Supplements and Multi-Level Marketing – MLM

Supplements and Multi-Level Marketing – MLM

Sunday, 29 April 2012 14:55

February 25, 2014 Jennifer Z wrote:

Hi Mark,

I saw you speak at the Nurses Health and Wellbeing conference last year, have read your book and have made many lifestyle changes which in turn have had a huge positive effect on my life…..so thank-you!!!

Just wanting to have your opinion about something.

I have always had a keen interest in health and well-being and a strong belief in eating whole REAL food and have absolutely loved reading your book. I’ve ditched the diet coke, shop more on the supermarket periphery now, adding more herbs and spices, eat light at night, exercise regularly and feel fantastic.

Anyway, what I was wanting to know was your thoughts on supplements? I know I’ve read in your book that if our bodies are receiving all vitamins from REAL food we wouldn’t require supps, which I agree with wholeheartedly.

My sister has recently become involved in a program called ‘X’ (actual name removed but basically a multi-level marketing nutritional company – Mark), and I am worried that she is being ‘ripped off’ and ‘brainwashed’ as some of the information I’ve seen from them seems inaccurate. They claim their products are all ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ but the way I see it, they are processed, packaged supplements imported from America and come with a pretty high price tag.

Admittedly, my brother-in-law has lost 20kg on this program, which includes cleanses, shakes and other products and had not exercised much. But, he has also changed his diet. My question is, if he continued on his changed diet and lifestyle changes and removed these supplements, would he get the same result? At the end of the day it’s a MLM program.

Sorry for my rant but I feel very strongly about companies giving out misguided information to make money. Am I being too critical or is there a place for these companies in our lives?

Hope you are well.


Hi Jennifer

Thanks for your comments re; my book and lovely to hear from you again. Funny you should write at this time, I’ve just recently come back from speaking to 1400 people at a Neways International Conference in Adelaide.

Neways are also a multilevel marketing (MLM) company that promote health and well-being type products. I must admit I was very impressed with the company generally and many of their products. What I most liked however, was they didn’t do all the ‘Ra ra’ stuff and no-one tried to ‘sell’ me. I don’t have a problem with MLM’s per se – it just depends on whether it’s a good product or not, and whether there’s coercion or misinformation to ‘sell’ you.

Re; supplements specifically, I think the key thing to distinguish first up is what we mean by ‘supplements’. When I say that I’m not a fan of supplements, what I’m generally referring to are synthetic, laboratory-made. ‘isolated’ supplements that you would buy from a chemist. Iron or vitamin C tablets for example. If there is a fruit/nut bar or a drink made with good quality ingredients and without any sugars, artificial sweeteners, additives and the like, then I think there’s no great problem in someone’s diet as just that – a supplement.

The ideal is not to rely on them necessarily and with the right knowledge and information know how the same nutrition can largely be received by eating the right natural foods. Of course, while that is possible, we’ve also got to take in to account what is practical for the general population, and for most people at the present time, they’re simply not going to have the time, energy or motivation to get the sufficient whole foods. So for them, there is probably more an argument that some good quality products may be beneficial.

When looking at the results people get (e.g. losing 20kg as your B.I.L did), you really have to also condider where they started from. Many people come from excessively overeating highly-processed, packaged foods or having a predominantly junk food diet, so almost any diet or supplement program will bring good results in the short term. Importantly, weight loss is one of the common things people base the success of supplements or programs on. From Ayurveda and the natural health sciences however, weight loss is not the only factor in whether something is healthy. People can lose weight by predominantly consuming diet shakes for example, but such a diet will not keep their teeth and gums healthy (we are designed to chew!), and won’t necessarily provide proper nourishment to their bones, nervous system, or emotions (according to Ayurvedic medicine food is meant to deliver emotional nourishment also).

Like all healthy, long-living cultures have shown, ideally a good quality, predominantly whole food-based diet, should be the foundation, and then if there’s some supplements, food replacements or other products to make life a little more practical, assuming they are also good quality, then no great harm done I wouldn’t think. I travel a lot, so having good quality healthy snack bars etc, where I can get good nutrition in the event I cannot make my own, is really helpful for me.

I often get asked about such MLM companies and I always say try the product for yourself and if you generally feel they are beneficial, then keep taking them – though not at the expense of moving towards a healthy diet and lifestyle generally.

Hope that helps Jenni. Sounds like you are doing really well, so keep it all up. Cheers.

Mark Bunn

Mark Bunn – is a leading natural health researcher specialising in Ayurvedic medicine, author of the three-time best-selling ‘Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health‘ and one of Australasia's most popular health and performance speakers.  Mark is also CEO of David Lynch Foundation Australia.