Whether you’re looking to bolster your wellness routine, learn more about healthy eating, or find an inspiring Fitstagram account, look no further than Who’s Good, a regular interview series from the editors of What’s Good that catches up with the best, brightest, and boldest the wellness world has to offer.
In 2008, Dr. Andrew Abraham founded Orgain—the go-to brand for clean organic shakes, nutritional powders, and more. We caught up with Abraham to learn about his inspiring journey from teenage cancer patient to medical doctor to entrepreneur, as well as the genesis of Orgain.
Thanks for joining us for Who’s Good, Dr, Abraham! To start off, can you tell us a little about your background as a doctor and wellness enthusiast?
I come from a family of physicians. Nearly everyone in my family is in the medical field, so it was instilled in me from a young age that I would also practice medicine. As a child, I enjoyed going along with my dad to see his patients, and as I grew up I continued to be intrigued by medicine, so after college, I went to medical school to become a physician.
Because of a serious battle with cancer as a teen, I started medical school with an unique interest and focus on holistic wellness and nutrition—focusing on preventative measures over simply treating an illness.
How exactly did your battle with cancer reshape your perspective of health and nutrition?
When I was 17, I found a small lump in my abdomen. I went from playing sports and feeling great to being diagnosed with aggressive sarcoma. We were praying that it was localized, but the cancer spread to my lymph nodes. I had radiation, chemotherapy, and even surgery.
I was in and out of the hospital and my body was really getting tested. I got down to less than 100 pounds, and at that point, my doctor explained that while the cancer was dangerous, malnutrition might be the thing that would kill me. He handed me a conventional nutritional drink, and told me to drink as much as I could. My mom—God bless her—bought 14 cases of the stuff.
I drank these shakes every single day under the assumption that they were good for me. They tasted horrid, so naturally, I thought, whatever is inside of this…if it tastes this bad it has to be good for me.
In an effort to pass the time while on bed rest, I started to read all about nutrition. One book turned into five, and then 20, and then 100. I think I read about 150 books about nutrition in total.
As I read and learned about nutrition, I came across a page in a book that listed ingredients one should never put in their body. So I checked what I’d been drinking—and was horrified to see that it contained all of those bad ingredients: high fructose corn syrup, genetically modified soy protein, artificial flavors, and preservatives.
It read more like a synthetic lab experiment than a food, which was horrifying. Because of this, I started to blend my own nutritional drinks at home, replacing those ingredients with organic whey, pea protein, and fresh fruits and veggies. Pretty soon, I was better tolerating treatments, gaining weight, and my energy improved. Essentially, I taught myself all about nutrition and wellness, and I learned along the way that treating yourself as a whole (rather than just treating the issue) is really powerful.
That’s incredible! So there was absolutely nothing like what you’d made out there already?
There was nothing like it! I asked around, “Does anyone make an organic ready-to-drink shake?” The answer was no. So I decided to make one, and it caught on.
Down the road, I was supposed to take over my dad’s family practice, but I was sure I wanted to focus on Orgain. I felt strongly that I could help many more people through Orgain than as a doctor.
Your story is so inspiring. What should people take from it, and what should they know about the intersection of nutrition and wellness?
Most people don’t know how good their body is actually designed to feel. When our bodies are properly taken care, we can really feel it. We have more energy, we can heal, we can avoid disease, and we feel better overall.
Even small changes in the right direction can improve our health. Invest in yourself and your body today, because it will pay dividends in the future. We live in a time when everything is moving more quickly and the body gets bombarded by pollution and stress. We have to do our best to counteract that. Nutrition is one major way.
Yes! Even small victories count! Now, who would benefit the most from your range of products?
It’s for anyone who wants to replace an entire meal, as well, since our shakes are a complete organic meal in a bottle. They contain protein, fat, and complex carbs. In fact, we receive lots of heartfelt letters from people who couldn’t tolerate conventional shakes and use Orgain products as a sole source of nutrition.
What sort of ingredients will customers find in your products?
We’ve got strict standards and are relentless about clean nutrition and great taste. Nearly all of our products are certified organic. We never use artificial ingredients or flavors or preservatives, and avoid sourcing proteins that have pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones. We encourage consumers to look at the label, too!
Can you tell us about your partnership with WhyHunger, and why it’s important to you?
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SHARE THIS POST & #ShakeHunger! Over 40 million people in the U.S. live below the poverty line. We've partnered with WhyHunger to #ShakeHunger! Together, we will work to close the nutrition gap in the U.S. by transforming the way food banks connect people with ✨nutritious✨ food. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ✨You can help!✨ SHARE THIS POST with the hashtag #ShakeHunger and we'll donate an organic shake toward the cause. 1 share = 1 shake. Want to do more? Visit Orgain.com/ShakeHunger (Link in bio).
We believe so deeply in the importance of quality nutrition, and see good nutrition as something everyone should have access to. So, we’ve partnered with NY-based nonprofit WhyHunger on a campaign called Shake Hunger, to help change the way food banks work, and increase access to healthy food. (You can support this initiative by here.)