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.

 

Science & Health Today: Blood Sugar Management

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Seven Years of Blood Sugar Management with GlucAffect

This November marks the 7th anniversary of Reliv’s GlucAffect® nutritional supplement launch. GlucAffect was developed to support healthy blood sugar levels and weight loss, indicators of metabolic syndrome which can lead to chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Research supports the effectiveness of the GlucAffect formulation.

GlucAffect was studied in an 8-week clinical trial that included 50 overweight participants with moderately elevated fasting blood glucose. Subjects were randomly assigned to either four daily servings of GlucAffect or a placebo meal replacement, and all participants took part in a diet and exercise program. Those who took GlucAffect lowered their fasting glucose by an average of 30%, moving them to healthy blood glucose levels. They also lost an average of 16 pounds. The control group taking the placebo did not experience significant reduction in their blood glucose levels or weight.

The patented GlucAffect formula includes several potent extracts, such as Pycnogenol®, LunaRich® and banaba leaf, which continue to be studied for their health benefits, especially in regards to the risk factors of metabolic syndrome.

Pycnogenola powerful antioxidant that has been shown to lower blood glucose levels, LDL and blood pressure.

A 2015 review in Phytotherapy Research reported that Pycnogenol’s “strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, endothelium-dependent vasodilator activity, and also its anti-thrombotic effects make it appropriate for targeting the multifaceted pathophysiology of metabolic syndrome. Clinical studies have shown that it can reduce blood glucose levels in people with diabetes, blood pressure in mild to moderate hypertensive patients and waist circumference; and improve lipid profile, renal and endothelial functions in metabolic syndrome.”  Continue reading “Science & Health Today: Blood Sugar Management”

Chronic Inflammation: Put Out the Fire

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

Register now for Tina’s next live webinar “Keeping Kids Healthy in a Fast Food World” this Wednesday, October 21, at noon Central.

ACUTE INFLAMMATION: THE QUICK FIX

Acute inflammation is your body’s reaction to something foreign, such as viruses, bacteria, allergens and trauma. When the foreign invader is no longer a threat, the inflammatory response should return to its healthy state: ready but not active.

Acute inflammation is an important immune response that protects you from infection and repairs tissues following injury. In most cases it is short-lived because the stimulus that triggered its activation is no longer present. The immune system has done its job of destroying the pathogens and healing the damaged tissues.

CHRONIC INFLAMMATION: THE SLOW BURN

But what happens when the inflammatory stimulus doesn’t go away? Many of the environmental signals that trigger inflammation are less obvious, continuous threats that keep the immune system functioning at a low level for a long period of time. This leads to chronic inflammation — a lowgrade, systemic condition often without any immediate symptoms. Over time, chronic inflammation slowly destroys tissues, leading to cumulative and serious damage. Continue reading “Chronic Inflammation: Put Out the Fire”

Reliv Webinar: Extinguishing Inflammation

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Reliv, LunaRich, Nutritional epigenetics, Tina Van Horn

In case you missed the live presentation, a recording of yesterday’s Reliv health webinar “Extinguishing Inflammation” with host Tina Van Horn is now available online. Click here to view.

Inflammation is a complex physical reaction without a simple solution. Left to smolder within your body, chronic inflammation can spiral out of control, contributing to many of the most common health problems.

Daily nutrition and lifestyle choices can either contribute to or disrupt your body’s inflammatory response. Learn what you need to do today, tomorrow and EVERY DAY to disrupt chronic inflammation and how Reliv nutrition can help you get there.

After you view the webinar, check out these related resources:

Reliv Webinar Recording: Epigenetics & Family Health

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Did you miss the live webinar today? Well here’s your chance to view it and share it with people you know: click here to view the recording.

In this webinar, Host Tina Van Horn, Director of Research and Business Development at SL Technology, Inc., a Reliv Company, walks you through what you can do to promote optimal health for everyone in your home. Lifetime wellness begins with healthy habits early in life. Learn how you can use the power of Reliv nutrition and epigenetics to turn on your family’s good genes!

 

Reliv Science & Health Today: Soy Good for You!

Soy, Reliv LunaRich, lunasin, Carl Hastings
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Soy has been cultivated and eaten for millennia in China; and since the 1760s in the U.S. More recently, advances in research and manufacturing have created many new ways to enjoy the little round bean. Still, many remain unaware of the numerous health benefits of this remarkable superfood. Continue reading “Reliv Science & Health Today: Soy Good for You!”

Obesity & Epigenetics: Put on Your Skinny Genes!

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by Tamara Shenouda, project manager at SL Technology, Inc., a Reliv company

Epigenetic Factors You Can’t Control

Before we’re born, our parents’ choices, their health conditions and the environmental toxins they are exposed to can affect how our genes are expressed, especially during the vulnerable early development period. This includes genes related to adipogenesis, or the process of creating fat cells. The mechanism for adipogenesis is first set during the fetal and neonatal stages of life. Changes in the expression of these genes can affect the size of fat cells and how they are distributed in the body. Continue reading “Obesity & Epigenetics: Put on Your Skinny Genes!”

From Food to Nutrition: A Century of Challenges, Priorities & Progress

 

By popular demand, a recording of this month’s nutrition webinar, “From Food to Nutrition:  A Century of Challenges, Priorities & Progress,” is now available for viewing. Learn how changes in the last century in food production and processing, as well as consumer behaviors, have produced unintended health problems — and what you can do to reverse the trend. Hosted by Tina Van Horn, Director of Research and Business Development at SL Technology, Inc., a Reliv Company.

Click here to view video on YouTube.

Be sure to stay tuned for news on our next webinar and join us live.

Lunasin: Epigenetic Revolution in Health & Nutrition

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On October 22, the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois hosted a special informational presentation featuring Dr. Alfredo Galvez, chief scientific advisor at SL Technology, a Reliv company. During his visit Dr. Galvez had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Elvira de Mejia, UI Professor and leading food science researcher. The video above features highlights from their discussion. Continue reading “Lunasin: Epigenetic Revolution in Health & Nutrition”

Science & Health Today: Blood Sugar Management

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November is American Diabetes Month. The CDC’s National Diabetes Statistics Report estimates that 9.3% of the U.S. population 20 years or older, or 29.1 million people, have diabetes. Those under 20 years old with diabetes number about 208,000. For all of these individuals, monitoring blood glucose is an important daily concern — and should be a priority for all of us. Continue reading “Science & Health Today: Blood Sugar Management”