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Superfoods For Superlife: Traipsing the Globe In Search of Optimal Nutrition & Longevity With Darin Olien

By June 21, 2015January 26th, 202425 Comments

What am I supposed to eat? How can it be that every beast, every fish, every insect—every other critter on the face of the planet—can figure this out so easily, and yet here we are, still wondering?

Darin Olien

What’s it like to traipse the far outreaches of the globe in search of the the world’s greatest edible food sources for optimal health?

Meet the Indiana Jones of Superfoods.

This week my friend Darin Olien joins me to share insights and wisdom from his extraordinary adventure-based experiences as a widely recognized exotic superfoods hunter, wellness advocate & environmental activist.

Darin’s passion was seeded early. Attending his father’s lectures on agricultural business at the University of Minnesota birthed an early appreciation of whole food nutrition. But it wasn’t until a football injury sidelined a frustrated young Darin that his curiosity in the relationship between food and health begin to truly take root. A curiosity that began with a simple question:

There must be a better way to heal myself.

The intrigue that evolved from that initial query has been an ongoing, twenty-year plus quest for better, more natural pathways to ultimate wellness. A journey that led Darin to study exotic, indigenous herbs and superfoods from every imaginable port of call across the developing world. Communing with thousands of rural farmers, growers and manufacturers in remote communities across Peru, Bhutan, the Amazon, the Himalayas, the South Pacific, Latin America and Asia, Darin now shepherds high-quality, fair-trade superfoods and herbal commodities to market through his company, Darin’s Naturals.

Perhaps best known for his work with fitness company Beachbody, Darin was instrumental in the development and ongoing formulation of the wildly successful whole-food supplement, Shakeology. He chronicles his experience in his new book Superlife: The 5 Forces That Will Make You healthy, Fit & Eternally Awesome – as well as on his website – where he demystifies health, fitness, nutrition, and longevity into simple daily actions designed to promote life-long wellness.

What is most intriguing to me isn’t just that Darin is a respected authority on the healing potential of food. And it isn’t just that he has been instrumental in introducing these so called superfoods to western consumers. What is most interesting is his commitment to do it right. A deep rooted responsibility to fairly, sustainably and transparently support the grower communities and their long-term interests.

Ripped and Malibu sun kissed, Darin more than resembles a plant-based version of his friend and workout buddy Laird Hamilton. So it would be natural to presume he has always been a model of health and fitness. But that presumption would be misplaced. Because for Darin it wasn’t always this way. Like all of us, Darin has faced many challenging and relatable life obstacles on his path to living what I think is fair to characterize as his best, most authentic superlife.

At the same time, the term superfoods is prone to cavalier overuse. Are these foods truly “super” or is it all just exaggerated marketing hype?

This is a conversation that explores that issue and so much more.

I sincerely hope you enjoy this exchange with a man who exudes positive energy, passion and enthusiasm for health. I look forward to your thoughts in the comments section below.

Peace + Plants,


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Thank you to this week’s show sponsors:

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Production, music & sound design by Tyler Piatt. Additional production by Chris Swan. Graphic art by Shawn Patterson.


Connect With Darin: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Background, Context & Reference:

Notable People Discussed:

Past Episodes Relevant to Today’s Conversation:

*Disclosure:Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

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  • Janet Raine says:

    Another super interesting show. i am becoming so educated through this podcast!

  • Tommy F says:

    Our body is such a miraculous gift.. Don’t treat it like a rental car.. Treat it like a brand-new car! The better we care for our vehicle, the longer it’ll last and better performing it’ll be for the short time we’re blessed to operate within it.

    The medical industry is like a bad mechanic, giving you shoddy repairs which leave you stalled and broken-down further down the road. The “good mechanic”, is the bodies’ internal healing mechanism. If we provide it with the nuts and bolts (nutrition) it needs, the cells become the minions working towards repairing/maintaining the best version of our physical self. Rely on the “mechanism”.. not the “mechanic”…


  • Zachary says:

    Great episode. And thanks so much for providing links to articles on topics you touched on for those who want to explore further!

  • Everett says:

    Loved this podcast, as I’ve loved the 152 podcasts before it. The passion for health and wellbeing exuding from Darin Olien is infectious. I’ve got no problem with someone pursuing their Path with such vigor, and surely Mr. Olien had the best intentions in being “instrumental in introducing these so called superfoods to western consumers”, to use Rich’s words. However…

    The thing about superfoods is that for all the love we lavish upon them, they are quite simply unnecessary. Right? Aren’t there super healthy people living into their 90’s who have never had cordyceps? If I don’t live in a region that doesn’t naturally produce maca root, why would I stress out that I’m not getting its benefit? I’m willing to bet my health that the plums growing locally around me have just as much yummy nutrition as acai berries. So why burn all this coal to ship them around the world so the privileged elite can consume their dried denatured remnants out of plastic containers? Perpetuating the superfood hype seems to me silly at best, and, at worst, detrimental to the environmental/ecological/mindful/sustainable/green/insertbuzzwordhere ideal for which we are all striving.

    It’s great that Mr. Olien is doing everything he can to make sure his suppliers are treated well and rewarded fairly. Good on him. Is he sure every Goji berry farmer who supplies every company is treated in the same manner? Is he sure there is not at least one hungry native community somewhere denied their own local crops because Whole Foods just ran a sale on sprouted tri-color quinoa? Of course not. We certainly don’t hold him responsible for that. Yet by “traipsing the globe…like the Indiana Jones of Superfoods”, digging up these wonderful new foods that are so easily marketed and sold to a gullible lazy audience with a lot of money and a lot of bad health habits to cure, he is in danger of being somehow implicit in any potential exploitation that comes after him. Sometimes you might be better off leaving the treasures where you find them, Dr. Jones.

    I am surely being unfair, given to hyperbole. I welcome critical feedback from other listeners. I just wanted to get some thoughts down here, to where my own rocky imperfect journey has led me. Blessings to all. Peace and plants!

  • Tim Sparks says:

    This was another great episode. Already realizing I am not drinking near enough water. Eating plant based has been a huge improvement for me the last 4 months and I feel better than ever. But am looking forward to the results of adding more water and hopefully more sleep at the same time to the mix. As far as sleep is concerned I have some deep seeded habits I need to break.

    I have a few questions about Coffee, knowing not all coffee is equal just like the super foods and for Rich more about your sleep routine.

  • Julie Moen Berg says:

    Another great conversation. I didn’t realize Shakeology was ‘really’ a product full of superfoods. I thought it may be all hype. I love your podcasts. I feel like I am right in same room listening to the conversation. As a vegan ultrarunner I am constantly looking for an edge for a better recovery, a better race, a better me. I love this: don’t worry about catching something, don’t create an environment where the something can exist. I haven’t been sick in many years. Thanks for sharing the knowledge.

  • Josh G says:

    Oh boy. I love so many of these podcasts. Especially the ones with the MDs (Drs Kahn, Ostfeld, Davis). Fascinating. And what can you say about Wude? He’s a game changer and life transformer. Wonderful, wonderful work.

    However, I must admit that this one fell short of the mark. While there were many great points Darin made, there were some big problems with credibility as far as I’m concerned. How can I trust Darin (who professes to be a nutriton and wellness expert) about what he claims to be science when he continually referred to Loius Pasteur as the one who discovered penicillin??? That’s no small F-up. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin. Not Pasteur. It might seem like a small point, but if I’m giving a lecture about American history and I continually refer to Thomas Jefferson as the first American president, are you going to trust my message?

  • Julie Moen Berg says:

    Another great conversation. I didn’t realize Shakeology was ‘really’ a
    product full of superfoods. I thought it may be all hype. I love your
    podcasts. I feel like I am right in same room listening to the
    conversation. As a vegan ultrarunner I am constantly looking for an edge
    for a better recovery, a better race, a better me. I love this: don’t
    worry about catching something, don’t create an environment where the
    something can exist. I haven’t been sick in many years. Thanks for
    sharing the knowledge.

  • Amanda says:

    Josh – I agree. I really want to trust Darin but then wonder, why did he put whey in the Shakeology products? Wouldn’t someone who really understood about nutrition NOT use whey? This makes me think that either A) he doesn’t really know as much as he purports or B) he is using whey because it makes the shakes taste better or is cheaper or ??? and therefore loses all credibility as whey does not contribute to health. Would there be another reason? I’d love to know what Rich thinks about this issue.

  • Pam M. says:

    This was a great podcast and very informative! I loved hearing the details of Darin’s success and the man behind the Shakeology formulation.

  • Darin Olien says:

    Hey Josh! Great catch. That is my mistake. I got caught in so many topics with Rich. It was not Pasteur obviously but Fleming that discovered penicillin. What I meant to say and complete fully was the thought about ‘germ’ theory with medicine vs ‘host’ theory which started when Antone Bechamp and Louis Pasteur 2 french chemists essentially fought over their understanding and theories of chemistry and microbiology with Bechamp essentially understanding the balance of and the importance of environments we create with food and our internal system of digestion and health that support or don’t support health or disease. Pasteur believed as well as Fleming that we “catch” bacteria, colds, viruses, which is the ‘germ’ theory. Pasteur was a great orator and won the debate except now the research is disproving that and supporting Bechamps work of one creates environments that support health and invite disease out, “host’ theory, by the choices we make, the food we eat, etc.

    It is unfortunate my ADD kicked in and did not finish my thought fully or accurately and can’t go back and fix it but hopefully this makes better sense to at least you. I will do a blog on this and put it out there to better explain I very much appreciate you being keen enough to catch it!

  • Darin Olien says:

    Hey Amanda! When I first started developing Shakeology the intention was alway vegan except back in 2006 in the development the companies creating vegan proteins did not pass quality assurance standards much to my disappointment so I had to use the highest quality WPI. Since then the quality and supply has improved so I formulated Vegan options of Shakeology which of course makes me very happy. Being behind the scenes in the supply world, working with farmers and suppliers all over the world for so many years I see many products that just because other products exist on the market and they seem good does not mean they are safe and that is one thing I don’t take lightly. So now as a business choice there are both options for people. Some people do react to plant proteins so they do use the Whey with enzyme support in the formula for them as well. Hope that helps! Thanks for your concerns. I would have the same concerns so I am grateful for the questions!

  • Amanda says:

    Thanks so much for your reply! Makes me feel much better about the thought process behind Shakeology 🙂

  • Amanda says:

    Thanks so much for this reply – makes me feel much better about the product now I know the thought process behind it 🙂

  • Troy Delaney says:

    Is the whey derived from grass-fed cows?

  • Troy Delaney says:

    How do you measure your body’s is alkalinity and how do you
    know that you’re more acidic, causing your body harm?

  • Tommy F says:

    It’s rather easy actually..

    Eat Plant-Based = Alkalinity = Health & Vibrance
    Eat Animal Products = Acidity = Cancer & Death


  • Troy Delaney says:

    I was hoping for a more science-based response.

  • Darin says:

    Hey Everyone! A more clear explanation of Germ and Host theory I mentioned in the podcast about the start of of ‘modern’ medicine and the fall of balance whole medicine is in this artilcle I wrote…..check it out.

  • Brendan Lentz says:

    Rich – Thanks for introducing us to Darin and the world of superfoods. Another great episode!

    Question for Darin and everyone else who cares to respond:

    What superfoods are you currently using?

    Here is a list of what I’m currently using. Mostly blended for smoothies with fruits, greens, nut milks, nut butters, etc. I really don’t know much about one brand vs the other so if people have insights on that I would love to hear it. I’ve heard of Shakeology but I don’t recall ever seeing it in any supermarket.

    Hemp Hearts Manitoba Harvest
    Kelapo Coconut Oil

    Navitas Raw Chia Seeds

    Sun Warrior Warrior Blend Raw Vegan Protein Blend (Chocolate)

    Nutiva Hemp Protein (Chocolate)

    Ron Teeguarden Goji Berries
    Sunfood Maca Powder


  • Carol says:

    Wow! Absolutely loved this podcast 153! We need/want more of Darin! Rich-as usual, you did an outstanding interview. Thank you both!

  • Andrea Smith says:

    Thanks for asking that, Amanda. I was thinking the same thing. Thank you for answering, Darin.

  • Andrea Smith says:

    Thank you for answering this, Darin. Can you explain the reason for and the details of the other ingredients – “Non-GMO fructose, Natural chocolate flavor (with other natural flavors), xanthan gum” that come in the non-vegan chocolate shake? I noticed the fructose isn’t added to the vegan products, but the “natural flavors” are in tropical strawberry one (but not the chocolate) . Thanks!

  • Steve Matthew says:

    Great podcast great guest I’ve been a Beachbody fanatic for about 4 years just discovered rich roll this summer so it was nice to see the merger of two worlds and hear about the genesis of Shakeology. I’ve been using super foods in my smoothies since David Wolfe book came out and I feel pretty awesome though I’m still not sure if just eating healthy organic local produce is just as good we’ll see. Life is always a grand experiment isn’t it? Rich roll you continue to be a major inspiration in my life plant-based since June!

  • Steve Matthew says:

    Great humility in that response Darin

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