The following is an excerpt from the Fall 2010 issue of Lifestyle Magazine. Click here to read the entire insert!
Since the introduction of our first product, Reliv Classic®, in 1988, Reliv has remained steadfastly committed to staying on the cutting edge of nutrition science. As our unparalleled line of nutritional supplements has grown and evolved, our product development team has endeavored daily to ensure that Reliv produces the most complete and effective nutritional supplements available today.
Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Carl Hastings takes us through Reliv’s product development process, using GlucAffect® — launched in 2008 — as an example.
1. Identify Need
It’s no secret that our sedentary lifestyle and modern diets have left us at risk like never before. The most common risk factors have been grouped into the term “metabolic syndrome” and include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body weight and abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. At Reliv we felt compelled to develop nutritional approaches to help address these issues.
In 2005 we introduced CardioSentials®, clinically shown to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and support total heart health. Two years later we launched Slimplicity®, a comprehensive lifestyle plan for shedding excess weight. And in 2008 we unveiled GlucAffect®, an unprecedented nutritional approach to blood sugar management.
2. Research Ingredients
As high blood sugar became an increasing problem in the medical community, the nutritional field began to identify ingredients that helped address it. At Reliv we worked with suppliers, colleagues, our Scientific Advisory Board and researchers on staff to create a list of potential ingredients based on solid scientific evidence. Our initial list was fairly extensive, but through continued research we started to piece together potential formulations.
3. Create Formula
We then sourced small quantities of ingredients using the same quality control practices we use for all of our products. Each ingredient required a Certificate of Analysis from an independent lab and we conducted our own testing upon arrival. It was a way to not only test the ingredients, but to test any new suppliers as well.
We began the process of assembling the formula in the lab. Most ingredients came with suggested dose amounts based on clinical research, so we tried to work at these levels. The goal was to find the right synergistic blend so that nutrients would work together for maximum benefit. We created several different mixes and tested for things such as flavor, color and solubility and then worked toward a blend that would be both palatable and affordable without sacrificing effectiveness.
Once we identified the formula, we scaled it up by ordering larger amounts of all ingredients and making sure it would work in production.
4. Test Formula
With GlucAffect we were fortunate to partner with Horphag Research to arrange an eight-week clinical trial of the product. The results were even better than we expected. We knew we had created a product unlike anything else on the market.
5. Launch Product
I’ll never forget the excitement in that room in Chicago when we introduced GlucAffect. Even better were the stories of healthy blood sugar levels and weight loss that we started hearing just weeks after the launch. And those stories continue to pour in! I am very proud of what we accomplished in creating GlucAffect and look forward to hearing even more stories about the lives it will improve in the years to come.
Clinical Trial Confirms: GlucAffect Works
In an eight-week clinical study, 50 overweight subjects with moderately elevated fasting blood glucose — criteria for metabolic syndrome — were randomly assigned to either receive four daily servings of GlucAffect or an inactive control product with identical taste, color and texture.
Test subjects taking GlucAffect lowered their blood fasting glucose by an average of 30%, moving from pre-diabetic glucose levels to healthy blood sugar values. The lowered blood glucose was confirmed by the average HbA1c (glycosylated hemoglobin) level, which also moved into the healthy range. No significant glucose lowering was found in the control group.
In addition, those individuals taking GlucAffect lost an average of nearly 16 pounds during the eight-week period, slimming to an extent on average that they achieved their optimal BMI (body mass index). No significant effect on body weight was found in the control group.
Q and A: Dr. Frank Schonlau
Frank Schonlau Ph.D. is a biochemist who has spent nine years in medical research at the University Clinic of Munster, Germany. His area of expertise covers vascular disorders, inflammation and dermatology. He has published more than 35 studies and review articles in the medical literature. Since entering the dietary field in 1999 he was involved in numerous studies on Pycnogenol® and the communication of new health discoveries.
Q: What is Pycnogenol®?
A: Pycnogenol is an extract derived from the bark of the maritime pine tree that grows only in southwestern France. It was initially introduced in Europe in the 1970s as an over-the-counter product. Since then, it has become one of the most rigorously studied ingredients in nutrition science. Ninety eight clinical studies have validated the health benefits of Pycnogenol.
Q: What are Pycnogenol’s demonstrated health benefits?
A: From the beginning, Pycnogenol was understood to improve vascular function, increase blood flow and lower blood pressure. It was later discovered to be a potent antioxidant, neutralizing free radicals much more effectively than popular supplements such as vitamin E. Additional studies revealed its anti-inflammatory properties, with people experiencing positive results with joint problems, asthma and many further health issues. More recently, as we began investigating Pycnogenol consumption in overweight people, we discovered that it also has an effect on normalizing blood sugar levels.
Q: How does Pycnogenol work in combination with the other ingredients found in GlucAffect®?
A: The combination of active components in GlucAffect all point to the ability to naturally reduce the blood sugar levels after a dietary intake of carbohydrates. Usually when we eat carbohydrate-rich meals — pasta, bread, rice, etc. — digestive fluids need to break down those starchy molecules into glucose, which then reach the bloodstream. GlucAffect actually works on digestive enzymes to slow down the digestion of starchy foods. As a result, you naturally lower the blood glucose peak after a meal, which could otherwise lead to weight gain and unhealthy blood sugar levels.
Q: Why do you think the results of the GlucAffect clinical trial are so significant?
A: What the GlucAffect clinical trial showed so impressively is that people could manage their blood sugar levels and lose weight without using a stimulant or something harmful to the body. This was a placebo-controlled, evidence-based clinical trial published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. It is something Reliv should be very proud of.
Q: How do you view GlucAffect’s potential for helping people with metabolic syndrome?
A: When we began the clinical study, we expected to see a lowering of blood sugar levels because of the active ingredients in GlucAffect and because we had selected participants with slightly elevated blood sugar levels. What we didn’t expect to see was such significant weight loss over the eight-week period — an average of nearly 16 pounds! So that means we have statistically significant data demonstrating the product’s effectiveness in addressing two of the criteria for metabolic syndrome. In addition, we know from other studies that many of the ingredients in GlucAffect —such as Pycnogenol, omega 3 fatty acids and others — have also demonstrated positive benefits with blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol. So for people who want to tackle all metabolic issues, they would be well served consuming GlucAffect every day as part of a long-term healthy lifestyle plan.
Q: After working so closely with them, what is your opinion of Reliv’s product development team?
A: I have utmost respect for Dr. Carl Hastings and his team. Using GlucAffect as an example, the formula they created is a true breakthrough in nutrition science. I am not aware of any other product like it in the industry. You need look no further than the clinical trial to understand just how much they accomplished. I continue to work with Reliv today and look forward to doing so for many years to come.
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