are two names that MSG masquerades under. There is no legal reason to disclose this information as the FDA does not require companies to do so.
Glutamic acid is found in foods like tomatoes, beef, walnuts, peas, etc. Monosodium glutamate, however, is manufactured glutamic acid that takes on an entirely different chemical composition and reacts differently in the body. Studies have linked MSG to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) as well as type 2 diabetes, inflammation and obesity. From this study,
We previously reported that injection of monosodium glutamate (MSG) in ICR mice leads to the development of significant inflammation, central obesity, and type 2 diabetes. To directly address the long-term consequences of MSG on inflammation, we have performed serial analysis of MSG-injected mice and focused in particular on liver pathology. By 6 and 12 months of age, all MSG-treated mice developed NAFLD and NASH-like histology, respectively. In particular, the murine steatohepatitis at 12 months was virtually undistinguishable from human NASH.
Meanwhile, this study linked MSG to cognitive decline, learning disability and impaired memory function. This study linked MSG to headaches. This study linked MSG to pancreatic disfunction and diabetes.
Caramel color, not to be confused with actual caramel (made of cream and sugar), is made using ammonia and sulfites under high pressure.
Caramel color is most notably added to soft drinks, like Coke or Pepsi. Johns Hopkins did a study on the caramel color found in these drinks and determined that it is indeed a carcinogen.
“Soft drink consumers are being exposed to an avoidable and unnecessary cancer risk from an ingredient that is being added to these beverages simply for aesthetic purposes,” says Keeve Nachman, PhD, senior author of the study and director of the Food Production and Public Health Program at the CLF and an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health “This unnecessary exposure poses a threat to public health and raises questions about the continued use of caramel coloring in soda.” Source
PS is a common chemical made in a lab that serves as a preservative, to extend the shelf-life of food. Because why shouldn’t food sit out for months, even years at a time without going bad?
However, two studies have shown that potassium sorbate has the potential to mess with our DNA. In one study, PS is clearly seen to be genotoxic to the human peripheral blood lymphocytes (white blood cells). In another study, potassium sorbate mixed with ascorbic acid (vitamin C, which is present in many foods), caused mutagenicity and DNA-damaging activity. the risk demonstrated in the studies is very low, but it is statistically significant.
IN CONCLUSION, THRIVE GETS AN F
This company has made a billion dollars in five years by selling carcinogens, additives, preservatives, synthetic vitamins and overall unhealthy, overly processed, trendy products to unsuspecting people who don’t know what they’re actually consuming. To people who want to get healthy. To people who want to make an income and put their kids through college.
This is not okay with me. This is why I do these reviews. People need to know what they’re selling and what they’re buying – because I’m willing to bet majority of the people who sell and consume these products are good people who are completely unaware that folic acid and caramel color have been directly linked to cancer. I’m willing to bet these people don’t know that they’re consuming preservatives linked to altered and damaged DNA. I’m willing to bet they don’t know they’re consuming artificial sweeteners that damage gut health. You deserve to know the truth.
Health does not come in a patch. It doesn’t come in a meal replacement shake. We have overcomplicated the key to health which is real, organic, unprocessed food, good sleep, low stress, exercise and a fun lifestyle. Think about it. You’re applying a patch to your arm to lose weight. That’s nuts. (Side note: I asked how these work and was told directly from the company “Support is not able to explain the science behind DFT Duo.”). I mean, we’ve come so far away from the simple truth: real food is the key to health. Not shakes, not patches, not gel foam derma technology.