Let’s be clear: I’m a food writer—as far as the gut goes, my expertise relates to filling it. But for a couple years now, nutritionists and dietitians have been telling me that gut bacteria is the hottest area of research right now. The idea is that the food we’re eating is throwing the bacteria in our guts out of whack, and we need to stabilize it to make everything work properly.
John Peine was a Target executive when he and his wife were on vacation in Florida a couple years ago. “It was the most painful experience of my life,” he told me. At 3 a.m. she rushed him to the ER because of acute pancreatitis stemming from gall stones. “My pancreas was almost double its normal size and my body stopped producing enzymes properly,” he says.
Peine started doing research into probiotics and enyzmes. He led the healthcare division at Target, so he already knew a lot about supplements. Probiotics are well-known and well-tested. But “the power of enzymes is often overlooked,” he says. Enyzmes are active proteins that break down food, build muscle, turn carbs into energy. Many are naturally produced thanks to the stomach, intestines, pancreas, and liver. He came up with a product called FRISKA—he’s launching now. In the middle of COVID-19.
Production was uninterrupted, as dietary supplements were deemed essential. But marketing this when people aren’t going to stores as much? “The biggest wildcard will be the impact of the consumer,” he told me. “Retail traffic to stores is down significantly, but interest in self-care and wellness products has never been higher.”
So we’ll see how it goes. I’ve been trying:
- Nightly Reboot with melatonin and chamomile to promote sleep, and enzymes to facilitate food breakdown and promote healthy digestion.
- Men’s Daily to aid in the digestion of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats while boosting the immune system. (There’s a women’s daily, as well.)
There are seven other products, each designed to break down carbs, proteins, and fats, with additional ingredients to support immunity, mood, or energy. One’s focused on carbs, another dairy, another gluten, etc.
“In normal times, we would be blitzing ads and PR to drive people into CVS and Whole Foods, but we are taking a more muted approach and encouraging cvs.com, Amazon, and our own website instead,” Peine told me. So if you’re into it, it’s about $1 a day for the supplements ($30 a bottle), and you can find it at FRISKA, launched Friday at CVS Pharmacy, cvs.com, Whole Foods stores, and the FRISKA website.