Healthy To A Hundred: Corinna Bellizzi of Örlö Nutrition On 5 Things You Need To Live A Long, Healthy, & Happy Life
Pursue a work life in which you feel useful and that’s aligned with your principles and ideals. You won’t always get the exact pick of the perfect job at the moment of visualization, but if you listen to your intuition and follow what feels right, you will enjoy the journey and you’ll be happy with where you land.
The term Blue Zones has been used to describe places where people live long and healthy lives. What exactly does it take to live a long and healthy life? What is the science and the secret behind longevity and life extension? In this series, we are talking to medical experts, wellness experts, and longevity experts to share “5 Things You Need To Live A Long, Healthy, & Happy Life”. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Corinna Bellizzi.
Corinna Bellizzi, MBA is a natural products industry executive and omega-3 expert who pioneered the growth of Nordic Naturals from less than $1 million to over $100 million in annual sales. Given her concern for the future health of people and the planet, she shifted her focus from fish-sourced omegas to algae in 2016. An activist at heart, she launched her podcast, Care More Be Better, in 2021 to cover social and ecological issues that affect us all. Today she leads Örlö Nutrition, a new brand that features the world’s first carbon-negative omega-3s. She hosts a new podcast, Nutrition Without Compromise, to support that effort where she covers health topics without compromising your ethics, or the health of our home planet.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
Having been born at home in Southern Oregon in the mid-70s to hippie parents, it may come as no surprise that I have always sought to live well by doing good. To add to this effort in my personal life, I started a podcast in 2021 called Care More Be Better. This show is an invitation to care more about social and environmental issues so we can all create a better world. It now ranks in the top 2.5% of all podcasts globally.
Throughout my career, I have built brands that commit to sustainable practices, that focus on educational marketing, and that produce a social benefit. Having spent 20 years in the omega-3 space, I made the decision to shift my focus from fish sourced omega-3s to algae back in 2016. I made this shift because I felt as though I had been living a double life. In one, I was an ocean activist, and in the other, an omega-3 champion who sold fish oils. This felt duplicitous. I wanted to create nutrition solutions that also preserve our planet’s precious ecosystems. This year, with the launch of Örlö Nutrition I realized that dream. This new algae-based supplement line is the world’s first carbon-negative omega-3. It sequesters carbon, produces oxygen, and provides omega-3s in a polar lipid form for 3X the absorption of fish oil. The solution is both vegan, and planet friendly. To support the launch (and because I love podcasting), I launched a new show called Nutrition Without Compromise. This show aims to help you achieve great health through nutrition without compromising your ethics or the health of our home planet. It already ranks in the top 10% of all podcasts globally.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Part of my origin story is that I was sure I wanted to be an archaeologist when I graduated with my BA in Anthropology from UC Santa Cruz back in 1998, but I needed a break from school to pay down my debt, and live a little. I developed a plan that included finding a job that would meet these 5 criteria:
- The job would pay at least $15 an hour.
- The company would be family owned, so I could see the direct impact of my work.
- Preferably, the job would touch on the sciences so I could remain engaged and learning.
- My work would benefit humanity in some way.
- I would not fall in love with the job, as I wanted to take this time to apply for PhD programs and begin the next phase of my academic journey a year or two later.
The planning was effective. I found a job that I thought checked all of the boxes as an Account Executive for an herbal extract manufacturer. Then, two months after starting this new job, I went to my first trade show — Natural Products Expo West. Mere moments after arriving at the venue, I knew I was in trouble. The presence of so many well-intentioned people in one place was palpable. I felt like I was part of something bigger than me, and that I could do more good working in this field than digging in the dirt. It felt like home.
I experienced an awakening of sorts. I was saying goodbye to my scholastic dreams and hello to what was becoming more clear each day — my purpose. I learned to listen to my intuition, and follow what felt right. With each role, I have continued to build plans with clarity, and check those boxes — but with each endeavor, I go for that gut check to see what feels right. If a project or a job aligns with my purpose of building a better future, I listen to that. If it feels like home, I definitely listen to that. Each of these choices has led me here, and I love where I am.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Fresh out of college at 22, Jennifer Higgins, who was my boss and the Director of Sales at Draco Natural Products showed me she believed in me. She gave me interesting projects, introduced me to the big-wigs that visited our booths at trade shows, and she included me in conversations at these events so I could develop strong relationships with industry executives. Since I was fresh out of college, and since this was my first job in the industry, I had no idea how lucky I was. She demonstrated her faith in my ability, and she bragged about me in front of another co-worker telling them how proud she was of me for how well I did at my first conference. I will forever be grateful to her for her guidance, acceptance, and faith. While I may lack the charisma that came so easily to her, I definitely brought with me the love, support and inclusion.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
The first three that come to mind are tenacity, or what I like to call “stick-to-it-ive-ness”, adaptability, and great note-taking.
Stick-to-it-ive-ness. Ultimately, when I believe in what I’m doing, I’m not easily derailed, distracted, or dissuaded from the path I’m on. I don’t take rejection personally, and I seek to learn from each rejection. I’ll ask direct questions about what I could have done better, or why a purchase or deal didn’t go through, and then take that learning forward in my next effort.
Adaptability. I’ve learned that social intelligence is a critical component of success, and that being nimble and able to shift your approach based on how another person is reacting to you is critical. This is especially important when working with people in-person, over screen share, or even over the phone. Pay attention to body language and tone. Reading the communication that happens between the lines is critical to success.
Taking Great Notes. I’ve often said that if I write it down, it happens. This is part of my daily practice. I’ll write down what I am working on, what I hope to achieve, and the steps to get there. Having a clear vision is great — but without great note taking, you might find that execution falters.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview about health and longevity. To begin, can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fields of health, wellness, and longevity? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
I have spent my entire career in the natural products industry, first as someone who helped companies formulate their supplements with over 100 different herbal extracts, each of which I had to understand deeply. I then shifted my focus to omega-3s and worked as the sales, marketing, and education leader for Nordic Naturals for nearly a decade. Given my early history in the industry, formulating many supplements, I have remained directly responsible for the creation of new products that integrated omega fatty acids, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and herbal extracts. I have expert-level knowledge on the ways in which essential fatty acids and other fats affect the many functions of our bodies, right down to the cellular level.
My unique contribution to the world of wellness is that I can walk the line between researchers and doctors, and the general public, creating a message that can be understood by anyone. I help people understand how they can balance their health by balancing their fats — and I can always nerd-out with those who want to learn more, especially as it relates to my two favorite fats — eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Seekers throughout history have traveled great distances and embarked on mythical quests in search of the “elixir of life,” a mythical potion said to cure all diseases and give eternal youth. Has your search for health, vitality, and longevity taken you on any interesting paths or journeys? We’d love to hear the story.
Coming from a background in anthropology, I thought about nutrition from an evolutionary perspective. How did we get to this point? Why did we make the major leap to become behaviorally-modern 30,000 years ago, even though our bodies had not changed for the 100,000 years prior? Could it have been the integration of Neanderthal DNA in our genome? Did this mix actually improve our brain chemistry and shift something in how we behaved as a collective, producing fixed art for the first time — as with the cave paintings in Lascaux, France?
As I began learning about omega-3s I thought more about how nutrition may have impacted our evolution. We evolved close to oceans and rivers for a reason. Fish provide a bounty of nutrition, and they also bio-accumulate the powerful omega-3s EPA and DHA from the algae they eat.
Like anything in the natural world, balance is key. When we consume too many omega-6s from cooking oils and animal fat, and too little omega-3s from fish, walnuts, flax and chia seeds, our health declines. Most Americans today have a diet that is 16:1. Yes, that means Americans generally consume 16 times more omega-6 than omega-3. The ideal ratio is closer to 3:1, though many experts prefer 1:1.
I do not believe there is one magic pill or elixir that will extend our lives. That being said, the closest thing we have to an elixir is achieving balance in our diets. When we live that reality, we shine.
Based on your research or experience, can you please share your “5 Things You Need To Live A Long & Healthy Life”? (Please share a story or an example for each)
In order to live your longest, happiest, and healthiest life, you really need to get your diet sorted. Too often we consume things that are bad for us because we’re in a rush or we crave them. And when we get in that habit, it becomes a slippery slope. Our bodies become under-nourished even while we may be overconsuming calories. For this reason, I’ll focus on 5 ways that getting enough omega-3 in your diet, and balancing your fats can support a long and healthy life.
Omega-3s For A Longer Healthspan (and Lifespan)
It is no mystery that regions of the world with the highest rate of longevity tend to be coastal, have diets that are high in seafood, and lower in animal meats, and a culture that includes a good deal of walking. Think of Japan, and The Mediterranean. Indeed, this is part of the reason that The Mediterranean Diet became so successful in support of heart health. By consuming more whole foods and seafood, less fried food, and replacing much of the oil in one’s diet with olive oil, people correct their fat imbalances, and get closer to a 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. When we consume less junk, walk more, consume more omega-3s and less omega-6s than those “flyover states” our healthspan improves, and with it our lifespan.
One more way in which omega-3s support a longer healthspan and lifespan relates to their impact on DNA protection. EPA and DHA not only support the production of resolvins which resolve inflammation, they help us create protectins which protect our DNA from corruption. Because they protect our DNA, we are less likely to see disease states erupt throughout our lives. For this reason, anyone interested in longevity should always ensure they consume a direct source of EPA and DHA every single day.
Omega-3s make you Happier
EPA has been shown to have a direct connection to mood health. The reason scientists believe it works this way has to do with its power to support the creation of resolvins in our bodies. Resolvins act to resolve inflammation. Once the inflamed brain returns to a healthier state, your mood invariably improves. Reducing your consumption of omega-6s is also immensely helpful, since overconsumption of omega-6s creates a pro-inflammatory environment. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is automatically omega-6 heavy.
Omega-3s For Better Brain Health And To Preserve Memory
DHA makes up half the fat in our brains. It is involved in cell-to-cell communication, supporting our neurotransmitters. Without enough DHA our signals don’t fire properly. When we get enough omega-3s EPA and DHA our brain’s neuroplasticity remains intact — which means that our cells in our brain are more fluid, flexible, and capable of doing their jobs. You will find yourself having better recall, clarity, and even remembering things from your distant past as clearly as if they happened yesterday.
Omega-3 DHA for Clearer Vision
DHA also makes up half of the fat in your eyes. People who consume enough omega-3 DHA often report a few positive effects, from experiencing fewer dry eye symptoms like scratchiness, and fuzzy vision to even improved vision. One of our first testimonials for Örlö Nutrition came from a guy living in Arizona, where desert conditions can make dry-eye complaints commonplace. They had tried omega-3s from fish oil several times without real success. They started using ours and within 3 days, their dry eye symptoms had disappeared. The reason we think this happened so much more quickly with Örlö is simple — because in the polar lipid form, it’s simply absorbed much more quickly than fish oil.
I might not have believed in the power of omega-3s to support eye health quite so easily if I hadn’t experienced it myself. When I first started taking omega-3s I noticed what I thought to be clearer vision, and then after a while, I started to suffer from eye-strain and headaches. I went to the optometrist, and he said that my vision had improved. My prescription was therefore too strong, which caused eye-strain and headaches. We corrected my prescription and the headaches went away. Six months later, the same thing happened. Again I went to the optometrist and again they said my vision had improved. My vision improved 6 steps over 3 years before leveling out.
Omega-3s For Less Pain Sensitivity
People who have lower levels of omega-3, or who have an omega-6:omega-3 ratio that is less than ideal tend to have greater pain sensitivity and more painful symptoms. When you correct this issue, joint comfort improves. You may even find that you have fewer headaches. A correlation has also been drawn between painful PMS symptoms and under-consumption of omega-3s. Working to ensure you get enough of these powerful fats throughout the month can actually lessen complaints related to menstruation. Other fats that also help alleviate some of these hormonal balance issues include gamma linoleic acid (GLA), which supports hormonal health in women. It’s found in evening primrose oil and borage oil which are both readily available at your local health food store.
The combination of all five of these factors means one simple thing:
Still, reducing your consumption of omega-6 while improving your consumption of omega-3 is your surest path to success. I hope you’ll check out what we’re doing with Örlö Nutrition and consider subscribing today. You’ll save some funds while ensuring you stay in the daily habit of supplementing your diet. Since all Örlö supplements are carbon-negative, and 3x more absorbable than fish or krill oil, you can rest easy knowing you’re supporting a sustainable solution that actually delivers the power of these important fats.
Can you suggest a few things needed to live a life filled with happiness, joy, and meaning?
To lead a joyful life we need to build a few key habits including:
- Writing down or speaking what we are grateful for each day.
- Spending time outdoors with nature while doing nothing. These peaceful moments can supply incredible inspiration. It is as if the birds and the trees are telling us their secrets.
- Accept that life has its mysteries and allow yourself to revel in them. Allow your mind to wander as you approach questions with wonder.
- Set routine times to unplug from your devices as you spend time with family and friends. Listen to music, laugh, eat, hold one another, and live in the moment.
- Pursue a work life in which you feel useful and that’s aligned with your principles and ideals. You won’t always get the exact pick of the perfect job at the moment of visualization, but if you listen to your intuition and follow what feels right, you will enjoy the journey and you’ll be happy with where you land.
Some argue that longevity is genetic, while others say that living a long life is simply a choice. What are your thoughts on this nature vs. nurture debate? Which is more important?
A specific clinical study jumps to mind that I believe sought to tackle this question. It is a two-by-two analysis of a population in Spain. In this study, there were 4 groups.
- Smokers who also consume omega-3
- Nonsmokers who also consume omega-3
Interestingly, the result showed that smokers who also consume omega-3 had equivalent health to nonsmokers. This single study helps us understand that the answer is likely “both”. You could consider a smoker to be equivalent to someone with poor genetics. If you nurture that person really well, they are equivalent to someone with good genetics. Likewise if you take someone who has arguably good genetics and give them terrible nourishment, they’ll likely be much less healthy than the person with poor genetics at what scientists refer to as “baseline” — or where the individual was before treatment (good or bad) occurs.
Life sometimes takes us on paths that are challenging. How have you managed to bounce back from setbacks in order to cultivate physical, mental, and emotional health?
My biggest setback came in 2012 when one of my dearest friends was randomly attacked and murdered. Emotionally, physically, and spiritually, it was the most challenging year of my life. What enabled me to come back to life after a period of grieving, was a regimen focused on cleansing, on physical fitness and on my core nutrition. I decided that I needed to do a full body detox which would include daily stretches in the sauna of up to 3 hours a day, and hyper supplementation with water-soluble vitamins and electrolytes that I would sweat out (and of course my omegas). I kept this routine up for roughly 30 days and emerged a new human, ready to tackle whatever else life could throw at me. Sometimes, when we encounter challenges that seem insurmountable, we need a big reset button, and that’s exactly what I did through this regime.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
This simple quote serves as my mantra. I’m not sure who said it first, or if it was just me, but it’s something simple that has helped keep a smile on my face when I face something difficult or even when I fail.
“You just go and you make it.”
It came up first when I was active in the hobby car racing circuit, doing track days in my 2001 Mazda Miata. I ran off the track, throwing up clods of dirt and earning the “meatball flag” which meant I had to go into the pit for a good tongue-lashing and finger-wagging, followed by a tech inspection, before I could race again. I drove into the pit, and received exactly what I expected. “What were you thinking? You came into that corner WAY too hot. If you don’t check yourself, I’m going to have to ground you for the rest of the day. Why were you driving like that?”
“Sometimes, you just go and you make it,” I said, as I shrugged.
He responded while laughing. “You what? You just go and you make it?”
As one of the very few women who ever raced cars, and the only woman driving that particular day, what I had said made its round of the pits pretty quickly. When I came back in, done driving for the day, a crew of guys yelled “You just go and you make it”, in unison. I had earned my way into their ranks through my flub up and my flippant response to that meatball flag.
So, when I’m in doubt, and when I feel like I might not have the confidence I need to succeed, I think of that day, that moment, and remember that failure isn’t the absolute worst thing. It can provide a bit of humor, and even acceptance — if you let it.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
My work in the omega-3 space is focused on correcting the global omega-3 deficiency and helping people balance their health by balancing their fats. I believe this is achievable in my lifetime, and that it will help people live a longer, happier and more fulfilling life, but this reality is only attainable for people who have sufficient resources. Too many people still suffer in poverty. Food insecurity is a real problem, with one in seven people in the United States being food insecure right now. As a country of immense wealth, I personally find this statistic to be unacceptable, and it’s my belief that by shifting our patterns to support local and regenerative businesses, that we will move beyond the present reality and raise everyone up. I want to help create a movement towards localized, sustainable, and regenerative nutrition. If we can get more of our foods locally, while also focusing on sustainable solutions like algae-based omegas instead of fish oil, we will be doing the world more good. With Örlö Nutrition we seek to do our part. Every one month supply of algae omegas is equivalent to 110 fish not taken from our oceans, and 1.1kg of CO2 equivalent is also saved.
What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?
I am personally most active on LinkedIn and Instagram. You can find my handles for both work and play below:
Orlo’s Algae-Based Nutrition: https://orlonutrition.com
Social media: @orlonutrition, @corinnabellizzi
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.
About The Interviewer: Savio P. Clemente coaches cancer survivors to overcome the confusion and gain the clarity needed to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit. He inspires health and wellness seekers to find meaning in the “why” and to cultivate resilience in their mindset. Savio is a Board Certified wellness coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), stage 3 cancer survivor, podcaster, writer, and founder of The Human Resolve LLC.
Savio pens a weekly newsletter at thehumanresolve.com where he delves into secrets from living smarter to feeding your “three brains” — head 🧠, heart 💓, and gut 🤰 — in hopes of connecting the dots to those sticky parts in our nature that matter.
He has been featured on Fox News, and has collaborated with Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, Food Network, WW, and Bloomberg. His mission is to offer clients, listeners, and viewers alike tangible takeaways in living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle.
Savio lives in the suburbs of Westchester County, New York and continues to follow his boundless curiosity. He hopes to one day live out a childhood fantasy and explore outer space.