There have been a lot of moments in my life that I am proud of – and one of the most recent was this April when I announced that Adapt SuperWater, the beverage I created, was the first hemp beverage to earn NSF Certified for Sport® certification. Some people might wonder why this certification means a lot to me – and why I was determined to have this seal on every bottle of SuperWater.
First, it’s important to understand what NSF is and what it does. NSF International is a globally recognized organization that tests and certifies products to help protect consumers and athletes from harmful ingredients and athletic banned substances. In 2005, NSF launched its Certified for Sport® certification. Before that, steroids were tough to identify in products on the market because no organization was testing for steroids, banned substances, or adulterants. At a time when steroid use in professional athletics was rampant, many organizations and leagues expressed a need for this type of testing, which led to NSF working with Major League Baseball and other organizations on a product testing and certification program. The goal was that an athlete could pick up an NSF Certified for Sport® product and immediately know that it had been thoroughly tested for harmful ingredients, contaminants, and banned substances.
Fast forward to 2013 when I was a freshman on the football team at Oregon State. That’s when I first heard about NSF Certified for Sport® and why I should look for products that had that certification label on their packaging. One of the first lessons you learn as a college athlete in the United States – in any sport, in any division – is what you can do, what you can’t do, what you should do, and what you shouldn’t do as determined by the NCAA. You learn about the rules in compliance meetings, where coaches and members of the athletic department share information with athletes about what they need to do to be able to practice and compete.
I’m not going to lie to you – that first year at OSU, the compliance meeting was pretty overwhelming because there was so much information presented to us about the rules around being a college athlete. Most kids coming out of high school athletics programs were used to following their school’s and their team’s leagues’ set of guidelines and rules, but the NCAA takes that to a whole other level with collegiate sports. One of the many things we learned at that meeting was about eligibility – meaning, meeting the school’s and the NCAA’s expectations to be able to play and compete on the team. Part of that involved being hyper- aware of everything we put into our bodies – from food to beverages, from supplements to medications – and making sure that products didn’t contain banned substances.
It was in that first compliance meeting that I learned about NSF Certified for Sport®, and how important it was to stick with products that had earned the certification. These products were tested for over 280 banned substances in athletics as well as potentially harmful chemicals like lead and arsenic. When you buy a product that is NSF Certified for Sport, you are also guaranteed that the product’s label claims are accurate and that it’s been produced following Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) protocols. Looking back, I appreciate learning about NSF sooner rather than later, because it helped me figure out what products I should and could use and which I should avoid.
Now, as the owner of Adapt Brands, my number one priority is creating a product that is safe for athletes – professional, collegiate, and recreational – to consume. When I first had the idea for producing a hemp beverage for athletes in 2017, I immediately contacted NSF because I wanted my product to earn that certification. Unfortunately, hemp was an ingredient on the list of banned substances, which meant that Adapt wasn’t eligible. Even though hemp was made legal in 2018 in the US with the Farm Bill, it was still on the banned substance list.
Last year, when hemp was finally removed from that list, I immediately reached out to NSF to start the certification process. I was determined that Adapt SuperWater would be the first hemp beverage to earn the certification. It would be a game changer for the hemp industry, and a game changer for athletes who believe in alternative medicine and want to remain in good standing with their teams and their sports leagues.
On a personal level, having Adapt earn this certification was extremely important to me, given what I have experienced using hemp to manage my health and wellness as well as seeing firsthand the damage that opioids have done to people across the United States, from professional athletes to people living with chronic pain. When I badly injured my shoulder in college and needed surgery, I was determined to get off of prescribed pain medication as soon as I could because I knew about their addictive quality. Instead, I turned to hemp to help alleviate any discomfort I was feeling during the healing process, and it worked. That’s when I saw hemp’s potential as an alternative product for athletes.
Another moment that had a huge impact on me was the death of LA Angels pitcher, Tyler Skaggs, in 2019, at the age of 28. He overdosed on opioids laced with Fentanyl, yet another victim of the opioid epidemic plaguing this country. In the last ten years, half a million people have lost their lives to opioids. Half a million. I knew Tyler because we grew up in the same part of LA and because of the sports we played. He was two years older than me and absolutely someone I looked up to because he was so talented and so passionate about the game. The fact that the sports world could lose someone so gifted to a substance we know is highly addictive confounds me.
That said, things are changing in the world of professional athletics in regards to player safety in all leagues – not just in the United States but around the globe. My mission with Adapt is to provide athletes from all sports, of any level, with hydrating beverages that they can safely and confidently consume. This certification validates that there ARE safe, healthy alternatives to synthetic substances and beverages, and alternatives to traditional pain medications.
I’m proud beyond measure that Adapt SuperWater is the first hemp beverage to be NSF Certified for Sport. While we’re first, I know we won’t be the last – and that’s a great thing for everyone who believes in the power of hemp, the power of superfoods, the power of coconut water, and the power of rigorously tested, great-tasting natural products.