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.

 

Reliv August 2016 Prodcast: An Interview with Lunasin Discoverer Dr. Alfredo Galvez

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In this exclusive interview from Reliv’s 2016 International Conference, Product Marketing Specialist Tina Van Horn sits down with Dr. Alfredo Galvez who is a Reliv scientist and the discoverer of the lunasin peptide. Dr. Galvez explains how the field of epigenetics is exploding and what you can do today to take charge of your health with Reliv products.

Listen to the Prodcast online.

 

Reliv Celebrates Soy Foods Month

April is Soy Foods Month, and Reliv knows it’s a food worth celebrating! The buzz about the health benefits of supplementing with soy continues to build every year as new research is published about this super food. The benefits of soy are known: reduction of cholesterol, relief of menopause symptoms, protection against health problems that stem from inflammation and more. And with the introduction of Reliv’s patented LunaRich® that optimizes bioactive lunasin more than any other source today, harnessing the power of soy has never been easier! Use the posts below as your resource for information on the benefits of soy and Reliv’s mission to nourish our world with the power of epigenetics and lunasin, the epigenetic superfood!

Soy and Your Health

The Science of LunaRich: a Q&A with Dr. Alfredo Galvez

The Soy Solution for Better Womens Health

LunaRich and the Evolution of Nutrition

LunaRich and the Evolution of Nutrition

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by Tina Van Horn, Director of Research and Business Development at SL Technology, Inc., a Reliv Company

Our Food Is Leaving Us Empty
Food is not what it used to be. Several studies have shown a significant reduction in the micronutrient content of many fruits and vegetables over the course of the 20th century. The average vegetable found in today’s supermarket is anywhere from 5% to 40% lower in selected minerals than those harvested 50 years ago.

Continue reading “LunaRich and the Evolution of Nutrition”

Epigenetics 101: Back to Basics

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The scientific buzz surrounding nutritional epigenetics is ramping up, but not everyone can be a research scientist. For people seeking simple ways to understand and explain this exciting field of study, the Reliv blog offers many articles to read and share. Use the posts below as your one-stop shop for information on epigenetics and lunasin, the epigenetic superfood.

Lunasin: Epigenetic Revolution in Health & Nurition

Q&A with Dr. Carl Hastings and Dr. Alfredo Galvez

Your Epigenetic Life

Q&A with Dr. Alfredo Galvez

Nutrition for the 21st Century

Infographic: Lunasin and Epigenetics

You Are What You Eat: Nutritional Epigenetics

Beyond the Genome: How Lunasin Works to Promote Optimal Health

Reliv’s ‘Dynamic Duo’ Rocks Geneva Convention

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S&HTVitaFoods-webThe Reliv Now® and LunaRich X™ study stole the show last month at the Vitafoods Europe Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. Dr. Alfredo Galvez’s presentation on the results from the University of Missouri study, which shows that the combination of these two products supports weight loss, heart health, and metabolic wellness, was perhaps the most popular presentation of the entire symposium. Continue reading “Reliv’s ‘Dynamic Duo’ Rocks Geneva Convention”

The Perfect Opportunity

perfectopportunity-webby Ryan Schmidt
President & CEO of SL Technology, Inc., a Reliv company

As an entrepreneur, I understand the need to innovate. My 20+ years in the nutrition industry have taught me that market leaders must innovate or be consumed by the global marketplace. I’ve also learned that innovation is not the result of chance; it is the result of action.

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Creating an Innovation Engine
In 2001 I partnered with Dr. Alfredo Galvez to expand his work with the lunasin peptide he discovered in 1996. In 2005 I founded Soy Labs, LLC and assembled a team which included Dr. Galvez to focus on commercializing lunasin-based ingredients. Collaboration is key to long-term business success, so I sought out business and research partners that allowed Soy Labs to leverage creativity, experience and resources and innovate more quickly.

Adopting the open innovation model allowed Soy Labs to draw on the knowledge of outside researchers and move forward with lunasin technology. This access to external resources inspired us to partner with the University of Missouri, the state of Missouri and federal government to create the Missouri Plant Science Center in 2010. The MPSC was a critical component to further our research, refine our processes and firmly establish Soy Labs as an “innovation engine.” Continue reading “The Perfect Opportunity”

Understanding Epigenetics

The field of epigenetics is new and growing, but you don’t have to be a scientist to understand the basics. Here are some simple analogies to explain how epigenetics works on the cellular level.

Pencil

Who you are is written in both pen and pencil. Things written in pen you can’t change. That’s DNA. But things written in pencil you can. That’s epigenetics.

Lightbulb

The epigenome acts like a dimmer for lights, controlling which genes are used, when they are used and how much they are used.

Computer
Your genome is like computer hardware, the actual components that perform specific functions. Your epigenome is like software, the programs that tell the hardware which functions to perform.

“No other company is advancing the field of epigenetics like Reliv. We are in the middle of a revolution in nutrition and we are all witnesses.”
– Dr. Alfredo Galvez, the Center of Excellence in Nutrition Genomics at UC Davis

Reliv 25 Agenda Available

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The Reliv 25 International Conference agenda is finalized and ready to view! Three unforgettable days jam-packed with the excitement, recognition, information and fun you’ve come to expect at a Reliv conference — plus special announcements and surprises we’ve saved especially for our 25th Anniversary celebration. Get ready for a Reliv party a quarter-century in the making! Continue reading “Reliv 25 Agenda Available”

The Truth About Soy

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Exciting new discoveries are revealing soy’s mounting health benefits, and much of the excitement centers around lunasin, a naturally occurring soy peptide. Soy’s cholesterol-lowering properties, which are supported by an FDA health claim, can now be attributed to lunasin. Continue reading “The Truth About Soy”