Statins – friend or foe?

Have you or a family member been prescribed a statin? Highly likely if you’re into middle age – over 6 million people in the UK are on the drug, and Pfizer’s Lipitor is the most profitable drug in the history of medicine. Originally, statins were only prescribed to people considered to be at high risk of having a heart attack. They are now increasingly prescribed to people over the age of 50 even if they have normal cholesterol levels. In 2014, NICE (the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) revised their guidelines on when to initiate statin treatment, bringing the threshold down from a 20% risk of cardiovascular disease to 10%, making an estimated additional 4.5 million people “eligible” for statins. As you read on, you may see why many people (including doctors and researchers) are questioning the benefits of joining that club.

Statins are also offered increasingly to children. A few years ago, Pfizer clinched a deal with the EU to extend their patent in exchange for expanding their testing to include kids. They produced a grape-flavoured, chewable version that is available to children with a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol and heart disease (familial hypercholesterolemia). Some commentators are concerned that this will lead to similar marketing tactics in pediatric medicine that have been used by Pfizer in the adult market.

MacStatins and fries?

It was proposed a few years ago in the US that statins be added to the water supply – an idea thankfully rejected by the FDA. And some bright sparks, a group of cardiologists at Imperial College London, have even suggested in the American Journal of Cardiology that statins could be handed out in fast-food joints to counteract the effects of a “QuarterPounder with Cheese with a shake”.

Plenty has been written about why statins (and their cholesterol-lowering effects) are barking up the wrong tree when it comes to heart disease, and why cholesterol is an absolute necessity for health. In fact, LDL cholesterol levels have been shown to have an inverse relationship with death from any cause, so, the lower your LDL cholesterol, the more likely you may be to die from anything! I won’t go into this in detail in this article (you can watch a talk on the Nurtural YouTube channel about it here) – suffice it to say that at the root of cardiovascular disease is inflammation, causing arterial damage. In a nutshell, the body, in its innate wisdom, sends cholesterol to patch up this damage. This is like the emergency services being sent to the scene of a fire.

Fire Truck Pull-Back Toys | Oriental Trading

So, consider this scenario: fire engines seem to be appearing at every fire. A futuristic tech company notes this correlation and decides that fire engines cause fires, and so they come up with a brilliant machine to shrink them to Dinky toy size. The fire engines are rendered ineffective, but meanwhile, the fires are left to rage.

Anything or anyone that gets in the way of the shrink blasters also gets shrunk, like the water hydrants, and the local odd-job man, and the Tesco van that has come to deliver the groceries.

There’s only so far you can go with any analogy before it breaks down, so let’s return briefly to the real-life equivalent of the fire engines – the cholesterol – before returning to statins, the main shrink-blaster subject of this article, and the collateral damage when statins are put to work.

What happens with the cholesterol when it rushes to the scene? Well, it meets with those infamous free radicals from all the toxic abuse we subject our bodies to, and it becomes oxidised. This oxidised cholesterol is now a substance that the body doesn’t recognise, so the immune system sends its troops (the macrophages) to deal with the perceived foreign invader. In doing so, the macrophages turn into pathologic foam cells which adhere to the artery walls and attract calcium, which then further blocks up the arteries.

Hold that thought while we take a look at the political backdrop for a moment:

The statin war zone

The statins market is a hotbed of controversy and vicious rivalry, with drug companies slandering, suing and countersuing each other. In 2008, AstraZeneca accused Pfizer and its representatives of “serious misconduct” in claiming that AstraZeneca’s rival statin, Crestor, was damaging to the kidneys. Pfizer was fined $200,000. Loose change for a company that reached the $ trillion mark this year in 2020 from statin sales alone. An eye for an eye, though: AstraZeneca was fined $80,000 in a separate case between the two pharma giants, in which Pfizer claimed AstraZeneca had made misleading claims on a banner about Crestor.

Little wonder, then, against this high-stakes background, that balanced information on statins is hard to come by. Even among doctors, there is bitter division on whether statins are either worthless in preventing heart attacks, or a genuine, life-saving wonder drug. The literature is divided and confusing, too. And much of the data does not even make it into the studies. Trial data are buried in inaccessible archives, never to see the light of day, and people are weeded out from trials before they start if they experience side effects from taking the drugs (for more on this subject, watch this revealing talk by Dr Maryanne Demasi).

Much of the scientific literature claims that statins are the best thing since high-glycaemic bread. But a very clear waymarker dissects the statin-research timeline: in 2004, new regulations were introduced to prevent industry bias from influencing clinical trials. Perhaps not surprisingly, all trials published after 2004 showed that, although statins are extremely successful in lowering LDL cholesterol, they do not prevent heart disease. Sure, there have been plenty of meta-analyses since 2004 that conclude that statins do prevent heart disease… but these have included the biased data from before 2004. In contrast, a meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal in 2015 showed that, on average, statins extended lifespan (known as “end-point postponement”) for people who had previously suffered a heart attack by a meagre 5.2 days! This is the so-called high-risk group that are at risk of being abandoned by their doctors if they don’t comply. And for those with no history of heart issues, statins on average bought them an extra 3.1 days of life. And meanwhile, someone, somewhere is getting extremely rich… on the back of peddling something that they claim to be vital to health.

So, what’s going on?

Firstly, statins are acting as a sticking plaster. They are indeed lowering cholesterol, but this is covering up the real issues. Secondly, the very mechanisms that achieve this lowered cholesterol are also interfering with some biochemical processes that are crucial not only to cardiovascular health, but also to general wellbeing.

Statins do not magically mop up the cholesterol that we get from food. They interfere with a biochemical pathway that makes cholesterol (the mevalonate pathway – which, contrary to popular opinion, is not a secret passage to Hogwarts). Yes, our miraculous cells in the liver actually make cholesterol if our diet doesn’t contain enough, and then lay off a bit if there’s plenty coming in in the diet. Like every system in the body, a series of checks, balances and feedback loops (homeostasis) ensures that we get enough cholesterol to not only soothe damage from inflammation, but also run (and protect) the brain, convert sunlight to vitamin D, immobilise bacterial toxins, synthesize sex hormones, keep cell membranes intact and firm, insulate nerve fibres, and assist in bile production to break down dietary fats. Our poor, maligned cholesterol must be the most vilified hero on the planet!

And what happens when these functions can’t happen satisfactorily because there’s not enough cholesterol to go around? It would be logical to think that the brain might not work properly, for example. In fact, research has shown that there is an inverse correlation between cholesterol levels and brain function, so in other words, the lower your cholesterol, the more likely you are to develop Alzheimer’s, and equally, higher cholesterol levels have been shown to be protective in that regard. Incidentally, Alzheimer’s overtook heart disease as the leading cause of death in the UK back in 2015. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

So, statins interfere with the cholesterol pathway. But cholesterol isn’t the only casualty. That same pathway is also responsible for making coenzyme Q10. CoQ10 is everywhere, which is why it’s in a family of molecules known as ubiquinones. As well as being a masterful antioxidant, CoQ10 is one of the major nutrients that allow the mitochondria to churn out energy to fuel our nerves, brain cells and tissues. Muscles and organs have a high concentration of mitochondria, as they are the workers that need a supply of energy to perform their everyday miracles. But statins act high up in the mevalonate pathway, starving CoQ10 of its precursors. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that inhibiting CoQ10 production can affect muscle performance, as well as cause muscle pain – one of the most common side effects suffered by people on statins. Not only that, but one crucial muscle and organ that relies on a high concentration of mitochondria is the heart! The heart is one heck of a hungry organ when it comes to energy. So the very thing that statins are supposed to protect is being deprived of a major energy source, and depletion of CoQ10 has indeed been directly linked to heart failure.

The mevalonate pathway saga doesn’t end there. This amazing series of reactions is also responsible for making numerous other proteins that are important for cardiovascular health. One of these proteins converts vitamin K1 to K2, and K2 is currently one the most fascinating areas of nutrition research – with far-reaching implications. For an insight into what K2 does to keep you alive and kicking, check out the video below. If you don’t have an hour to spare just now, keep reading.

Vitamin K2 – the seKret nutrient that could save your life.
A talk by David Griffiths and Angela Henderson

In short, K2’s connection with the cardiovascular system is that it activates the protein (Matrix GLA protein, to be specific) that signals calcium to move out of the arteries, where it is otherwise liable to hang around and congregate in those inflamed areas. K2 is very difficult to get from the diet, and when we can’t convert K1 (a more abundant source, through leafy green vegetables) to K2 in the body, then calcification of the arteries is something we need to be concerned about, especially if we’re not dealing with the underlying inflammation that I mentioned earlier. The correlation between arterial calcification and heart disease is 100%, whereas only half the people who have heart attacks have “high” cholesterol. The other main function of K2 is to activate another protein called osteocalcin, which is necessary for shunting the calcium to where everyone assumes it will go – into the bones.

This super-highway that ends in cholesterol production also branches off before its final destination into making proteins that work with selenium to protect and manage a myriad of functions in the body. These “selenoproteins” include the enzyme class of master antioxidants, glutathione peroxidase, which is part of the body’s critical arsenal against oxidative damage and inflammation (are you seeing a pattern here?). Other selenoproteins are important for the thyroid to function properly, and one of the functions of the thyroid is to regulate cholesterol levels!

Other serious effects of statins have been discussed in the literature, such as increased risk for type 2 diabetes, although the exact mechanisms that cause this are not yet clear.

Statins may well save lives, but not in the generally touted way. They have been shown to suppress the immune system, which is important if you are a transplant patient, as you don’t want your immune system to go into overdrive to reject your new organ. But for most people, an average life extension of 100th of 1% of life expectancy may not swing it, given the significant implications for quality of life and health.

With thanks, as always to David Griffiths for his invaluable advice on the draft of this article.

References

Drugs.com. (2020). Simvastatin. https://www.drugs.com/ppa/simvastatin.html

Beltowski, J., Wojcicka, G. & Jamroz-Wisniewska, A. (2009). Adverse effects of statins – Mechanisms and consequences. Current Drug Safety. 4, 209-228.

Cauley, J. (2014). Estrogen and bone health in men and women. Steroids. 99(A), 11-15.

DiNicolantonio, J., Bhutani, J., McCarty, M.F., & O’Keefe, J.H. (2015). Coenzyme Q10 for the treatment of heart failure: a review of the literature. Open Heart. 2(1), 1-5.

Drake, I., Sonestedt, E., Ericson, U., Wallström, P. & Orho-Melander, M. (2018). A Western dietary pattern is prospectively associated with cardio-metabolic traits and incidence of the metabolic syndrome. British Journal of Nutrition. 119, 1168-1176.

Electronic Medicines Compendium. (2020). Simvastatin 10 mg film-coated tablets. https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/5999/smpc.

Gazzero, P., Proto, M.C., Gangemi, G., Malfitano, A.M., Ciaglia, E., Pisanti, S., Santoro, C.L., & Bifulco, M. (2012). Pharmacological actions of statins: A critical appraisal in the management of cancer. Pharmacological Reviews. 64(1), 103-146.

Khosla, S., Oursler, M.J. & Monroe, D. (2012). Estrogen and the skeleton. Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism. 23(11), 576-581.

Kim, C., Ko, H., & Ryu, W. (2008). Longitudinal follow-up study for changes in lipids and lipoproteins during the perimenopause. Atherosclerosis Supplements. 9(1), 97.

Li, Y., Chen, J.P., Duan, L. & Li, S. (2018). Effect of vitamin K2 on type 2 diabetes mellitus: A review. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. 136, 39-51.

Ma, S.C., Goh, E.L., Tay, T., Wiles, C.C., Boughton, O., Churchwell, J.H., Wu, Y., Karunaratne, A., Battacharya, R., Terrill, N., Cobb, J.P., Hansen, U. & Abel, R.L. (2020). Nanoscale mechanisms in age-related hip fractures. Scientific Reports. 10, 14208.

Maresz, K. (2015). Proper Calcium use: Vitamin K2 as a promoter of bone and cardiovascular health. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal. 14(1), 34-39.

National Center for Biotechnology Information (2020). PubChem Compound Summary for CID 54454, Simvastatin. Retrieved October 26, 2020 from https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Simvastatin.

Ohnaka K., Shimoda S., Nawata H., Shimokawa H., Kaibuchi K., Iwamoto Y., & Takayanagi R. (2001). Pitavastatin enhanced BMP-2 and osteocalcin expression by inhibition of Rho-associated kinase in human osteoblasts. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 287, 337–342.

Okuyama, H., Langsjoen, P.G., Hamazaki, T, Ogushi, Y., Hara, R., Kobayashi, T. & Uchino, H. (2015). Statins stimulate atherosclerosis and heart failure: pharmacological mechanisms. Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology. 8(2), 189-199.

Pate, A., Emsley, R. & van Staar, T. (2020). Impact of lowering the risk threshold for statin treatment on statin prescribing: a descriptive study in English primary care. British Journal of General Practice. 70 (700): e765-e771.

Ravnskov, U., Diamond DM, Hama R., Hamazaki, T., Hammarskjöld, B., Hznes, N., Kendrick, M., Langsjoen, P.H., Malhotra, A., Mascitelli, L., McCullz, K.S., Ogushi, Z., Okuzama, H., Rosch, P.J., Schersten, T., Sultan, S. / Sundberg, R. (2016). Lack of an association or an inverse association between low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol and mortality in the elderly: a systematic review. BMJ Open. 2016, 6:e010401.

Rayman, M.P. (2000). The importance of selenium to human health. The Lancet. 356(9225), 233-241.

Saini, R. (2011). Coenzyme Q10: The essential nutrient. Journal of Pharmacy & BioAllied Sciences. 3(3), 466-467.

Singh, B., Arora, S., Goswami, B. & Mallika, V. (2009). Metabolic syndrome: A review of emerging markers and management. Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews. 3(4), 240-254.

Ventura, M., Melo, M. & Carrilho, F. (2017). Selenium and thyroid disease: from pathophysiology to treatment. International Journal of Endocrinology. 2017, 1-9.

Weivoda, M.M., & Oursler, M.J. (2014). The roles of small GTPases in osteoclast biology. Orthopedic & Muscular System: Current Research. 3(3), 160.

Wu, J.S., Buettner, C., Smithline, H., Long, H. & Greenman, R.L. (2010). Evaluation of skeletal muscle during calf exercise by 31-phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy in patients on statin medications. Muscle & Nerve. 43(1), 76-81.

Maintaining a Rolls Royce with a 13-mm spanner

A recent study found that people with higher intakes (through diet and supplementation) of vitamins A, D and E have fewer respiratory complaints. This was picked up by multiple media outlets, and even the nutrition-skeptic UK government Health Secretary has now ordered a review into vitamin D after dismissing its benefits. But while the new official interest in essential micronutrients for health protection has to be welcomed, it is still exasperatingly myopic to those of us who like to look at the big, holistic picture.

I am not a fan of picking out a few nutrients. I think it’s a nonsense, as our cellular processes are MASSIVELY complex and depend on a multitude of essential nutrients as well as the plant chemicals we’ve evolved alongside.

If you single out three nutrients, it’s like trying to write a symphony with only three notes! Or, to quote my friend Alex Russo, it’s like having a Rolls Royce to maintain but you buy yourself a 13 mm spanner. Besides which, if you bought three pots of single nutrients you’d be paying more than if you bought a high-grade, scientifically balanced multinutrient complex that takes account of all the synergies between the nutrients.

The Synergies

Did you know that when you use an antioxidant vitamin to neutralise a free radical, it becomes unstable itself and needs another antioxidant to neutralise it. So, for example, you take some vitamin E…. but it needs coenzyme Q10 to neutralise it. Or you take vitamin D… but every function of vitamin D needs magnesium, and if you don’t have enough magnesium in your bloodstream, it will be drawn from the bones. Vitamin D also increases absorption of calcium in the gut and makes proteins that put calcium into bones and transport it out of arteries. But these proteins need to be activated by vitamin K2.

Vitamin A works synergistically with vitamin E as an antioxidant. It’s also involved in iodine uptake. And zinc is needed for transporting vitamin A. But if you have too much A, it can interfere with vitamin K2 production by the gut bacteria. And so it goes on. Every nutrient interacts with one or many other nutrients and enzymes. Working out optimum levels in relation to the other nutrients is not something that any old Jo(e) can do with a few tubs from a health food store. It takes PhD scientists whose job it is to read and keep up to date with the research and do clinical trials. It also helps when you’re in a team of scientists…there’s synergy at the macro level too 😆 So instead of homing in on a few antioxidants, my recommendation is that you take a high potency multinutrient complex like the CellSentials™, which is based on solid research from a massive and active R&D department with 85 scientists and 18 PhDs.

And take them every day at the optimum recommended dose, just like you eat food and drink water every day.

Treat or trick?

We’ve all seen (or at least heard about) those people back in March this year who were panic-filling their trolleys with fizzy drinks and “goodies” from the snack aisles to keep the kids happy. And tonight, on Hallowe’en, the double nightmare of sugary treats and throwaway plastics sends chills down the spine. These treats are well-intentioned. Of course no-one would dream of poisoning their children intentionally or setting them up for chronic disease. But unintentionally, this is what is happening every day all over the Western world and in developing countries.

In 2016, an NHS survey estimated that 16 percent of children aged 2 to 15 in the UK were obese, and a further 12 percent were overweight. Obesity carries a high risk of type 2 diabetes, and there are currently just under four million people in the UK with the disease. Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes, but that distinction no longer applies. Recent figures indicate that around 7000 children under 19 have the disease in the UK. We have a problem in this country that is brushed under the carpet to protect people’s rights and sensitivities. But in trying to protect them, we are also failing them. There is plenty of talk about the pressures on the National Health Service from obesity and related diseases. But on an individual level, what kind of help are people really getting, and is it working?

The root of problem unfortunately lies in the “help”. The NHS is creaking under the weight of the “obesity epidemic”, and all the bariatric surgery and weight-loss clinics in the world don’t seem to be making a dent in the problem. Could it be that people are getting advice from the wrong sources? If you want a document translated into Chinese, you won’t get much joy from someone who has studied linguistics. If you want to learn the violin, you’re better off going to a violinist than a general music teacher. If you have a diet-and-lifestyle-related chronic disease, your GP may have a drug for it or propose surgery, but the root cause is unlikely to be uncovered. You may find temporary relief, but if the broken soundpost inside isn’t dealt with, then the music is never going to sound right.

Where does the specialist start, then? There’s the rub: there is no one-size-fits-all formula. It depends on the individual. For some, it might be managing stress; for others, dealing with high levels of toxins, or rebalancing the gut microbiome. But insulin resistance will certainly be in the picture. A high-carb diet inevitably shoulders much of the blame – the same diet that has been promoted by the government for decades, with a plate that includes significant amounts of starchy carbs and processed foods. Compare the government’s “eatwell plate” with the recommended plate from BANT – the governing body in the UK for Nutritional Therapists.

The UK government’s “eatwell plate”, replete with starchy carbs, processed foods and even foods and drinks high in sugar.

What you see above is the “typical British diet”, although in fact in the average household you’ll see a lot more substances claiming to be foods on the table than are shown here. As a nation, we are the worst in Europe on that front: 50.7 percent of our calories are consumed in the form of ultra-processed food. In Italy it’s 13.4%. In Portugal, 10.2%. If the government were to promote the BANT plate and the diet and lifestyle advice around it instead of pandering to the food and pharma lobbies, we would find our beloved NHS being able to focus on what it does best: life-saving emergency treatment, and care of those with genetic and other unavoidable conditions.

Even the pressures of infectious diseases would be lessened if we all ate well instead of following the “eatwell” plate, as our immune systems would have the nutrients they need to deal with incoming pathogens. The official messages barely mention our own innate and learned defenses, although it is generally accepted that those with high blood sugar levels, heart disease and type 2 diabetes are far higher at risk from infection.

Functional medicine, and nutritional therapy based on a functional approach, are all about seeing the interconnectivity of everything that’s going on in the body, looking at what happened in someone’s life that may have triggered their dis-ease, and supporting the individual to make incremental changes to their diet and lifestyle, as well as addressing imbalances and deficiencies. So, in obesity, the traditional advice is to eat a low-fat diet and fewer calories, and to exercise. But why is it that so many people trying to follow this advice have failed over and over? For a start, focusing on calories and fat is an insult to the complex organisms we are, not to mention our rich diversity and individuality. But the main problem with this advice is that it uses fat as the scapegoat because the food industry can make money from low-fat products, as well as from sugar and refined carbohydrate products, as these are cheap to make. The tragedy for our health is that they are calorie-rich, micronutrient-poor, and addictive. They also cause insulin levels to keep on rising and rising to cope with the levels of glucose in the blood, which eventually leads to diabetes and many of our other 21st century chronic diseases.

For an in-depth look at this subject, check out this talk by David Griffiths on the Nurtural YouTube channel:

How come I was slim and healthy in my 20s? The links between food, carbs and cardiovascular health.

Clinical study finds USANA's cognitive support supplement optimizes brain function after only one use

CopaPrime+™ study conducted by Central Queensland and Deakin Universities in Australia and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore*

USANA logo. (PRNewsfoto/USANA)

SALT LAKE CITY, May 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — A new clinical study conducted by renowned brain health and cognitive performance expert Dr. Talitha Best of Central Queensland University has found that USANA® CopaPrime+ supports three cognitive measures—working memory and accuracy, attention speed and response time, and brain efficiency—only 45 minutes after participants took a single dose. The study was done in collaboration with Deakin University in Australia and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.*

Powered by USANA’s InCelligence Technology and created with a dual approach to cognitive support, CopaPrime+ assists in mental performance such as focus, alertness, memory, and learning processes, along with brain health and healthy aging.*

For more information about USANA’s CopaPrime+ supplement and this study, visit Ask the Scientists. 

“Scientifically-validated nootropics are rare and in huge demand globally,” says Dr. Rob Sinnott, USANA’s chief scientific officer. “The positive results of this study are the culmination of years of hard work put in by USANA’s R&D team to formulate CopaPrime+. We set out to create a cognitive support supplement to assist in several areas of mental performance, and we’ve succeed in doing just that. I would also like to thank those at Central Queensland University, Deakin University, and Nanyang Technological University who did an outstanding job conducting this study.”*

The double-blind, placebo-controlled study focused on the effectiveness of a combined formula nootropic on healthy brain function. CopaPrime+ uses three powerful, naturally derived nootropics—coffee fruit extract, bacopa monnieri, American ginseng—making it perfect for the study.

Forty healthy participants were enrolled in the study and randomized into a treatment or control group. Each completed a variety of tests to establish a baseline prior to taking two tablets of CopaPrime+. While performing the initial tests, images were taken of the activity in their prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain used for complex cognitive behavior and decision making. Then 45 minutes later, participants retook the tests with concurrent brain imaging.

“The CopaPrime+ study found participants who took the supplement had significant differences in working memory and accuracy, speed of attention and response time, and brain efficiency over those who were given the placebo,” says Dr. Rolando Maddela, USANA’s executive director of global health education and nutrition research. “We are very pleased with the results, as it reaffirms our decision to formulate CopaPrime+ with three nootropics, American ginseng, bacopa monnieri, and coffee-fruit extract. The pilot study of acute effects will be followed by a longer intake study.”

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

About USANA
USANA (NYSE:USNA) prides itself in providing consumers the highest quality nutritional products in the world. From its award-winning supplements to its innovative new skincare line, USANA has proven for more than 25 years why it’s a company you can trust. How about giving us a try? Shop at USANA.com.

Clinical study finds USANA’s cognitive support supplement optimizes brain function after only one use

CopaPrime+™ study conducted by Central Queensland and Deakin Universities in Australia and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore*

USANA logo. (PRNewsfoto/USANA)

SALT LAKE CITY, May 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — A new clinical study conducted by renowned brain health and cognitive performance expert Dr. Talitha Best of Central Queensland University has found that USANA® CopaPrime+ supports three cognitive measures—working memory and accuracy, attention speed and response time, and brain efficiency—only 45 minutes after participants took a single dose. The study was done in collaboration with Deakin University in Australia and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.*

Powered by USANA’s InCelligence Technology and created with a dual approach to cognitive support, CopaPrime+ assists in mental performance such as focus, alertness, memory, and learning processes, along with brain health and healthy aging.*

For more information about USANA’s CopaPrime+ supplement and this study, visit Ask the Scientists. 

“Scientifically-validated nootropics are rare and in huge demand globally,” says Dr. Rob Sinnott, USANA’s chief scientific officer. “The positive results of this study are the culmination of years of hard work put in by USANA’s R&D team to formulate CopaPrime+. We set out to create a cognitive support supplement to assist in several areas of mental performance, and we’ve succeed in doing just that. I would also like to thank those at Central Queensland University, Deakin University, and Nanyang Technological University who did an outstanding job conducting this study.”*

The double-blind, placebo-controlled study focused on the effectiveness of a combined formula nootropic on healthy brain function. CopaPrime+ uses three powerful, naturally derived nootropics—coffee fruit extract, bacopa monnieri, American ginseng—making it perfect for the study.

Forty healthy participants were enrolled in the study and randomized into a treatment or control group. Each completed a variety of tests to establish a baseline prior to taking two tablets of CopaPrime+. While performing the initial tests, images were taken of the activity in their prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain used for complex cognitive behavior and decision making. Then 45 minutes later, participants retook the tests with concurrent brain imaging.

“The CopaPrime+ study found participants who took the supplement had significant differences in working memory and accuracy, speed of attention and response time, and brain efficiency over those who were given the placebo,” says Dr. Rolando Maddela, USANA’s executive director of global health education and nutrition research. “We are very pleased with the results, as it reaffirms our decision to formulate CopaPrime+ with three nootropics, American ginseng, bacopa monnieri, and coffee-fruit extract. The pilot study of acute effects will be followed by a longer intake study.”

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

About USANA
USANA (NYSE:USNA) prides itself in providing consumers the highest quality nutritional products in the world. From its award-winning supplements to its innovative new skincare line, USANA has proven for more than 25 years why it’s a company you can trust. How about giving us a try? Shop at USANA.com.

Health Supplement Company of the Year

Named Health Supplement Company of the Year 2019 by Global Health & Pharma magazine

SALT LAKE CITY, May 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — 

Built on a foundation of leading science and technology, USANA continues to stake its claim at the forefront of the health and wellness industry with its recent award from Global Health & Pharma magazine. USANA was named as the Health Supplement Company of the Year at the 2019 Biotechnology Awards by the England-based organization.

USANA wins the 2019 GHP Biotechnology award for Health Supplement Company of the Year
USANA wins the 2019 GHP Biotechnology award for Health Supplement Company of the Year

“This award is a great achievement for USANA and asserts our claim as a leader in science and wellness,” said USANA’s Chief Communication and Marketing Officer Dan Macuga. “This company was created on the idea of making the world a healthier place — and when you look at our recent advancements with our USANA InCelligence Technology® and Celavive® skincare system, you can see this idea firsthand.”

To discover USANA’s entire line of award-winning nutritional and skincare products, please visit usana.com.

“I have been in this industry a long time, and I have never seen a company as dedicated to scientific quality and excellence as USANA,” said USANA’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Robert Sinnott. “From the top down, every single person at USANA is committed to providing its customers with the best experience and highest quality of products possible.”  

USANA was selected through a combination of public nominations and research by the Global Health & Pharma team. This award recognizes companies within the ever-evolving biotechnology industry to create a true representation of the very best the industry has to offer. USANA was also named Best Nutritional Supplement Manufacturer by GHP in 2018.

“Through this awards program, GHP honors a range of companies active within the sector,” said Steve Simpson, GHP’s award coordinator. “From leading chemists, clinicians, researchers, manufacturers, consultants, engineers, to those providing peripherals and specialist services, all of my winners deserve hearty congratulations, and I wish them the best of luck for the future.”

Global Health & Pharma magazine is a global information sharing platform and a multidisciplinary members community. The publication was established to enhance communication networks and collaboration across all themes and disciplines within three main categories: human, animal and environmental health.

Since its inception in 1992, USANA has won more than 700 local, national, and international awards.

About USANA
USANA (USNA) prides itself in providing consumers the highest quality nutritional products in the world. From its award-winning supplements to its innovative new skincare line, USANA has proven for more than 25 years why it’s a company you can trust. How about giving us a try? Shop at USANA.com or learn more about the products and research.

Contact: Angela Henderson
Independent USANA Distributor

[contact-form][contact-field label=”Name” type=”name” required=”1″/][contact-field label=”Email” type=”email” required=”1″/][contact-field label=”Comment” type=”textarea” required=”1″/][/contact-form]

USANA logo. (PRNewsfoto/USANA)

Propaganda that makes you sick

A recent tweet by the UK PM’s official account suggested that we entertain ourselves by baking. It appears the Great British Public don’t need much encouragement on that front, as replies to the tweet complained that flour was in short supply in shops. But the government’s seemingly harmless exhortation to eat cake and carry on is dangerous and irresponsible, and is part of a problem that goes far deeper than shopping difficulties.

My recent Facebook feed has been peppered with pictures of simnel cake and easter eggs, and I’ve been hearing the same messages from friends over and over during the pandemic lockdown… “I know I shouldn’t but I’m just having a sneaky piece of cake / bowl of ice cream / toast and jam”. “I’ve been feeling a bit low. I’m trying my best to stay off the carbs, but I’ve just eaten half a packet of biscuits.” I can relate. I’m not a fan of cake and biscuits, but dark chocolate is another matter, and when it’s available in the fridge, it’s going to get eaten. And once you start, it’s very difficult to stop. There’s a genuine physiological reason for that, and it’s to do with the metabolic hormones (For an in-depth and empowering exploration of this topic, check out this talk on metabolic syndrome by David Griffiths.)

The struggle is real!

Judging by the facebook feed, some people clearly have more time to bake now that there are limited options for going out… and baking with kids holds so many opportunities for learning as well as hygge-togetherness. It feels like a homely, nurturing thing to do to give the family some real, home-baked comfort food; but all the while, lurking in the background, is a nagging sense of it being a guilty pleasure.

If you’re from the same generation as me, or older, you’ll remember the cream cake slogan from the 1970s: “Naughty but nice!” put out by the National Dairy Council in association with the now defunct Milk Marketing Board. The message as to why fresh cream cakes were naughty was made clear: the high fat content of the cream. But was fat actually the culprit, or did the “naughty” lie elsewhere?

Fresh cream cakes – naughty… but nice!

The growing popularity — and success — of ketogenic and paleolithic diets shows us that the health conscious and informed among us are well aware that sugar is the cause of our downfall… not only fuelling the rise in obesity, but also in chronic disease. The calorie-counting approach has been failing people for decades as it doesn’t differentiate between the various sources of energy (fat, carbohydrates, protein) in terms of their effects on our hormones, and in particular, on insulin.

The fat vs sugar debate has been raging for more than 60 years, and as always, the waters have been muddied by corporate interests. A paper in JAMA Internal Medicine revealed that as far back as the 1960s and 70s, the sugar industry’s lobbying group, then known as the Sugar Association, executed a campaign to demonize cholesterol and fat as the primary cause of coronary heart disease. Industry interests have long influenced the publication or (withholding) of information that would implicate the role of a product in disease — the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries are prime examples — and the sugar industry is no exception.

As one of many examples, in 1968, the International Sugar Research Foundation commissioned a study on rats to look at how sucrose and starchy carbohydrates differ in the role they play in heart disease. The study, known as Project 259, was terminated early and its results were never published. Why was this? A recent review of the internal documents from the study showed that the findings linked sugar to high levels of triglycerides (one of the markers of metabolic syndrome, which indicates a high risk of heart disease, type II diabetes and other chronic disease). Not only that, Project 259 suggested a link between sugar and cancer because of the way sugar interacts with certain gut bacteria.

There are many other reasons to steer clear of sugar besides diabetes, cancer and heart disease: for example, there are studies linking sugar consumption to asthma and airway inflammation, dementia, and depression. It also appears to hinder recovery in a bacterial infection… although in the case of a viral infection a small amount of sugar may actually help the immune system to deal with the virus.

The availability of high-carb snacks and alcohol, combined with lack of exercise, not to mention the mental-health impact of isolation means that the “lockdown” situation will be setting us up for an even greater national health problem and additional pressure on the NHS, with no satisfactory information forthcoming from the media or government on how to support the immune system and protect our health. It is known that those with diabetes and heart disease are at a much higher risk of contracting Covid-19 – or any other infection, for that matter. Blood-sugar issues also put you in the higher-risk bracket, and that means approximately one in three people in the UK, and one in two in the USA.

So, what to do? Is it a simple matter of making up our minds to avoid the sweet stuff? We’re set up for failure if we think we can resist the cake stash in the cupboard, and the obvious place to start is to not have them in the cupboard in the first place… but temptations will always be lurking around the corner: the strategically-placed sweets at the supermarket check-out; the Victoria sponge so lovingly baked by the neighbour; the mouthwatering organic plum jam from the market…

The problem is that our social and home lives revolve around sugar. Our brains are hardwired to seek out sweet food and to get as much of it as possible. In the case of fructose, the natural sugar in fruit, the signal that is normally sent to the brain to tell it that we’re full is not triggered. Given that a huge proportion of processed foods contain sugar of one type or another, it is hardly surprising that the obesity epidemic is now gathering speed like a runaway doughnut. We’ve evolved with that sweetness homing device, but it was never meant to be rewarded all year round and without limits. It was a mechanism to get us through the hard winter months without starving: all-you-can-eat hedgerow buffet in the autumn, then starvation rations until spring.

So what is the solution? Is it possible to escape the clutches of the deadly white stuff?

There’s no better place to start than breakfast (although, contrary to popular opinion, we don’t have to break our fast at breakfast time), and there’s more to that statement than the much-touted importance of breakfast over all other meals. The content of the first meal of the day is crucial. The rollercoaster ride of insulin spikes and dips means that if we start off the day with starchy carbohydrates, we will be seeking out sweet foods for the rest of the day. (Starchy, refined carbohydrates break down very easily to simple sugars. You wouldn’t spoon pure glucose into your mouth to feed yourself, but we’re almost doing that on a daily basis with our breakfast choices.) This approach also applies to any other meal or snack. If you have trouble with balancing your blood sugar levels, then a sweet taste (or alcohol) last thing at night is likely to wake you in the middle of the night as your insulin levels plummet and your brain wants you to go out and hunt down an antelope.

Instead of cereal, toast and orange juice for breakfast, go for eggs, fish, avocado… even steak and tomatoes. And for the rest of the day, continue in the same way, avoiding not just sugar, but white (or beige) carbohydrates: pastry, rice, potatoes, pasta. Minimise fruit and focus on non-starchy vegetables, and don’t drink your fruit. It’s a challenge, for sure, and one that involves a whole new way of thinking — a paradigm shift. But the results speak for themselves — reversal of type 2 diabetes being one outcome that is being seen over and over in people who have taken their health into their own hands. And the changes in health are not only well worth the effort, but can add years to your life, massively reduce the risk of chronic disease, and… I would stick my neck out and say, may well be essential for the survival and evolution of the human race.

What about the immune system?

Viruses are everywhere. There are an estimated 380 trillion viruses inhabiting our bodies (here’s a very interesting article about the human virome). There’s a lot of talk about treating viral disease at the moment, and about developing vaccines, but generally in the mainstream media there is very little information on our own innate resources. I feel compelled to redress the balance a bit, and give some information on how we can protect ourselves.

There are two aspects to not contracting symptoms of a virus. On the one hand it’s about minimising exposure… hand-washing, wearing a mask, avoiding contact… But just as importantly, on the other hand it’s about optimising our immune system. So how do you do that?

IMMUNE SYSTEM 101

1) Get enough good quality sleep. This is so important. Complete darkness and as quiet as possible: get blackout blinds; don’t have electrical equipment on in your bedroom, especially with LEDs; turn your phone off…not just on silent; if your partner snores, consider sleeping in another room. Many couples do this… probably more than you’d imagine

2) Avoid sugar. Sugar suppresses the immune system. If you find yourself with the flu, don’t reach for the cake. It will prolong the duration of the illness. Refined carbohydrates (flour-based products) also break down to simple sugars, so aim for a low carb, high good fat way of eating

Eat the rainbow, get good protein, avoid refined carbohydrates, get plenty of good fats

3) Eat the rainbow 🌈: get as many different colours of vegetables in your diet as possible. Different colours of foods are associated with different phytochemicals that have many protective effects on the body.

4) Get enough good protein. We need protein to produce glutathione, which is one of the most powerful antioxidants around…and it’s made by our own cells.

5) Supplement with a high quality, high potency multinutrient. The immune system relies on highly complex interactions with numerous nutrients, including vitamins A, C, D, E, B2, B6, B12, zinc, selenium and folic acid, although that’s not an exhaustive list. Other nutrients are needed to interact with some of these, like cholesterol (to make vitamin D if you’re getting it from sunshine, which we’re not in the winter months), and magnesium, as this is needed for all cellular functions involving vitamin D. This is the one I use myself and highly recommend: *

6) We also need to be taking in good quality fats in order to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K. We should increase our intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory, and reduce intake of the pro-inflammatory omega-6. Supplementing with a pure fish oil with a good EPA/DHA profile is the easiest way to do this. The one I use and recommend is double-distilled under pharmaceutical manufacturing conditions – a rare thing in the supplement industry. *

7) Look after your gut bacteria. Around 70 percent of the immune system is in the gut, and the microbiota in the gut play a huge part in keeping us healthy. Maintain a good balance of gut bacteria by eating plenty of fibrous prebiotic vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, leeks, onions, garlic, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, kiwi, konjak), yoghurt and fermented foods if you are not sensitive to histamine. Take probiotics to increase biodiversity of gut flora and encourage the good ones. Lactobacillus rhamnosus is one that also helps to seal a leaky gut, which is essential for a normally functioning immune system. Here’s my recommendation for this, from the cellular nutrition company that is rated #1 in the Nutrisearch Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements. *

8) Nurture your spirit and give yourself time to chill and do things that you love to do. Spend time with people who are positive. Meditate, be creative, spend time in nature. Laugh a lot.

9) Minimise stressors. Even watching a horror film will increase your cortisol levels and put your body in fight or flight mode, which means it must concentrate on surviving rather than thriving.

10) Do resistance training (weights) and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This has so many positive effects on the body, including increasing production of glutathione, creation of mitochondria and mitochondrial turnover.

Happy immune boosting! Get in touch if you would like any more info on anything here. Always happy to chat 😊 Please share if you would like to balance out the sensationalist media reports.

* I work with and use these supplements because of the company’s pharmaceutical-grade manufacturing practices and their commitment to research (80+ scientists, 18 with PhDs). I get a small commission from all sales. The company markets its products through referrals and is not on the high-street. It therefore spends its “marketing” budget on commissions rather than billboards, because the people using and having good results from the products are the best advertisement.

Viruses and cellular nutrition: an immunologist's perspective

Studies as far back as the 1960s and 70s looked at the higher rates of infection in malnourished children in developing countries in comparison with those who were adequately nourished. These were epidemiological (population) studies. But laboratory research has been demonstrating the role of micronutrition in cellular immunity for decades, too.

“There’s no virus that can penetrate a healthy cell fed with nutrition at optimal levels.”

Dr Myron Wentz, PhD Microbiology, specialty in immunology

This was the bold statement made by Dr. Myron Wentz in 2019. On the face of it, this seems like a fairly outrageous claim. But the word “healthy” is key. What if the pandemic is showing us that there is a deeper underlying problem with the health of millions of people (and their cells) on this planet? As individuals, given the situation we are faced with, perhaps now is the time to be listening to the messages being shared by specialists in viral behaviour at a cellular level, and not just the epidemiologists and the creators of computer models looking at viral spread in populations. Dr. Myron Wentz’s credentials as an eminent microbiologist and immunologist put him in the first category.

What makes Dr. Wentz unusual is that he has transferred the decades’ worth of knowledge he gained working with human cells in the laboratory to practical application.

Dr. Wentz founded Gull Laboratories in Salt Lake City in the early 1970s. He spent 20 years developing and manufacturing more than 30 different diagnostic tests designed to detect infections and certain autoimmune disorders. Many of these assays were FDA firsts, and Gull’s greatest success was the creation of the first commercially available test for the diagnosis of Epstein-Barr virus infection.

Dr. Wentz’s painstaking work with cellular nutrition provided him with a unique knowledge of how to keep human cell cultures alive in the laboratory indefinitely. He arrived at a nutrient formula that made his cells so healthy that he could not get the viruses he was trying to introduce to them to take hold. This, then, is the background to his bold statement above. When it came to developing viral diagnostic kits, cells brimming with health were unhelpful to Dr. Wentz’s research as they would continually reject the viruses, and so something had to be done to weaken the cells to make them susceptible.

Interestingly, the researchers at Gull Laboratories used iron (a pro-oxidant) initially, to try to weaken the cells, but they were weakened so drastically that they died. (This should be a warning to anyone using iron supplements indiscriminately for “energy”. Iron supplementation should only be done if you have diagnosed anaemia: it is known to contribute to the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which is part of the aetiology of heart disease.) When an excess amount of copper was introduced, however, this was found to weaken the cells just enough to accept the virus.

A vastly complex universe of enzymatic and chemical reactions — quadrillions of them — happening in our cells every second of our lives.

It is countless experiences like these (working with each individual nutrient in varying doses and potencies, exploring the synergies between nutrients, and the interactions with enzymes) that are pieced together to form a complete understanding of what the different types of human cells need to function to their maximum potential. That potential includes the ability to ward off viruses and deal with pathogens and toxins, free radicals and metabolic waste products. The whole picture is vastly complex, and 40 quadrillion reactions take place in our bodies every single second. The scientists who understand the full picture are rare, but even rarer are those who take this knowledge and apply it at the macro level — in the cells of real, everyday people.

Gull Laboratory’s contributions to the field of disease detection played a critical role in the world health arena, but Dr. Wentz believed the prevention of disease was even more important. Free radicals in the human body are believed to be the cause of most degenerative diseases, and Dr. Wentz saw the need for supplementing with antioxidants to counter the negative effects of free radicals. And as we’ve seen, a cell weakened by oxidative damage and degeneration is a cell that is less able to defend itself from viruses and other pathogens. Dr. Wentz concluded that the single most effective thing people could do to prevent disease was to receive proper nutrition at the most basic level—in each individual human cell.

Looking into the nutritional supplements available on the market at the time, Dr. Wentz says that there was no product on the shelves that would have kept his cell cultures alive in the lab. Dr. Michael Colgan, PhD, an internationally renowned research scientist in the field of nutrition and anti-aging, recognised Dr. Wentz as having unique scientific knowledge that was transferrable to human health, and urged him to bring this to the wider public. He said of the work going on at Gull:

On the research front, the latest development will yield nutrient supplements superior to anything that has been made before. Respected microbiologist Dr Myron Wentz of Gull Laboratories, Salt Lake City, Utah, is starting to test for nutritional optima by growing human cells in vitro (in the test tube). By feeding the cells different nutrient combinations, he aims to determine which combinations produce the best growth, the best resistance to disease, and the longest life. It is an advance in nutrition science that coincides well with the dawn of the third millennium.

Dr Michael Colgan, Optimum Sports Nutrition, 1993

Dr. Wentz took the decision in 2007 to close Gull Laboratories and divert his knowledge and resources into setting up his own cellular nutrition company.

“My assays became the gold standard in the diagnostics industry because I grew healthier cells than others did.”

Dr. Myron Wentz

“The products I set out to develop two decades ago were not the result of a list of ingredients that I got out of a book. They were born from years of experience of observing the effects of individual nutrients on the health and longevity of the cells in my cultures. My assays became the gold standard in the diagnostics industry because I grew healthier cells than others did. I nutriented my cells better than my colleagues, which allowed me to create non-defective and complete viral antigens.

“Every virus has a target host cell that it prefers, and since I produced assays for every human virus of diagnostic importance, I grew many different kinds of human cells. To do that, I needed to provide these cells with ideal growing conditions, and I especially needed to provide them with nutrition containing the right ingredients, in the right form, and in the correct balance.

“I knew that certain elements interacted with each other and therefore needed to be in precise balance in the body. It’s so important for cell function that nutrients be in proper balance. I made it our goal from day one to develop and provide the most complete and potent antioxidant formulation possible, and we have done that and continue to do that. I assure you, there is much more to creating life-changing products to simply choosing ingredients from a list.”

Dr. Myron Wentz — Recipient of the Albert Einstein Award for
Outstanding Achievement in the Life Sciences

We as living, breathing humans are anything but an in vitro experiment, faced as we are with the daily onslaughts of pollution, stress, toxins, poor sleep, too little or too much exercise — the variable parameters are endless; but every endeavour needs a benchmark — an ideal which we can strive for on a daily basis. As far as our quest for optimum health and lifespan goes, the in vitro tests provide the foundation to ongoing research into optimum nutrition — the piece of the health jigsaw that is probably the easiest one to follow.

Nearly thirty years on from Dr Colgan’s accolade, Dr. Wentz’s vision has materialised into a billion dollar company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. His insistence on scientific rigour in striving towards his lofty goal of a world “free from pain and suffering” translates into a research and development team with over 80 scientists including 18 with PhDs. An investment of such proportion means that the company stays at the forefront of nutritional science, and engages in groundbreaking research into subjects like cell-signalling, Traditional Chinese Medicine, mental health, the microbiome and personalised nutrition, all of which are being implemented in the company’s latest product lines and are trialled on patients at their cutting-edge research hospital, Sanoviv.

Collaborative research with the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, 2019

The unique story of a nutritional company born out of decades of viral diagnostics research and development is an especially poignant one while the world is obsessing about protecting our cells and bodies from Coronavirus. But the significance shouldn’t stop there, and the main focus of USANA Health Sciences always has been on the prevention of chronic degenerative disease. Perhaps this unprecedented situation of a world on lockdown will create a new paradigm — one where people start to take charge of their health and protect themselves from both chronic disease as well as viral or bacterial infections.

3:25 mins: Some of the researchers at USANA speak briefly on the company’s R&D activities

For information on USANA’s nutraceutical range, please use the form below to request a catalogue or to set up customer account to obtain wholesale prices.

We are looking to expand our team! If you would like more information on partnering with USANA Health Sciences as an independent distributor, please get in touch using the contact form below.

[contact-form][contact-field label=”Name” type=”name” required=”1″/][contact-field label=”Email” type=”email” required=”1″/][contact-field label=”Comment” type=”textarea” required=”1″/][/contact-form]

Viruses and cellular nutrition: an immunologist’s perspective

Studies as far back as the 1960s and 70s looked at the higher rates of infection in malnourished children in developing countries in comparison with those who were adequately nourished. These were epidemiological (population) studies. But laboratory research has been demonstrating the role of micronutrition in cellular immunity for decades, too.

“There’s no virus that can penetrate a healthy cell fed with nutrition at optimal levels.”

Dr Myron Wentz, PhD Microbiology, specialty in immunology

This was the bold statement made by Dr. Myron Wentz in 2019. On the face of it, this seems like a fairly outrageous claim. But the word “healthy” is key. What if the pandemic is showing us that there is a deeper underlying problem with the health of millions of people (and their cells) on this planet? As individuals, given the situation we are faced with, perhaps now is the time to be listening to the messages being shared by specialists in viral behaviour at a cellular level, and not just the epidemiologists and the creators of computer models looking at viral spread in populations. Dr. Myron Wentz’s credentials as an eminent microbiologist and immunologist put him in the first category.

What makes Dr. Wentz unusual is that he has transferred the decades’ worth of knowledge he gained working with human cells in the laboratory to practical application.

Dr. Wentz founded Gull Laboratories in Salt Lake City in the early 1970s. He spent 20 years developing and manufacturing more than 30 different diagnostic tests designed to detect infections and certain autoimmune disorders. Many of these assays were FDA firsts, and Gull’s greatest success was the creation of the first commercially available test for the diagnosis of Epstein-Barr virus infection.

Dr. Wentz’s painstaking work with cellular nutrition provided him with a unique knowledge of how to keep human cell cultures alive in the laboratory indefinitely. He arrived at a nutrient formula that made his cells so healthy that he could not get the viruses he was trying to introduce to them to take hold. This, then, is the background to his bold statement above. When it came to developing viral diagnostic kits, cells brimming with health were unhelpful to Dr. Wentz’s research as they would continually reject the viruses, and so something had to be done to weaken the cells to make them susceptible.

Interestingly, the researchers at Gull Laboratories used iron (a pro-oxidant) initially, to try to weaken the cells, but they were weakened so drastically that they died. (This should be a warning to anyone using iron supplements indiscriminately for “energy”. Iron supplementation should only be done if you have diagnosed anaemia: it is known to contribute to the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which is part of the aetiology of heart disease.) When an excess amount of copper was introduced, however, this was found to weaken the cells just enough to accept the virus.

A vastly complex universe of enzymatic and chemical reactions — quadrillions of them — happening in our cells every second of our lives.

It is countless experiences like these (working with each individual nutrient in varying doses and potencies, exploring the synergies between nutrients, and the interactions with enzymes) that are pieced together to form a complete understanding of what the different types of human cells need to function to their maximum potential. That potential includes the ability to ward off viruses and deal with pathogens and toxins, free radicals and metabolic waste products. The whole picture is vastly complex, and 40 quadrillion reactions take place in our bodies every single second. The scientists who understand the full picture are rare, but even rarer are those who take this knowledge and apply it at the macro level — in the cells of real, everyday people.

Gull Laboratory’s contributions to the field of disease detection played a critical role in the world health arena, but Dr. Wentz believed the prevention of disease was even more important. Free radicals in the human body are believed to be the cause of most degenerative diseases, and Dr. Wentz saw the need for supplementing with antioxidants to counter the negative effects of free radicals. And as we’ve seen, a cell weakened by oxidative damage and degeneration is a cell that is less able to defend itself from viruses and other pathogens. Dr. Wentz concluded that the single most effective thing people could do to prevent disease was to receive proper nutrition at the most basic level—in each individual human cell.

Looking into the nutritional supplements available on the market at the time, Dr. Wentz says that there was no product on the shelves that would have kept his cell cultures alive in the lab. Dr. Michael Colgan, PhD, an internationally renowned research scientist in the field of nutrition and anti-aging, recognised Dr. Wentz as having unique scientific knowledge that was transferrable to human health, and urged him to bring this to the wider public. He said of the work going on at Gull:

On the research front, the latest development will yield nutrient supplements superior to anything that has been made before. Respected microbiologist Dr Myron Wentz of Gull Laboratories, Salt Lake City, Utah, is starting to test for nutritional optima by growing human cells in vitro (in the test tube). By feeding the cells different nutrient combinations, he aims to determine which combinations produce the best growth, the best resistance to disease, and the longest life. It is an advance in nutrition science that coincides well with the dawn of the third millennium.

Dr Michael Colgan, Optimum Sports Nutrition, 1993

Dr. Wentz took the decision in 2007 to close Gull Laboratories and divert his knowledge and resources into setting up his own cellular nutrition company.

“My assays became the gold standard in the diagnostics industry because I grew healthier cells than others did.”

Dr. Myron Wentz

“The products I set out to develop two decades ago were not the result of a list of ingredients that I got out of a book. They were born from years of experience of observing the effects of individual nutrients on the health and longevity of the cells in my cultures. My assays became the gold standard in the diagnostics industry because I grew healthier cells than others did. I nutriented my cells better than my colleagues, which allowed me to create non-defective and complete viral antigens.

“Every virus has a target host cell that it prefers, and since I produced assays for every human virus of diagnostic importance, I grew many different kinds of human cells. To do that, I needed to provide these cells with ideal growing conditions, and I especially needed to provide them with nutrition containing the right ingredients, in the right form, and in the correct balance.

“I knew that certain elements interacted with each other and therefore needed to be in precise balance in the body. It’s so important for cell function that nutrients be in proper balance. I made it our goal from day one to develop and provide the most complete and potent antioxidant formulation possible, and we have done that and continue to do that. I assure you, there is much more to creating life-changing products to simply choosing ingredients from a list.”

Dr. Myron Wentz — Recipient of the Albert Einstein Award for
Outstanding Achievement in the Life Sciences

We as living, breathing humans are anything but an in vitro experiment, faced as we are with the daily onslaughts of pollution, stress, toxins, poor sleep, too little or too much exercise — the variable parameters are endless; but every endeavour needs a benchmark — an ideal which we can strive for on a daily basis. As far as our quest for optimum health and lifespan goes, the in vitro tests provide the foundation to ongoing research into optimum nutrition — the piece of the health jigsaw that is probably the easiest one to follow.

Nearly thirty years on from Dr Colgan’s accolade, Dr. Wentz’s vision has materialised into a billion dollar company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. His insistence on scientific rigour in striving towards his lofty goal of a world “free from pain and suffering” translates into a research and development team with over 80 scientists including 18 with PhDs. An investment of such proportion means that the company stays at the forefront of nutritional science, and engages in groundbreaking research into subjects like cell-signalling, Traditional Chinese Medicine, mental health, the microbiome and personalised nutrition, all of which are being implemented in the company’s latest product lines and are trialled on patients at their cutting-edge research hospital, Sanoviv.

Collaborative research with the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, 2019

The unique story of a nutritional company born out of decades of viral diagnostics research and development is an especially poignant one while the world is obsessing about protecting our cells and bodies from Coronavirus. But the significance shouldn’t stop there, and the main focus of USANA Health Sciences always has been on the prevention of chronic degenerative disease. Perhaps this unprecedented situation of a world on lockdown will create a new paradigm — one where people start to take charge of their health and protect themselves from both chronic disease as well as viral or bacterial infections.

3:25 mins: Some of the researchers at USANA speak briefly on the company’s R&D activities

For information on USANA’s nutraceutical range, please use the form below to request a catalogue or to set up customer account to obtain wholesale prices.

We are looking to expand our team! If you would like more information on partnering with USANA Health Sciences as an independent distributor, please get in touch using the contact form below.

[contact-form][contact-field label=”Name” type=”name” required=”1″/][contact-field label=”Email” type=”email” required=”1″/][contact-field label=”Comment” type=”textarea” required=”1″/][/contact-form]