Having read Ben Goldacre’s very convincing ‘Bad Science’ a few years ago I’ve tried to maintain a high level of scepticism around health supplements. It does seem on the whole to be a billion dollar, exploitative industry. Although has anyone ever heard of a non-exploitative billion dollar industry? Probably not. But enough Marxism. I’m not one for taking, never mind recommending supplements. Apart from um Evening Primrose oil and pro-biotics. And Vitamin C. Ok and maybe some extra Vitamin B stuff. Oh and a GP friend of mine said she will be giving her children Vitamin D this winter because ‘we are all Vitamin D deficient!’ Anyhow it seems reasonable to stick to the rule that you should get everything you need from a well balanced diet and sunshine (tra la la) BUT I don’t think it’s too unreasonable to expect that in a) real life b) the winter months or if c) on a restricted diet that you might nose around the health shop shelves looking for a little pick me up.
Whilst working on a show recently which required a 4 hour daily commute, working in a centrally heated porta-cabin in a aircraft hanger which was regularly flooded by a series of torrential downpours with a bunch of people who were generously passing the same cold to each other, I happened upon this in the health aisle of the supermarket and decided to give it a go.
What is it? Ok, it’s a powder made from the ground up pulp of fruit from the impressive looking Baobab tree which grows in Africa, parts of the Middle East and Australia. It’s basically a high-strength Vitamin C with the additional benefit of more potassium than bananas.
Plus it has more antioxidants than blueberries, double the calcium of milk and is high in iron, magnesium, fibre and prebiotics (which aid the good works being carried out by your pro-biotic.)
So it appealed to me because it is a food stuff, rather than a pharmaceutical supplement. Here it is in situ, heroically offsetting the greasy Nandos and Cadbury’s Dairy Milk which was that particular night’s dinner. After taking it for a couple of weeks I found that I did have a lot more energy in what was a very draining situation and I managed to stave off a nasty virus, despite being sneezed at for 10 hours a day. So on that alone I think it’s pretty good addition to one’s diet, possibly instead of a taking multi-vitamin in times when you’re run down or have a lot on. It tastes ok, bit sweet and fruity but you can add it to foodstuffs to mask it, if you’re not keen.
It’s been hailed as this year’s ‘superfood’ *eye roll* – so much so that some bright spark has even added it as a key botannical to their artisanal gin Whitley Neil Yum! But there are definitely some other cool facts which give it the edge over kale, pomegranate, acai, maca etc.
Firstly, it’s a properly ancient food. Unlike most fruit and vegetables, which have been altered as a result of human intervention over the millennia, more mature baobab trees are often over 1000 years old. So you might be eating fruit from the very same tree that was alive and feeding people at the time of the Battle of Hastings. Yay history fans!
But another excellent thing is that according to Phytotrade website here the Baobab industry is helping a sustainable and ethical trade in Southern Africa flourish and empower a largely female workforce to earn money to feed and educate their children. Which is obviously awesome.
Do you take any supplements? Is it an expensive waste of time? Or do they help you perk up your energy levels when you’re feeling depleted? Let me know what you think.