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By Kara Lawton

“Hard-core.” What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe it’s a flashback to 90’s rave music, visually explicit films or a gentle reminder of your inner-gaming nerd. For HealthForce Nutritionals and certified nutritionist Doug Walsh, hard core means superfoods—specifically 100% vegan, 100% raw, 100% gluten-free superfoods designed to dramatically improve your health.

Founded in 1990, HealthForce offers a full line of whole food-based nutrition products that are formulated and manufactured according to the company’s industry-leading standards. Co-founders Jameth and Kim Sheridan are passionate about health and extremely committed to the people who use their products. Unwilling to take on investors and compromise their ethics, the husband and wife team made big sacrifices (including living in their car) when money was scarce in the early years. Fast-forward to today, when the Sheridans’ tenacity still drives the company’s mission to provide the highest-quality products at the lowest-possible prices.

According to Jameth Sheridan, a doctor of holistic medicine, naturopath and hard-core natural medicine researcher, he “would rather die than compromise these values.” Read his Passion Statement here. It’s a hard-core claim that dictates hard-core standards, hard-core products and hard-core employees, which is where Doug Walsh comes in.

HealthForce sponsored Walsh’s 3,000-mile cross-country walk in 2005. Four years later, Doug joined the company as its Pacific Northwest sales rep and national educator, a perfect fit for his beliefs and lifestyle. Now a certified nutritionist, he eagerly shares what he knows about health and nutrition by conducting trainings and classes, and writing product white papers to educate employees, stores and the public. He also has a personal project, www.wildsoulwellness.com, set to launch later this year.

HoneyColony recently caught up with Doug via a phone interview:

HoneyColony: How was HealthForce started?

Doug Walsh: Dr. Sheridan is a naturopath as is his wife Kim. In the 1980s they were having problems finding products that they actually liked to give their clients, so they decided to start making their own. It was a huge hit. Within a couple of months Dr. Sheridan was totally overwhelmed with orders. His clients were all coming back for more and they were telling their friends. At that point he realized that he had to start a company. The official start for HealthForce was in 1990 and Vitamineral Green was the first product.

HC: Can you talk about the micronutrients in Vitamineral Green?

DW: People are starving for micronutrients because our soil is so depleted in this country, and really around the world. The intention of Vitamineral Green was to create a product that has the highest levels of minerals and vitamins possible, that’s still 100% food. The concept is that these micronutrients are delivered to your body in a form it can actually absorb: food, as opposed to some synthetic, isolated nutrient created in a laboratory.

HC: Besides micronutrients, what would you say are the top reasons why the average person who might eat a standard American diet should supplement with HealthForce products?

DW: Basically HealthForce products address health on a foundational level. Our mission is to seek out the most nutrient-rich foods on the planet and process them in a way that doesn’t destroy the nutrients, and then package them in a way that the nutrients cannot degrade until the bottle is opened. Everything’s dried at low temperatures. Amber glass, metal lid, rubber seal, oxygen absorber in the bottle—all these things really protect the product’s integrity.

HealthForce also has cleansing products. The average American is exposed to something like two million toxic chemicals on a daily basis. Our liver’s job is to clean our blood. It doesn’t have the physiology to actually process and remove these toxins, so it ends up storing them away in fat tissue. A lot of the products out there are loaded with fillers, but HealthForce products don’t have any binders, fillers—there’s nothing but functional ingredients.

HC: What are some supportive products that HealthForce makes?

DW: Liver Rescue. Antioxidant Extreme. Our probiotic is Friendly Force.

HC: Detoxing is something you hear a lot about now. What product would you recommend specifically for that and how would you use it?

The first one is ZeoForce. ZeoForce is a clay product that is an incredible chelator. It’s able to bind up toxins and carry those toxins out of the body. We’re talking pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, radioactive isotopes. The product is available in either powder or capsule, and it’s best to take it on an empty stomach, away from food. Make sure you stay hydrated while you’re consuming it.

Other products that are important are Intestinal Drawing Formula and Intestinal Movement Formula. When you detoxify your body, the first place you want to focus on is the intestinal tract, the body’s main channel of elimination. The liver’s job is to pull all the toxins out of your blood and dump them in the intestinal tract. If your intestinal tract is not moving, as in having good bowel movements every day, then those toxins have nowhere to go and they’re just getting reabsorbed back into your blood stream.

Intestinal Movement Formula is a great way to stimulate bowel function. You take however many capsules you need with breakfast and with dinner so that you have two to three significant bowel movements every day. The Intestinal Drawing Formula has about three or four bulking fibers. It’s kind of like an intestinal broom, which is so important because most people have 10 to 15 pounds of un-eliminated material just hanging around in their intestinal tract. It’s great food for parasites and candida and all sorts of unfriendly microbes that basically create this little toxic factory in our gut. Intestinal Movement Formula and Intestinal Drawing Formula often are used together because the Intestinal Drawing Formula can be a little constipating.

HealthForce has actual healing cleanses: HealthForce Healing Cleanse Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. These are cleansing kits that have varying levels of intensity in terms of the depth with which they cleanse your tissues. Level 1 being the most gentle and more of an introductory level, and level 3 being a very intensive whole-body detoxification program

HC: Can you tell me a little about the walk you did in 2005?

DW: The intention was to demonstrate that the raw food diet was not for wimps. I decided to walk across the country, a 3,000-mile walk from Mexico to Canada, but I did it on the Continental Divide [Trail]. I was also raising money for the Living Light [Culinary] Institute, where I got certified as a raw food chef. The average elevation of that trail through Colorado was over 11,000 feet. I was at a high elevation for a long period of time on a wilderness trail with my backpack loaded up with raw foods. A lot of times there was no trail. HealthForce sponsored me. I got a call from Dr. Sheridan and he said, “This is a great thing you’re doing.” He was a big fan of the Living Light. “I’m going to sponsor you with Vitamineral Green and my spirulina product, and I’m going to give you as much as you can possibly consume.” I was so excited because that was the missing piece in my nutritional protocol for the walk: those superfood products to keep me nourished. Most people don’t realize you need massive amounts of minerals and vitamins to sustain walking 20 miles a day for five months, which is what I did.

I consumed massive amounts of Vitamineral Green and spirulina. It was amazing to watch the difference between myself and the people I walked with unfold. When we first started we could all walk the same amount every day and get up and do it again. But by the end I was walking circles around these people. They were all taking these standard multivitamin products. They couldn’t go more than an hour without stopping and pigging out on something in their pack. They’d get into town and eat an entire stick of butter. I watched guys eat a half gallon of ice cream because they were starving for calories.

Myself, it was such a different experience. I was eating three meals a day not needing to snack between meals. Typically I’d get ahead of people and ended up walking a lot by myself, and then they’d catch up with me when I went into town to re-supply. It’s one thing to know you’re doing something good for yourself, but it’s another thing to see the results of your nutritional program play out over a five-month period against people who were doing something different.

HC: What’s your favorite HealthForce product?

DW: My favorite HealthForce product—and it might just be because it’s new—is this protein called Green Sage Protein. It’s basically a protein powder, a probiotic supplement and a food-based multivitamin all in one. It has 16 grams of protein per serving. But the beauty of this protein powder is that the protein comes from whole green food. All other protein powders on the market are fractionated protein where the protein is pulled out of rice to get rice protein, pulled out of whey to get whey protein. So they’re not whole foods. In this product the protein comes from spirulina and chlorella, two incredibly micronutrient-rich superfoods that are also rich in protein. There’s also barley grass, oat grass, dandelion and alfalfa, plus 10 billion probiotics per serving. I use it right around the time I work out and I just love it.

HC: What are the company’s best sellers?

DW: By far, Vitamineral Green. That’s our core best-selling product. Probably second place would be Truly Natural Vitamin C. Third place would be our protein powder called Warrior Food. Those are the top three.

HC: You’ve talked about a lot of things that set the company apart. Can you talk about the TruGanic Standard?

DW: All of our products are TruGanically certified. TruGanic means truly organic. It is about assuring purity in our food supply. Dr. Sheridan was part of the original grassroots movement in the 70s that established the organic standard. When the USDA took over managing the organic industry in 1990, he started to witness the purity standards slip. So Dr. Sheridan feels at this point the organic standard is not enough, and that has been verified with the TruGanic testing we do. Over the years we’ve found many, many certified organic ingredients that are testing positive for pesticide contamination or GMO contamination or irradiation. What we do is test everything. Every single ingredient in our TruGanic products is tested for about 150 different pesticides, for radiation and GMO and gluten contamination. Every ingredient has to test with zero detectable levels of all that stuff to make it into the bottle. This is a purity standard that is way beyond the organic standard. The organic standard doesn’t require any testing at all.

HC: Is there anything new and exciting in store for HealthForce that you can share?

DW: There is. We just moved our company into Arizona, and we just purchased a much larger production facility. So we are ramping up to really dramatically expand our business. Also, Dr. Sheridan’s time is going to be freed up now that the new production facility is online, so we’re all excited that he’s soon to go into the laboratory. I suspect we’re going to get a pretty rapid succession of new HealthForce products and refinements of some of the products we currently have, to make them better.

Photo by Joanne Z/ Flickr.

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