Kara Landau is a world leading expert registered dietitian who specializes in PRE-biotics and the role that gut healthy nutrition plays in improving your mood. The founder of the venture backed digestive and gut friendly functional snacking brand Uplift Food - Good Mood Food - which offers patent protected, clinically proven Prebiotic Puffs, Gut Happy Cookies, and more; Karas mission is to offer prebiotics, the missing nutrient from everyone's diets in enjoyable to consume formats, to help everyone live their happiest and most uplifting life!
Laurel Mintz, founder and CEO of award-winning marketing agency Elevate My Brand, explores some of the most exciting new and growing brands in Los Angeles and the US at large. Each week, the Elevate Your Brand podcast features an entrepreneurial special guest to discuss the past, present and future of their brand.
You're listening to the Elevate Your Brand podcast, where we talk to some of the smartest entrepreneurs and fastest growing brands in the market, today. I'm your host, Laurel Mintz, a reformed corporate MAA attorney who founded award winning LA based marketing agency Elevate My Brand. We've elevated some of the world's biggest brands from Facebook, Paw Patrol and Verizon to innovative startups you haven't even heard of yet. Are you ready to elevate your brand? Keep listening.
Hi, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of Elevate Your Brand. Of course. I'm your host, Laurel Mintz. And I'm joined today by Kara Landau, who is the CEO and founder of Uplift Food. Kara, thank you for joining us today. Thanks for having me. So tell us what Uplift Food is and what it's all about.
Uplift is a prebiotic functional snacking brand that I founded a few years ago that focuses on creating different ways of people getting gut healthy nutrients in clinically proven doses into their diet, but in snackable ways so they don't need to go for more supplements.
Why is that so important right now?
Well, gut health is linked to so many areas of our health, and prebiotics, which are the food for the probiotics, are a missing nutrient from almost everyone's diets. No matter if you follow a healthy diet, be it plant based or whatever you want to refer to as healthy, it can often be still lacking in this vital nutrients. And in particular, Uplift Food is really focused around how when you nourish your gut health, you actually can support your mood and your mental health. And given how stressful the last couple of years have been, people coming out on the other side and reentering the world, I really want to ensure that we are nourishing our guts to the best of our abilities so that we can take on the world and they are best sells.
Wow. Okay, so I have so many questions. So I always learned about probiotics, which are the things that I drink when I drink my Kombucha. But what you are talking about is what is almost like a foundational baseline necessity within your gut in order to support the function of that probiotic. Is that what I'm hearing?
It is so accurate. We are born with so many different probiotics in our gut and they are there to play so many different roles, but really they're very important for our immune system. And what we know is that when people aren't consuming prebiotics, as years go on, all these diverse probiotics start to die off because they're not being fed. And when that happens, that's when people start to if they feel there's some negative effect on it in their body or they can't work out why they're not responding in a way to particular nutrients or whatever it is, they then start to try to supplement with one or two or three different strains of specific probiotics. But in reality, we all have such diverse microbiomes, and we need these diverse probiotics that are there to be fed. And so prebiotics are almost like a preventative measure by just nourishing what we already have inside of us. You then don't need to try to source the one or two that you need. And to be clear, most people don't even know which specific strains they need. And so it turns into a little bit of a guessing game.
Yeah, I think that's so cool because I think the prebiotic conversation is still pretty nascent. I think everyone got on the health aid Kombucha bandwagon for probiotics and gut health, and that conversation is more prevalent right now. But I still think people don't understand the prebiotic piece of it and why it's such an important foundational component. So can you share with us a little bit about your journey and how you came just focus on this particular area because it's so niche and focused, but it's also so credible. It's like building the right foundation for a house you can't build on sand, right?
That's right. That's right. I'm a registered dietitian. And about 15 years ago, I had a private practice. And all the people that kept being referred to me by the medical practitioners, they may have been coming for diabetes or for heart disease or for weight management, whatever it was. At the end of the day, we kept coming back to them having these digestive troubles or needing to manage their blood sugar levels and all these different things that would actually ultimately come back to me recommending the same types of foods, being higher in dietary fiber, making sure their gut health is intact so that then they don't get bloated and uncomfortable. It was sort of from both that top level of how do I keep my weight down and how do I feel full from my meals and that kind of thing. But then it was also disease management and prevention. And what I found was that I just kept recommending these nutrients, and yet they were missing from so many people's lives. And then fast forward another ten years of my career. I was working with food companies, with innovation. I was working as a spokesperson for the Australian Dietitians Association. And then I actually led into being a spokesperson for the Global Prebiotic Association once I was here in the US. What I guess I found is that as time went on, science kept building and building and building on the importance of gut health and the importance of dietary fiber and specifically in my niche on prebiotics. And I can help discuss the difference between those because they're not one and the same all the time. Yet there was all these brands that were popping up with probiotics in their products, some with what I would call misleading marketing claims. But we can save that for another company. And then you had still this lack of this nutrient, these prebiotics that just as you say, it's nascent, like it still wasn't being spoken about. And yet when you go and you talk to GI doctors and you talk to registered dietitians in the field and you sort of go one layer deeper, this is what people are advocating for and saying this is really important. And so I just felt like there was such an opportunity for a company to take a stance and to start to get these nutrients out there and into people's lives. And I really did understand that I was coming in early. I understood that there was going to be a big education component. I mean, Probiotics got their claim to Fame because one of the big dairy yogurt companies, Daniel, however, we want to pronounce it in which part of the world they did a huge advertising campaign years and years and years ago and that kind of got Probiotics on the map at a more massive level of consumer. And so there's quite a few emerging brands that are really trying to push this out there. And I think as a result of more and more coming into the space, it is helping with the consumer understanding of the importance of it. But yeah, my background was so specific into gut and digestive health for so many years. And I wrote a book about how you can use nutrition to support your mood. It was based on personal experiences of wanting to understand how can I use my nutritional knowledge to support myself and therefore others in the process of getting through stressful life events and giving yourself the nutrition that you need so that you at least can put your best foot forward? So that's not another pillar that's working against you when there's so many other parts of life that we can't control. I tested myself as a guinea pig and way too many scientific papers. I wrote the book, published the book. This is now ten years ago, may I add.
Wow, before it's time. Super early.
Yeah, super early. And I guess it kind of went on that I really found this niche in prebiotics and the gut mood connection. And Lo and behold, today people are talking about the gut brain connection and the science is building on itself. And I'm not as crazy as some might have thought. I was thinking, yes, definitely becoming more of a commonplace conversation. I'm curious how much of the lack of prebiotics is due to the over processing of food and the GMOs and all the things like did this exist back in the day and we just didn't know about it, or is this more prevalent of an issue now because there's so much garbage in the world? I want to say a bit of both. So when we think about years and years and years and years and years ago, prebiotics were coming in the form of all these root vegetables that cavemen were eating and they were getting. I think there are studies that show that people were consuming up to 135 grams, which when you start thinking about five people are recommended to get up to about 30 grams a day. And most people in this space would say that's not even enough. But no one in a match level is reaching that. And we'll talk about fiber just for simplicity here. But prebiotics even more so less people are getting. But people all those decades ago, we're consuming this nutrient. And then, as you say, through processing, you lose so much of the prebiotics. I found that when I was a media dietitian and I was talking about the really nutrient dense forms of prebiotics I would be recommending. And it sounds comical when you think about it, but I was spitting out the truth. I was like, the densest forms of prebiotics come in foods such as green bananas, cooked and then cooled potatoes, unmodified potato, starch, dandelion Greens, chicory, roots, like things that most people were like cars don't have access to want to eat that every day.
True. And yeah, they either don't have access or they don't want. And I just thought there must be a way to get these into people's lives in formats that they are already going for and consuming. And that really is what led to me wanting to launch a functional snacking brand. I knew that between the different generations and the generations that are coming up to be the bulk of the consumers now, they were snacking.
We saw sort of a decrease in these bigger meals. Snacks were becoming your meals, et cetera. And Besides the pandemic, most people were on the go. And it was that on the go lifestyle. And I wanted to find a way to get these intricate, important nutrients and ingredients into people's lives in ways that as adults or as kids, they could enjoy. And so it wasn't another burden on them to think, oh, I have to take another tablet. I have to take another bit.
Totally. Let's take a quick break. And then I want to talk about the products themselves because it is a really fascinating model that you created. So let's take a quick break. We'll be right back. Today's episode is brought to you by Mexicraft Tequila Seltzer. It is a top shelf tequila seltzer made with craft tequila from Jalisco, Mexico, real juice and sparkling water. Each can contains a shot and a half of premium Blanco tequila, which you all know is my favorite and no more than 3 grams of sugar. For those of you watching that, you can get it in Whole Foods in Southern California or order it online at www.mexiseltzer.com, follow them on IG @mexiseltzer and use podcast20 for 20% off your first order. Thanks for sticking with us. And if you're just tuning in, I'm chatting with Kara Landau, who is the CEO and founder of Uplift Foods. We're talking a little bit about the form at which you decided to package the product in this could have been in pill form, powder form, drink form, anything. But you decided because you saw a trend in the market in terms of the snacking movement, let's call it, and wanted to make sure that you were creating a product that was ease of use.
So the product that you are most known for is your prebiotic puffs. And I have to tell you, I love them so much. My husband ate them with me, and he didn't have any idea they were healthy. And that was just fine with me. And I think that was your point of making something that is nutritious and delicious so that it's not an extra burden, as you said before the break. Right.
Yeah. And look, we have tested different product formats over the last couple of years. And in terms of providing this so called nutraceutical benefit, because we don't just include a sprinkling of a nutrient, which a lot of companies do, and then make a claim because this one ingredient is in it. And we say, therefore, our products are prebiotic. That's not what we do. We actually get some real science behind the levels of the nutrients that are included in our products. And that dose provides a prebiotic benefit to the consumer. And so it really is like putting a supplement and a snack in one. And what we found was that we started with a cookie, but when we worked out how people were consuming the cookie, it was really more they were looking for it as like a crumble over their yogurt. So they were almost looking at it as a breakfast option or a very healthy snack, but it looked like a sandwich cream cookie, which I think was confusing for a consumer who associated very sickly sweet products with the sandwich cream. Whereas when we launched our prebiotic pups, it was such a different response than that. That may be because it was in the savory format, because when people think about savory snacking, sometimes with whole grains, that could convert into being something to do with fiber. Our puffs do provide 8 grams of fiber per serve, which is unheard of in the snacking space, but it also provides you with a clinically proven dose of prebiotics and probiotics together as well. So it was really quite a unique combination that we found people were just loving to consume and to share with their families.
So I'm really glad to hear not to mention that they're delicious. I mean, let's talk about the flavor profiles. They're so yummy. I have to say, if I'm being bad, I am definitely a Cheetos girl. Like, the Cheetos puffs are my go to snacks. So when you and I first met and I thought that this was the product, I was like, oh, my God, yes. A better solution for something that I feel super guilty about when I eat it, which is like guilt free snacking, which is pretty amazing. So I do want to mention that not only is it super good for you, but it's delicious and I love the unique flavor profiles that you have. The sweet and spicy. I actually think that the Apple cider vinegar was my favorite. That little bit of Tang along with the crunch is like so perfect. Good.
Yes. We are finding that people think they're going to really love one and then they end up saying we like them all, but surprised that this other flavor was our favorite. So in a good way, they seem to all be that we don't have one that's flying higher than the rest. They have all been really well received. I think I seem to enjoy them all at different times. When you're in the mood for something a little bit different, they come in Apple cider vinegar and sea salt, which is like a salt and vinegar flavor. We have a plant powered cheese, which as you say is like the cheese flavored Cheetos. But instead of giving you mostly refined carbohydrates here we give you 8 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, and all for 120 calories and not very high in your total net carbohydrates of people that are watching that. So help with blood sugar regulation and all of that good stuff. And then we have our sweet and spicy that you mentioned, which is not too spicy for those of us get a spice, but definitely give a little bit of a kick and a bit of a sweet flavor and seems to be going well, they're delicious.
Now let's pivot and focus a little bit on the branding and the meaning behind the branding because I love the name Uplift Food. It's such a fun name from a marketing perspective, but I know it has a lot deeper meaning. You mentioned a little bit earlier in the podcast, but share with us how gut health impacts your mood.
Yeah, something I'm really passionate about is mental health and I have been for years. I think that I'm a dietician, but when I think about what I go and dig deep into personally and I think affects everyone's lives is our mental health and it rolls into every aspect of our life. And as a dietitian I wanted to work out how can we use nutrition as a tool to feel our best so that no matter what's going on around us, we can still be our best self, our strongest self and take on the world. So what I found through all this research was our gut and our brain are directly linked. We know that when we have good gut, it's a bidirectional relationship, meaning that when you have good gut health, you actually can reduce the inflammation that goes to your brain, which is linked to anxiety and depression. So it can help that way. But also like if you've got poor gut health, you release more inflammation. And so you're going to have more inflammatory molecules going to your brain, and then it exacerbates something negative, because when you are stressed, that then leads to your gut. And it just sort of exacerbates it even more. So really, we can get this system working for us or we can have it working against us. So I wanted to help kind of put that pillar down and then say, let's work by making our gut work in our brain's favor, and then our brain will start to work in our gut favor, and it'll be a really positive loop rather than a negative.
Right. People see that in the day of the day, when you talk about it, it's very scientific. And you've obviously done a ton of research around this. But just think about for those of us who aren't science focused, when you're in a bad mood or when you're unhappy or when you're depressed or anything, like you eat garbage, and then it perpetuates that feeling bad.
Right. That's kind of what you're talking about. But we've all experienced that in our day to day lives. Yeah. And people think about they got butterflies and they were nervous before public speaking or whatever it was. When you're really stressed, sometimes people lose their appetite or sometimes they go for foods that are going to be comfort foods or whatever it is you do find that you feel it in your digestion. I know some people when they're very stressed, then when they eat something, they can get particularly bloated or pains in their stomach or something, that's because they're not digesting it properly. We can talk about it anecdotally or I can talk about it scientifically. At the end of the day, it's real. What I'm trying to help people understand is that by nourishing ourselves with the best nutrients for you, you really can affect so many more layers of your life than solely your waistline, per se. And that really is the message behind Uplift and Uplift Food. And that's why I wanted to name the brand Uplift Food, because I wanted to show people there really is a way that this is connected. And as you say, it's fun from a marketing perspective. I want people to have a positive experience with the brand. And you can see that through anything we create has a very uplifting message to it or visual to it. And as we grow, hopefully that message and that mission behind the brand will be able to come through even more.
I definitely see that in the marketing aspects. And I also love that you've chosen a name that isn't so sciencey and so intimidating. Right. I think there's a lot of intimidation factor that goes into understanding the gut biome and what works for you and your specific biome. As you said, everyone is so individual, unique and different. We're going to take another quick break. We'll be right back. If you're listening to this podcast, it's probably very likely that you've worked with a marketing agency that hasn't really worked out. That's why Elevate, my brand has developed our roadmap to marketing process. We use an extremely datadriven approach to show you exactly what your competitors are doing in the Omnichannel space so that we can develop a strategy and tactical approach to success in your marketing. Call us today and let's get mapping. Thanks for sticking with us. Chatting with my friend Kara Landau, CEO and founder of Uplift Foods. Although there are multiple different products, so we talked about the cookies, we talked about the puff. There's also a powder, I believe, correct.
We have our daily uplifter, which is a powder that we recommend people use inside their favorite recipes. So, you know, rather than thinking of it as a supplement, we like to show you that particularly we find people like having it if there's someone who eats cereal but it's not high enough in fiber, it doesn't give you pre and probiotics. It doesn't give you a lot of these plantbased nutrients that we offer, such as vitamin D and magnesium, coming from things like high vitamin D, mushrooms and pumpkin seeds. So all natural whole food sources which support your mood or your guts between different ingredients, we find that people love. They just add a tablespoon of that and it mixes. We've got an unflavored and a vanilla. And if you use the vanilla, it turns your milk or plant milk of choice into sort of a sweet tasting vanilla flavor. But it boosts your breakfast with 7 grams of fiber, things like that.
So I put collagen in my coffee. Would that be a good supplement option as well, to add that on top of it?
Yeah. What we have found is that people love to put their favorite protein powder with this together, and you then get the dual benefit of satiety from the protein powder with the fibers and the prebiotics. What we do know is Uplift Food is very we haven't really spoken about it, but we try to help people get more what you call resistant starch, which is a specific type of prebiotic that's particularly gentle on the stomach. And even though it's called starch, as the name would suggest, it resists digestion. And it goes to the lower part of our digestive system where it feeds the good gut bacteria. And it really does act more like a dietary fiber. And we have a lot of them throughout all our products. And when you pair Interestingly protein with resistant starch specifically, it actually helps you feel really full for not just the meal that you ate, but in your next meal. They find that people then consume less calories at their next meal because their blood sugar levels have still been really regulated more than if you had just had protein on its own or even protein with a regular sort of normal type of fiber. So we really do love that people partner those up and we in all our products do I mentioned we have protein and fiber or prebiotics in our tests and in all our products, it's something that I try to formulate in so people feel really satisfied.
It's so fascinating. I mean, there's just so many we could speak for. I'm sure you could speak for hours about this topic. I mean, there's just so many nuances to how to take the nutrients in what capacity and what timing and before meals, after meals, and how it affects your mood and all. There's just so many pieces of this conversation. I just find it absolutely fascinating. And I love that you really doubled down in a category that historically was not really talked about. But like we said, now it's much more of a prevalent conversation as it relates to overall health and wellness. And there are some big companies paying attention. So can you talk about your partnership with a major company that's helping you create these new products and distribute them?
So we have a couple of different partnerships. I think you will be talking about Mondelies International, who invested in Uplift very early on. So makers of Oreos and Nabisco and a whole lot of big brands. We were their first investment in the start up and they have been obviously through their research, there is a need and a desire for these types of food products. They've been a great partner with us. They are a minority investor in the company. So I very much still guide what we make and what comes out into the world. But they've been very hands on and supportive of helping with product development and sharing insights that usually a startup wouldn't have access to. So, yeah, it's been a very interesting journey. And we also actually are working with it hasn't been released yet, but we are working.
You heard of your first.
Yeah. You are actually working on some co branded products with UNFI, who has some in house brands that are their own. And they also approached us around how could we get developed some products that give the benefits that Uplift Food is all about with some of the brands that we've had that have been on the shelf for years. And so we've been working on that in the background as well. So I definitely do see that there are opportunities that can be created when you partner with these conglomerates. They work very differently to start ups and it's not people share the highlight reel, but there's obviously more to it and there's a lot of patience involved, which is not really the way that startups operate. We're always trying to run and sprint. But I do believe that by working together we can have more impact. And ultimately my mission is to get prebiotics into more people's hands. And that's why I've taken this approach of looking for different channels that we can do that as Uplift Food.
Well, I think the big takeaway from the partnership track is that clearly there is a need there because these kinds of companies don't bet on horses that don't run. These are like very serious companies that have, like you said, experience, data, a lot of different components that a start up wouldn't have. So the fact that they've decided to go in this direction is showing the world that this is a complex conversation that they want to be a part of, they want to be in the dialogue with, and they are looking to you to kind of leave that conversation. So I think it's showcasing that there is a bigger need out there in the world for products within this category, which is amazing. It means you're really leading the charge. So Congratulations. It's very exciting.
Thank you. Thank you. Working hard every day.
Of course, hustling and sprinting is used said in the last few minutes we have left. I always like to pivot and talk a little bit about who you are as a founder and just share the human side. So these are some quick fire questions to answer. Top of mind. The first question is, what is the one thing you could not live without during the pandemic? And you can't sell your own product?
My puppy. She was my entire way. Yes, my puppy.
What kind of puppy?
She's a King child. Chevalier.
Oh, my gosh. I have one too. They are so sweet. I love that. And I like you even more now knowing that we have the same dog. What is your go to vice of choice in the evening.
Since the pups have been developed, I do go for the pups, which I don't really call them advice, but I've been eating up prebiotic pups evenings.
And do you drink? If you drink, what is your go to? Cocktail or drink of choice?
Always lovely for hot summer day. It's very on brand right now. I actually had those last weekend with my husband, so I'm just liking you more and more. We're so alive. If you could wave a magic wand and have the world open up and have anything you wanted for uplift food, what would that look like?
I would have uplift. I would have enough capital and enough buyer support to roll up the food out in more markets and to be able to help get the products into more people's hands.
So it's really about scale for you. That's right. Yeah, absolutely. Last question is, what is your favorite word and why? This could be a word that's had real meaning to you over time or something that just pops in your head during this conversation.
Perseverance is a big word for me, and I think that is sort of symbolic of my life and as an entrepreneur my entire career.
Perseverance share with us where people can find your amazing products both on and offline. And then I'll give you the floor to wrap up with any final words with them.
So upliftfood.com would be the easiest way for anyone anywhere in the US to find us. We are in sort of natural and independence on the East Coast and the West Coast but I would recommend upliftdood.com or if you want really quick delivery of our puffs. We are in most States going through go puff as well because someone wants them in 30 minutes time.
After this after listening to this lovely and then any final words of wisdom from an entrepreneurial perspective, from a gut health perspective, anything you want to leave our audience with?
Lead, with passion, be humble, accept your weaknesses and try to get better every day and surround yourself with amazing people who can see the vision because you will need that through the harder bits as well and then we can achieve great things together.
I love it. Thank you so much for spending some time with us today. My pleasure. Thank you for having me and thank you to everyone who tuned in. Stay tuned for more from elevate your brand coming up next.