Recently, we’ve found ourselves hooked on a new brand of chocolate-covered superfood protein bars. They look like Twix and taste like Ho-Hos, but they’re made of quinoa, pumpkin, sweet potato and a whole host of other nutrient-dense ingredients we were impressed (and relieved!) to see on the label. The bars are called DNA Life Bars. We knew we had to share them with our nutrition-obsessed readers, but when we heard the story of health and recovery behind the bars, we decided to dedicate an entire feature to the brand and we think you’ll get why. P.S. This story is not paid.
DNA Life Bars founder, Brian Layne, began the bar company for his wife. A few years ago, Layne’s wife began experiencing physical symptoms of what would turn out to be MS. Following the frightening diagnosis, in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves and can cause long-term pain, the family began their search for holistic solutions beyond conventional treatment. Their pursuit of natural resources led them to naturopathic doctor and MS expert, Ann Boroch. Boroch is the author of Healing MS: Diet, Detox & Nutritional Makeover for Total Recovery and after following her protocol Brian’s wife now lives symptom free.
Brain began whipping up these low-sugar high-protein uber-clean snacks to support his wife’s necessary (but restricted) new diet. After the inevitable taste-testings by friends, folks began insisting that Brian offer the bars to the masses and DNA Life Bars was born.
We were as impressed with the story of this company’s birth as we were the taste of their chocolate quinoa bars (our favorites!) Here is more of the story…
The Chalkboard Mag: First of all, DNA Life Bars are hands down the best healthy chocolate snack bars we’ve ever had. There are some great products out there, but yours are our favorites.
Brian Layne: Thanks, Suzanne. The flavor you are talking about is Chocolate with Roasted Quinoa and it has become our number one seller. Our customer loved the chocolate coconut fudge bar but they wanted more chocolate. Dipping the bar in pure chocolate was a good way to achieve that flavor, obviously. We also noticed that coconut is a love-it or hate-it ingredient for people, so we came up with quinoa as a healthy and great-tasting substitute.
My goal with the bars was to create a snack my wife would actually love and one that still had very low sugar content (2 grams!) and a ton of protein (14 grams). The bars are also rich in healthy fats – coconut, almonds and the like. We’re happy that healthy fat is no longer seen as the bad guy it has been made out to be. In addition, carbohydrates are a natural fuel for our bodies and the low-carb craze neglects the fact that healthy complex carbs, like the ones we use in our bars from organic pumpkin or organic sweet potato, are an excellent source of fuel for keeping you on the go.
TCM: Tell us how you started making the bars. Did you make something close to the finished product right from the start or did it take some massive trial and error?
BL: I started with the chocolate coconut coconut flavor (my wife’s favorite). It took a number of times to get it right. Then when I started to make them for sale, I had to reformulate to make them last as long as possibly without loosing the integrity of the bar. The bars are so fresh they must remain refrigerated. They taste great that way too.
TCM: You began making the bars for your wife after she was diagnosed with MS. Can you tell us about that journey?
BL: Yes, in 2009 and 2010, my wife was suffering very weird symptoms – numbness and tingling throughout the body, a lot like your foot falling asleep, but all over. The weird thing was it would be her whole right ride or her whole left side and would last for days. It got to the point were she could not feel the pedal of the car and that became dangerous. She developed something called the MS hug, which is where it feels like you are being constricted around your chest area and you can not catch your breath – very scary, especially when you have no idea what is going on.
We’d had six months of doctors visits and no one knew what was wrong. On a particularly bad weekend, we had a call into the neurologist to get my wife in for an MRI and he would not have it. He was adamant that she was fine and did not need an MRI. We ended up in the emergency room and they scheduled an MRI immediately. After additional testing they finally gave us the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. The head of neurology who gave us the diagnosis was the very same doctor who would not get us in for the MRI in the first place. It was an uncomfortable situation and really showed us how little modern medicine knows about the disorder of MS and how little they listen to the patient. It was a real wake up call to us and taught us that we needed to become our own advocates at times while still working with the professionals we were grateful to have access to.
TCM: Most people think of MS as a life sentence. It’s incredible that you were able to forego all symptoms with this diet! How long did it take to get to that state?
BL: I would say it took about six months for her symptoms to go away. The first 90 days of the protocol are really strict as you are trying to cleanse your body and this requires a very specific diet to get rid of the imbalances in your gut flora. After the detox, there is a rebuilding stage and that is when we started to experience a huge reduction in symptoms. You can’t imagine the relief.
TCM: What are the basic tenets of the diet that your wife has had so much success with?
BL: The basics of the diet include no gluten, no dairy, no soy, no corn, no sugar, and no alcohol. Most of the protocol relates to the importance of how we digest and metabolize these type of foods and the impact they have on the microbiome in our gut. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease. Most autoimmune diseases have a strong component of gut issues, usually resulting in leaky gut, which is where a lot of the symptoms that we recognize as disease start to come into play.
TCM: Are there lifestyle protocols to follow allow with the diet?
BL: I think the biggest lifestyle protocol that we follow for this is in managing our stress levels and making sure she gets plenty of rest. We have three kids and Liz is a full-time real estate agent, so this is no easy task. Autoimmune diseases are often interrelated with each other. Liz, for example, also has Hashimoto’s disease, which is a thyroid issue and this has a direct affect on the adrenal glands and how well you can handle stress.
There is also a fairly extensive list of supplements she takes to support her health. And she stays active with working out, yoga and hiking. Really, it is the lifestyle all of us should strive for!
TCM: What is your advice to those encountering an MS diagnosis, based on your experience?
BL: Get support from those around you. Go to the people you know will support whatever decisions you make. And become your own best advocate.
Do your research – there is a lot of great information on the internet. See something that appeals to you? Reach out to people who have tried it.
I think the MS community at large is very supportive. That being said, a lot of people have their own views. In the beginning, Liz was so excited about her results that she was talking to a lot of other MS suffers about her lifestyle–and they had no interest. They trusted the medication and, even if they were not seeing improvement, they did not want to try something else.
You need to arm yourself with a lot of knowledge before making a decision on treatment. My last notes on all of this is that, even if you go try to fight MS with natural remedies or medicine, your mindset is critical. You need to believe your body can heal itself and you need to take a look at the negative messages running in your head. Negative messages will cause major problems, no matter how you try to treat disease. Liz now feels that if her mind was not right about healing her body, just changing her diet would not have been enough. You have to want health and believe you can achieve health.
As you mentioned above, we used our naturopath’s protocol as found in her book Healing Multiple Sclerosis.
The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program.