Immunity and Wellness: Q & A with Dr. Alfredo Galvez

With the world focusing more than ever on wellness, many are wondering what we can do to support our immune systems and overall health. Director of Product Development Tina Van Horn recently spoke with Dr. Alfredo Galvez, Reliv’s Chief Scientific Officer and the discoverer of the lunasin peptide, to learn more about the science of immunity, what role nutrition plays and what you can do to take charge of your health. 

Tina: What are the effects of nutrition on immunity and what role does epigenetics play in the immune function?  

Dr. Galvez: Fortunately our bodies are very smart and have evolved over time to fight against infections through our innate and adaptive immunity. But, we also know there are specific foods and nutrients that have co-evolved with the human body to support a more efficient immune response to environmental threats like viruses. When you combine this knowledge with our current understanding of epigenetics, we can have an even greater impact on wellness as a whole, but the immune system is of particular interest in the field of nutritional epigenetics.

The role of epigenetics is the key science that has been proven to be one of the underlying causes of not only infections and inflammation, but also chronic disease formation. That is the reason why we need to have nutrients available for our bodies to use.

Research in the last decade has revealed the expression of genes associated with immunity response to epigenetic influences. A study that caught my attention ten to twelve years ago, from Purdue and Indiana Universities, demonstrated the ability of lunasin to turn on the genes associated with the immune response, both for innate immunity, our first line of defense against infection, as well as adaptive immunity, which is the ability for the body to produce antibodies that prevent future infections. This is important research in light of novel viruses and infections. Epigenetics provides new research opportunities to find and develop more effective treatments and vaccines, which is important to me from a research perspective. But, there is also a practical application for individuals because with the right nutrients, we can strengthen our immune systems to counter pathogens AND to respond efficiently when vaccines are introduced by teaching our bodies to produce antibodies that can attack novel viruses.

Tina: With the growing body of research surrounding epigenetics and lunasin, in particular, we have gained a solid understanding of the cellular health benefits of lunasin for our long-term health, but it is interesting to hear you talk about how lunasin benefits our short-term immunity in fighting off those viruses and pathogens that are environmentally attacking us in addition to the long-term health benefits. What about other dietary ingredients and nutrients? Do we need them along with lunasin to support immunity?

Dr. Galvez: Scientific evidence supports that metabolism and nutrient absorption are unique to each individual, so it is very important to have a combination of multiple nutrients at optimal levels to support all of our physiological processes, especially metabolism which is directly linked to immunity.

When I started working with Dr. Carl Hastings on adding lunasin to the core nutrition, one of the main objectives was to improve metabolic health. In fact, we did some experiments on the combination of lunasin and Reliv Now® with Soy. The results showed an improvement in metabolic biomarkers and risk factors associated with a number of health conditions. We understand now, more clearly than ever before, how metabolic health directly affects the immune system. So the nutritional composition of the core nutrition (macronutrients and micronutrients) in combination with lunasin, optimizes genetic expression for good health today and improves our long-term health.

Tina: You already stated that what makes Reliv products so unique is that we don’t focus on single ingredients for a specific health benefit. Yet so many people when we talk about immunity they instantly think of taking mega doses of vitamin C or zinc.  But those mega doses are not nearly as effective as putting these ingredients together in synergistic formulas. How can we combat that misunderstanding?

Dr. Galvez: The body of research on nutrition and epigenetics is expanding exponentially. At Reliv, we are not only looking at lunasin, but also we are also looking at lunasin in combination with the other ingredients we have in core nutrition and even some of the targeted solutions like FibRestore®, CardioSentials® and GlucAffect®. These formulas contain ingredients also known to have an effect on the epigenome. As I see now with so much new research on bioactive agents and dietary nutrients, we are gaining a greater understanding of how the nutrients work together metabolically not only to support physiological functions, but also epigenetically to have a real impact on health. For example, when dietary fibers are digested in the gut, chemicals are released that send signals to the epigenome.

I am hopeful that the next generation of scientists, researchers, and medical professionals will expand on what we know so far and apply this understanding to develop nutritional solutions that can have a real impact on many of the chronic health conditions that are so prevalent today. So many of our current therapies only treat the symptoms, but with epigenetics, we can more effectively target the underlying causes of these conditions. I believe the best way we can find effective treatments is to understand the epigenome and the effect of natural bioactive agents working together to turn off the bad genes that promote disease and turn on the genes that support wellness. 

There are many things that still need to be understood. There is also a learning curve for the medical establishment and consumers as far as epigenetics is concerned. With the foundational work that I have done on nutritional epigenetics, along with other researchers in the space, we are certainly moving in that direction. I anticipate that as the trend continues for patients and consumers to be more proactive with their health, the demand for effective nutritional solutions will keep driving researchers to find effective solutions.

Tina: You have a very unique perspective as a researcher on the current situation. What are some of the challenges that researches are facing that are inhibiting their efforts to finding effective therapies or developing a vaccine for COVID-19?

Dr. Galvez: That is a very good question. Actually, that was a question posed to me when I was taking my Ph.D. oral examination because it was during the height of the HIV infection. Like HIV, this new coronavirus is an RNA virus and it is more difficult to find a cure or even a vaccine because RNA viruses only have a single strand of genetic material (versus DNA viruses which have two strands). This means that it can mutate more easily than other types of viruses. In fact, that is one of the reasons why we have to reduce the infection rates, so we can reduce the chance of mutations.

It is going to be very difficult to develop vaccines. There are a lot of stages of testing that must be done. It will take anywhere from a year or a year and a half. Of course, you also have to take into consideration the mutation rate of this virus. It’s a serious problem, but it’s not something that we haven’t seen before.

I think individually we can each do things to help control this, so all the suggestions that the CDC and epidemiologists have been giving us we should accept it and practice it. This is the only way we can fight against this virus. In the meantime, it becomes vitally important to do what you can personally to keep supporting your immune system with nutrition and lifestyle choices.

Tina: What are a few recommendations that you have for our readers and what are you personally doing to protect yourself and your family?

Dr. Galvez: My family is certainly taking Reliv nutrition and focusing on the basic principles of health and wellness – plenty of vegetables and fruits along with quality protein, emphasizing plant-based protein sources. We exercise at least 30 minutes each day. There are a lot of studies done on exercise and epigenetic changes. In fact, exercising can reduce the epigenetic age to optimize your epigenome and support immunity. Getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep at night can also have an effect on delaying epigenetic aging. There is not a short-term fix that is going to protect everyone. You have to be vigilant and proactive so when you get challenged by these environmental stresses and viral infections your immune system and your body is strong enough to fight it.

 

How Reliv Is Making Advanced Nutrition Simple

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8.15 AdvancedNutrition

Nutrition is complex, but Reliv makes it easy to get the advanced nutrition you need. There are no complicated steps or cleanses required here because Reliv products deliver a complete, balanced and optimal blend of the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins and phytonutrients your body needs to thrive. Continue reading “How Reliv Is Making Advanced Nutrition Simple”

The Reliv Difference

SubscribeButton-webRelivDifference Walk through the vitamin aisle at any supermarket and you will find dozens of choices. From individual vitamin pills to multivitamins, the world of supplements can be complicated. With so many different choices available, how can you separate optimal nutrition from everything else?
It’s easy. Choose Reliv. Continue reading “The Reliv Difference”

Reiv Earns ‘Top Honors’ With High Schooler

 

clip_image001 Rich Nolin and his wife, Tina, of Hudson, Massachusetts, were thrilled with their Relìv results. Rich experienced relief for acid reflux and Tina had positive results with SoySentials® dietary supplement for women. But the story they enjoy telling most has a different main character: their son, Zackery.

As a freshman in high school, Zack had been having problems in school since the fourth grade. Study was difficult — focus was never easy.

“Zack agreed to take Relìv for the summer and had great results!” Rich says. “By the end of the summer, we noticed he was able to stay focused and ‘on task’ much better. We didn’t have to stand over him and coach him on the next step in his chores. What a relief to have him behaving autonomously!”

When Zack went back to school in September, one teacher commented, “He’s a brand new kid! Whatever you’re doing, keep it up!” The entire family was sold.

“When report cards came out, Zack had brought his grades up a full letter grade across the board!” Rich says. “Relìv has earned its place in our home.”

Reliv Earns ‘Top Honors’ With High Schooler

clip_image001 Rich Nolin and his wife, Tina, of Hudson, Massachusetts, were thrilled with their Relìv results. Rich experienced relief for acid reflux and Tina had positive results with SoySentials® dietary supplement for women. But the story they enjoy telling most has a different main character: their son, Zackery.

As a freshman in high school, Zack had been having problems in school since the fourth grade. Study was difficult — focus was never easy.

“Zack agreed to take Relìv for the summer and had great results!” Rich says. “By the end of the summer, we noticed he was able to stay focused and ‘on task’ much better. We didn’t have to stand over him and coach him on the next step in his chores. What a relief to have him behaving autonomously!”

When Zack went back to school in September, one teacher commented, “He’s a brand new kid! Whatever you’re doing, keep it up!” The entire family was sold.

“When report cards came out, Zack had brought his grades up a full letter grade across the board!” Rich says. “Relìv has earned its place in our home.”

 

Reliv: Quality, Integrity Come First

Reliv products boast some of the most stringent quality guidelines in the industry. Ingredient suppliers are carefully screened and every ingredient is tested and retested for quality and purity.

  • When ingredients arrive at Reliv, they are quarantined first. Every shipment must be accompanied by a Certificate of Analysis from a third-party lab proving the ingredient possesses the level of activity, purity, and quality required.
  • Reliv then performs its own independent testing before we release the ingredient for use in our formulas.
  • Our formulas are then rechecked at each step of the manufacturing process to ensure accuracy, quality, and purity.
  • Reliv far exceeds the required practices of most food plants. In fact, we meet near-pharmaceutical conditions, supported by our Australian Therapeutic Goods (TGA) and Canadian Natural Health Products (NHP) approvals, which are more stringent than FDA requirements.
  • Finished products are quarantined again while additional tests are run to confirm our label information is accurate and that the product meets purity and quality standards. Every test must be passed before the product is shipped.

Get the Facts on Soy

For centuries, soy has been a healthy diet staple, particularly in Southeast Asia. Numerous research studies from the most prestigious universities around the world document soy’s ability to help lower cholesterol, promote healthy heart functioning, and reduce the risk of certain cancers.

So with all the research showing soy’s benefits, why are some people questioning soy’s safety? It usually comes down to study information taken out of context and a proliferation of Internet myths. It’s time to get the real facts about soy.

Soy and Breast Cancer

Studies show Asian women have lower rates of breast cancer than Western women because of Asian women’s lifelong, soy-rich diets. Researchers have found that eating at least one serving of soy a day is associated with a 29 percent reduction in the risk of developing breast cancer.

In addition, no studies demonstrate a link between eating soy and breast cancer recurrence or tumor growth in humans. Even the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society say that breast cancer survivors can safely consume moderate amounts of whole soy foods. However, if you have or have had breast cancer, always talk to your doctor about matters concerning nutrition.

Soy and Thyroid Function

Soy foods have no effect on thyroid function in healthy well-nourished people who are not deficient in iodine. People who have hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) but are being treated for it with medication may safely consume soy, also. However, some vitamins, minerals, and foods, including soy and other high-fiber foods, may interfere with the absorption of the medication used to treat hypothyroidism. That’s why physicians often suggest taking thyroid medication between meals so that the chemical components in food don’t interfere with the actions of the medicine.

Studies Aren’t Always Apples to Apples

When you hear controversy about soy, it’s important to understand exactly what studies are being cited, how the studies were set up, what type of soy was actually tested, and what the amounts used were, explained Dr. Carl W. Hastings, Reliv Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer.

“Many studies cited by soy critics often use isolated components of soy containing very high concentrations of specific isoflavones that far exceed what a person would normally eat with soy,” Dr. Carl said. “These studies are not always comparing apples to apples.”

In addition, researchers say it’s difficult to apply findings from animal studies using excessive doses of isoflavones to humans because mice and rats produce lower levels of estrogen hormone than women do and they digest isoflavones differently.

Soy is one of the most thoroughly studied nutritional ingredients in the world. And the overwhelming mountain of evidence points to soy’s effectiveness in promoting overall health. In fact, the FDA has maintained approval of a health claim about soy’s benefits for heart health since 1999 — a clear indication of where the scientific community stands.

All for You: a Letter From Dr. Carl Hastings

After nearly 40 years in the food industry, I can honestly say that Reliv is my dream come true. For the past two decades, I’ve had the freedom and the support to “do things right.” While other companies focus on the current nutritional fads and cut corners to boost profits, that has never been Reliv’s way.

From the very beginning, Reliv’s number one priority has been to create products that truly change people’s lives using only the highest quality ingredients from the most reputable suppliers available. And I’m proud to say we’ve never faltered from that course.

Every ingredient and every formula is carefully and thoroughly researched before it makes its way to you. We know that the results of a single study don’t make or break an ingredient. It takes numerous, well-designed studies over a significant period of time to convince us that an ingredient belongs in our products.

Your health and safety are our top concern. That’s why Reliv refused to add ephedra to our products, even though everyone was touting it as the latest miracle ingredient — and why we continue to stand behind the health-promoting value of soy. My family and I consume the same products you do. And if I don’t think something is safe for us, I definitely won’t offer it to you.

Reliv fully guarantees every product we sell. And I stake my reputation on every can that goes out the door. You won’t find safer, more effective nutritional products anywhere. You have my word on that.

To Your Health,

Dr. Carl W. Hastings, Reliv Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer

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