How to avoid getting SCAMMED with wellness companies
Let's face it, guys. Scams are everywhere. It's inevitable that a successful industry will have some bad fruit. Just because Enron was a really bad fruit doesn't mean that the energy industry is a bad industry to get into. In fact, it's very lucrative, especially if you have an engineering degree.
So of course in Network Marketing, there are health scams. Now, I'm not bashing the wellness industry at all. Health scams are not even exclusive to MLM. My brother recently tried a "$5 trial" of an acai weight loss pill (not MLM related) and they ended up stealing his credit card info, so he had to cancel his card and get a new one. It's never fun getting scammed, so hopefully I can prevent you from getting scammed yourself.
First, verify all claims. Keep in mind that the "grape vine" can often distort information, so the distributor telling you about the product may say something like "the product is organic!" when the product has no USDA certification anywhere. Check all claims with the company itself.
This is an important point because many companies have it in their Policies and Procedures that the company is NOT liable for any misinformation distributors may give... the distributor him/herself would be liable. However, if the distributor claims the product is organic, it's basically free false advertising that gets them the crowd who only wants organic products, at the expense of the distributor. The company gets the sale, the distributor gets the commission, but the distributor also has to handle any lawsuits that arise due to that sale.
Distributors, don't risk it. Check and double check any "approved claims" with the website, and if at all possible, don't answer ANY questions; instead, lead them to a person in your upline who is knowledgeable about the product. A plus to this is that this keeps the prospecting process duplicatable, if prospecting is what you're doing. However, keep in mind that your upline would be liable in that case, so it would be best to settle any "claims" questions with the company itself. Hopefully the company keeps an FAQ to make the process just a few short clicks away.
Remember, it's okay to say "I don't know."
Sometimes though, even the "science advisory" board of the company won't know the answer... which is why it's time to break out experts.
You want to know what you're putting in your body. Certified organic is better, but not organic doesn't mean it's a bad product. Look into that. An organic product will have a justifiably higher cost than an inorganic product.
Also, look into the ingredients. Most of the time, these health drinks contain acai. It's the new craze, and rightfully so. Freeze-dried acai contains 107,200 ORAC units per 100 grams. Or maybe it has aloe vera. Or mangosteen. Whatever the ingredients are, look into them. You may be allergic to a certain fruit that you didn't know was in it because the company only focuses on the acai in the product.
Look into the preservatives. Sodium benzoate is an old method for preserving juice. It will keep the juice fresh for years at a time. Unless you plan on keeping a garageful of juice, sodium benzoate is an unnecessary preservative at a time where the industry standard is flash pasteurization. Also, be very aware of sodium benzoate in your juice, because often times your juice will also contain vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid react to make benzene... a known carcinogen. Carcinogens cause cancer. If you're drinking the juice to prolong your longevity with your extra ORAC, but you're introducing a carcinogen in your body at the same time, there's a conflict of interests. Don't risk your health for the "next big thing."
Is the juice fortified? Fortified juices are fine, just keep in mind that you can get the same fortification from your everyday multivitamin (which usually costs less than a dollar per day, if not extremely less). If the primary role of the juice is to provide you with vitamins and minerals, but costs more than ten times than your multivitamin would, you're being overcharged.
Does your juice contain herbs? Look into the herbs. "All-natural" does NOT mean "better for you." Snake venom is all-natural. So is marijuana. As well as psychedelic mushrooms. We can all agree that those three things are NOT good for you. Do research into the herbs. One herb I will caution against drinking is yerba mate. Studies show that yerba mate is a possible carcinogen (also see here). Those are very technical articles, but they do not explicitly conclude that yerba mate causes cancer. Here is a study showing that there is no relevance. It's a possibility... but is the possibility of ingesting a cancer-causing substance worth the other benefits of the juice? That's up to you to decide. I quite like my bladder cancer-free though.
Now here's the controversial subject. ORAC values. I've seen too many times, products bragging about their content of freeze-dried acai, which has TONS of ORAC per gram. 5 grams of freeze-dried acai will give you your daily dosage of ORAC, because the body only needs 5,000 ORAC units per day. I can't find any credible source that states this, most of them are "buy this product" ads. However, it would behoove them to use a higher number than 5,000 so that they could sell more of their product. So let's assume a maximum of 5000 ORAC units per day is recommended amount. Do you know how much ORAC units a 100 gram red delicious apple with the skin has (that is a small apple)? 4275. A regular-sized apple is usually around 150 grams, meaning you get your daily ORAC requirement with a single apple.
An apple a day indeed keeps the doctor away.
Cost of a single apple is probably around $0.50. Maybe more expensive if you opt for organic. A dollar at max. I've never seen one of these superjuices touting high ORAC values any cheaper than a dollar per day or dollar per serving. Not only that, but juices don't often contain fiber. An apple does.
Let's also look at phenolics, which are basically total antioxidants. Look on page 7: an apple has 520 grams of phenolics. Chances are, you've never heard of the term phenolics. Antioxidants aren't only measured in ORAC units.
So if you're looking into a juice MLM, or any sort of health product, MLM or not, look into what exactly the product is.
Does it tout ORAC scores? Well, just get an apple. It's unprocessed and cheaper, and also has fiber.
Does it tout the ability to cure cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, etc? RUN. As much as we want a cure for cancer, there has been no published study that fruit juice can do it.
Does it use ACAI as it's "crown jewel?" This is a HUGE red flag. Acai is NOT bad by any means. However, it is the current CRAZE in wellness right now so of course scam companies will capitalize on it, at the expense of YOUR wallet. Be VERY cautious about acai berry companies. Most of them tout it's high antioxidant capacity. Just eat an apple or two; unless you're an olympic athlete, you'll never need any more than 10,000 ORAC units per day.
Does it tout weight loss? Eating a healthier diet is a much better way to lose weight than taking pills or drinking juice.
Do distributors claim it replaces a certain part of your diet? All wellness products are supplements and NOT replacements, unless they are specifically marketed as "meal replacement" and contain all the nutrients a well-balanced meal should have. I've heard "4 ounces of this juice is equivalent to 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables!" That is simply ERRONEOUS and I put that in caps because it pisses me off when people LIE blatantly like that. Four ounces of 100% fruit juice is equivalent to ONE SERVING of fruit. However, keep in mind that you are missing out on dietary fiber when you drink juice to get your servings of fruit.
And one more thing. For juices: do distributors drink it, or take it? Be wary of vocabulary. You "take" medicine. You "drink" juice.
On my next part of this article, I will cover the ever controversial... medical testimonials.
Questions? Comments? Catch up with me on Facebook or Twitter, or check out my blog! Feel free to post criticism on this article, but know that any critical comment that does not cite any sources or use coherent logic WILL BE IGNORED. I do not have the time to pointlessly debate people who think I am anti-"insert company here." My purpose here is consumer advocacy, so if you think I'm competing against your company, know that I am not involved in any wellness MLM.
To your success,