The exotic adventures in eating well and living the SuperLife
Darin Olien has traveled to exotic locales all over the globe searching for the best food sources to nourish our bodies. He has compiled his years of research in his new book SuperLife: The 5 Forces That Will Make You Healthy, Fit, and Eternally Awesome. Darin provides a comprehensive look into how and what to eat in order to keep our bodies happy and healthy.
Darin is a renowned authority on nutrition, hydration and the potency of foods and herbs, and he works closely with thousands of international farmers, growers, and manufacturers to get high-quality, fair-trade superfood and herbal commodities out onto the market. Darin is also a dedicated philanthropist. He sits on the board of Raincatcher.org, a non-profit dedicated to getting clean drinking water to people around the world. In addition to his research, he worked with fitness-company Beachbody to create the hugely successful nutritional supplement Shakeology. Darin holds a Bachelor of Arts in Exercise Physiology/Nutrition and a Master of Arts in Psychology. Wherever his adventures take him, Darin is sure to uncover a never-ending supply of nature’s bountiful treasures that could be our future keys to optimal health.
Your book and website are both called SuperLife. What exactly does it look like to live a SuperLife?
I wanted to create a space where people could receive the information I’ve gathered from around the world with my unique perspective and apply what they need and want to live their personal SuperLife! Living a SuperLife really starts with each person taking what I share about health, food, superfoods, and lifestyle and applying it individually to the degree that helps them live their SuperLife — the greatest expression of a person’s life possible.
SuperLife is not a quick-fix fad diet; it is a complete lifestyle. What got you started on your journey to a healthy lifestyle?
That journey started from the moment I was born two months early as a 3.5 pound preemie with multiple medical problems — fighting to survive. Through my early years in school, I dealt with many medical issues, patches on my eyes, allergies, learning disabilities, and on and on. You name it; the first messages I felt in this world were that I wasn’t strong enough and health wasn’t a given.
At 13 I started experimenting with food, such as eating all grapefruits for a one or two days. Those changes in my diet away from processed food helped my brain and my body and I realized — on some beginning level — the power of food. At 16 I started weight lifting to make my body stronger and gained 50 pounds of muscle in two years. I also fell in love with football and saw it as my career path, but in college I experienced a career-ending back injury. It changed everything. I channeled that pain into a degree in exercise physiology and nutrition. In 2005 I lost my father. I used that pain to uncover a love for learning, formulating, and discovering everything there was to know about herbs and superfoods. Over time, I learned the strength from turning the challenges I was continuously presented with into positive actions centered around healthy choices.
You have spent years as a health crusader searching for the best foods for nourishing our bodies. Why did you decide that now was the time to write your book?
I was in an interesting space because the formulation work was slowing down with Beachbody, the company that hired me to create many nutrition formulas for them. And I had just met Eliza Coupe, now my wife, and was in the process of falling madly in love with her. At the time, I really wanted to get to know her, but believe me, traveling to remote, wild places doing research is not very conducive to bringing a date, as it can get gnarly and sometimes dangerous. That all came together to create the perfect pause from all my global superfood hunting and traveling to write a book!
There are so many books about dieting and nutrition available today. What makes SuperLife different from other health books?
Yes, there are a ton of dieting and nutrition books available, but I wanted to cut through all the reductionsim that simplifies health to a single message such as do this, take that, and eat this and your problems will be solved. That is crazy, right?! Surely people don’t believe they can do just one thing and they will have everything? But they do. I wanted to cut through all the noise and explain in a way my mother in a small town in Minnesota would understand. The life forces in SuperLife govern the systems of the body and they actually are easy, intuitive, and so very powerful when understood. We are killing ourselves through a horrible, oversimplified model and culture of health. So I wanted to speak to the KNOWing everyone has within them (we all really do know the healthy choices we need to make deep down inside) and lay it out in a no-nonsense, CLEAR way. We have the power to make daily, repeated healthy choices that result in excellent health, energy, weight loss, and disease-fighting superiority.
What are some of your favorite health boosting foods/recipes?
Well, my favorite health-boosting food is my 50+superfood formula I formulated called Shakeology. I have the vegan formulas every day. From there my favorites include fruit, daily carbs (they aren’t evil!), moringa, mushrooms (chaga, cordyceps, and reishi are some of my favorites) and adaptogens such as rhodiola, maca, ashwaganda, tongkat Ali, and ramon nut. I make elixers every day to strengthen my body with stress-curbing foods and immune-boosting, powerful plants. I have tons of my favorite recipes on my website; SuperLife.com and will be launching a nutrition program in September. Go to superlife.com for the details!
You are often called the “Indiana Jones of Superfoods.” What was the most memorable trip you took in the search for a superfood?
Man, they are all so memorable. Seriously, every trip! My first one to South America in 2004 to Peru will always stand out. I hit many regions — the Andes, the Amazon, and many places in between and I literally met friends, suppliers, and farmers that I still have relationships with and use to this day. They are my friends. That trip solidified that I wanted to be a superfood hunter for the rest of my life.
In order to know these plants and the people you need to show up in the places where they are from — and I’ll always be ready to do that. Ensuring fair trade and absolute quality with no shortcuts is very important to me — especially since the industry is very unregulated. There is no one really checking to see if these plants, herbs, and superfoods are grown correctly, safe, clean, and do not have unwanted contaminates. The FDA only comes down on companies when there is a problem and most companies don’t show up and do the right thing for the land, the people, and the product. This is a big reason I travel.
Your positive attitude and passion really comes across in your book, and I get the impression that living a SuperLife is a lot of fun. How important is happiness and positivity to overall health?
This is probably the most important of all of the life forces I describe! I call attitude the “sixth life force” when I talk to people. Your outlook on life largely determines “the movie” of your life. Life is hard enough. We all don’t escape the painful things that happen— I learned that young — however knowing those are steps and NOT setbacks creates the foundation for success and health.