The Beauty Book Q&A with co-founder Christina Glucina

The Beauty Book Q&A with co-founder Christina Glucina

Established 8 years ago with just one product - Chia, Matakana SuperFoods now has developed more than 50 lines of superfood products and a skincare product, and the list is growing.

The Beauty Book caught up with Christina Glucina, wife of Kevin Glucina and co-founder of New Zealand’s first superfood company, which introduced us to products like chia seeds, coconut sugar and more.

What is the philosophy behind Matakana Superfoods?

What we eat and how we eat has a major influence on our wellbeing and quality of life. Our aim at Matakana SuperFoods is to make high quality, nutrient-rich superfoods and superfood blends that support health and wellbeing, available to everyone. As more and more demands are being placed on families, and people find themselves increasingly “time poor” the need to eat healthily becomes even more important. We really are what we eat, and what we put into our bodies is key to how we feel, function and age.

Kevin’s wealth of knowledge and experience in the health industry, along with his research expertise, has meant that we, as a company, are at the forefront of being able to bring new and exciting products to New Zealand from all parts of the world. In particular, we’ve been able to source foods with special, unique and health-giving properties that are not able to be grown in New Zealand.

How did Matakana SuperFoods begin?

Health and wellbeing has always been a priority for us. And having spent the previous 30 years involved in and passionate about health, moving into the area of superfoods and health supplements was, in a way, a natural progression.

Back in the 80s and 90s and long before it was trending, we were following an additive-free, chemical -free, wholefood diet and lifestyle. Social media didn’t exist. There was no Google, Facebook or Instagram and there were no lovely food blogs to follow. We were just totally committed to providing our children with the healthiest non-toxic diet and environment possible.

We were eating a lot of organic, plant-based foods and very little in the way of processed foods. Kevin had strong views on sugar even back then.He thought the trend in the 80s of adding diluted fruit juice to babies’bottles would set kids up for diabetes and potentially obesity. We allowed our kids to have treats but they were always of the healthy, home-made variety. They grew up drinking lots of water so never developed a craving for the sugar in fruit juice or other commercial sugar-laden drinks. The first time our eldest child had ice cream and regular sweets was at his 5th birthday party!

This investment in health also meant eliminating as many chemicals as possible in and around the house and not spraying for insects inside. At the same time, we were trialling gluten free foods, and Kevin first started talking about the value of super-nutrient foods with his patients in the early 90s. Foods like broccoli and almonds, not the more exotic sounding cupuacu, acai and sacha inchi that we bring in from sustainable farms in the Amazon today.

What exactly is a “Superfood”?

It is interesting to see the amount of foods being given the superfood tag these days, but from our perspective a candidate food has to bring something special to the table.

For example, it might be extremely high in a hard-to-find nutrient which is beneficial to health. A good example of this is Gac fruit which has by far the highest level of lycopene – a compound which, according to a large 12 year Finnish study, may reduce your chances of stroke and heart disease by up to 50% if you are getting enough of it. Another example is Goji, which has high levels of zeaxanthin - a compound which is important to help prevent macular degeneration of the eyes.

We firmly believe you will get better results from nutrients such as these if you take them in their whole food form – if not fresh then dried and powdered - rather than an as an extract isolated and added to a nutritional supplement. There are hundreds of associated plant compounds in a single superfood and as such, we don’t want to isolate just one or two of those compounds. To get maximum absorption and benefit, we want them all in there as nature intended.

Any new or exciting products you can tell us about?

Yes. We are becoming a “one stop natural sweetener supplier”. With the rates of obesity and diabetes on the rise everywhere, it’s more important than ever to watch our sugar intake. We now have a great selection of natural, low GI, low sugar and/or low calorie sweeteners to choose from such as yacon, stevia, lucuma, coconut nectar and coconut sugar. One exciting new product called Monk fruit is actually 200 times sweeter than sugar but because it gets it sweetness from a naturally occurring chemical called mogroside, rather than sugar, it doesn’t affect blood sugar levels. Another product, yacon root powder, has special sugars which are very pleasantly sweet, but don’t get absorbed by the blood stream instead going straight to the bowel to provide nutrients for the beneficial bacteria that keep the bowel healthy 

What are some of your personal favourites?

Where do I start?!! I’m spoilt for choice of course, but both Maqui and Goji are favourites of mine because of their various unique and special health properties.

Our SuperGreens blend and our Supershake formulation are also personal faves. These two blends use very high quality ingredients (chosen for their super-nutrient and health-giving properties) and are extremely easy to take. They contain ingredients you won’t find in other formulations, and unlike a lot of other products on the market, you won’t find 30 or 40 different ingredients in them. By keeping our ingredient lists to our “Top 7’ and “Top 12 Superfoods” respectively, means that you get more of a few high quality, key ingredients rather than a diluted, minute amount of a lot of ingredients.

Oh and they taste pretty good too!

Where to now for Matakana Superfoods?

2015 will see our products enter the Australian market through a distribution agreement. We’re also keen to get some of our world-leading products into the European and Asian markets and are on the lookout for distributors there, as well as expanding our facility in Matakana and still having enough balance in life to enjoy the whole process.