A drink to your health

Nancy Dince, co-creator of LIV, is flanked, by her children, Sam and Olivia
Chilmark summer resident, Nancy Dince, co-creator of LIV, is flanked, by her children, Sam (left) and Olivia. Photo by Sara Piazza

By Eleni Collins - October 19, 2006

From a strong Island organic produce demand to the need for a greater YMCA, inhabitants of this small Island seem to be yearning for ways to improve their lifestyles by making them more natural and healthier.

One example of this can be found at the Chilmark Store, where Bill Rossi went through 80 cases of a new, healthy sports drink in less than a month. With almost equal success, the drink has also been sold at Alley's, Menemsha Market, and Espresso Love in Edgartown.

Creator Nancy Dince, a lifelong up-Island summer resident, and her partner Dimitri St. Phard are active in the athletic communities where they live, in Princeton, N.J. From running, teaching a spinning class, to her daughter's soccer games, it is not unusual that she has been approached by parents who wonder, "what can my kids drink, other than water?" Ms. Dince elaborates, "The unfortunate answer to give people was 'nothing.' All traditional sports drinks are entirely unhealthy."

With their large amounts of high fructose corn syrup for a sweetener and dyes for color, the leading sports drinks, such as Gatorade and Powerade, are generally unhealthy to drink, especially after a workout or sports game. They are known to dehydrate and even increase thirst because of their high levels of sweetener in the form of concentrated sugars.

Nancy displays the lemon-flavored LIV.
Nancy displays the lemon-flavored LIV at Alley's General Store this summer.

Ms. Dince then asked local heath food stores what they sold for sports drinks. Their reply? They didn't sell any, because "none of them are clean," recalls Ms. Dince.

This knowledge led Ms. Dince and Mr. St. Phard to a food scientist in New Jersey. There, they worked to invent a healthy sports beverage, one they would feel good serving to Olivia and Sam, Ms. Dince's 11- and 13-year-old children. The result is LIV, a carbohydrate-based drink like Gatorade and PowerAde, made with rice-syrup and agave nectar for the sweetener.

Rice syrup is a source of carbohydrates that comes from whole-grain rice. It is a healthy carbohydrate that has no cholesterol, and helps the body in its recovery process after a workout.

Agave nectar is 90 percent fructose. Unlike other sweeteners, this form of fructose from agave syrup is in its natural form and not a crystalline and processed form, which is worse for the body. It is 25 percent sweeter than sugar, so less is needed in the product, which eliminates extra calories.

After holding dozens of taste tests with family, her children's friends, the Princeton Running Team, and at local gyms, Ms. Dince and Mr. St. Phard found winning combinations in the flavors of Berry, Lemon-Lime, and Orange.

Along with being sold to stores, which is already being done successfully in Pennsylvania and New Jersey as well as on the Vineyard, LIV will be sold to schools. "One thing that makes me really happy is when we send our product to school cafeteria people they really like the drink," says Ms. Dince. The partners have received verbal confirmation with three large food service providers, and hope to sell in schools soon.

If this beverage is sounding familiar, it may be because it was the sponsor for this year's Chilmark Road Race. "We're so lucky that we had the opportunity to sponsor the Chilmark Road Race," says Ms. Dince. "We gave 1,800 bottles away. I think people realized that that was our advertising strategy, and it was a lot of awareness building for the new product."

Bringing her product home to Chilmark touched Ms. Dince in a nostalgic way. "There weren't many emotional moments, but when I went to help with the registration at the Chilmark road race, I saw that the number tags had our logo on it," said Nancy. "I hadn't expected it, and it was the first time I cried during the process."

Named after her daughter Olivia, LIV is being sold in more than 10 stores in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, and most recently Ms. Dince has generated interest from several stores on Manhattan's Upper East Side. LIV is also a sponsor of Team in Training (TNT), a New York-based athletic support system that helps train people who want to accomplish major athletic goals.

The new sports beverage LIV was sold during the late summer at the Chilmark Store, Menemsha Market, Alley's General Store, and Espresso Love, and is available now at the Natural Food Barn in Vineyard Haven. For more information, visit their web site at www.liv-natural.com.