USANA from a Physician's Perspective
by Ray Strand, M.D.
Page 1 of 2
This text is taken from an audio cassette prepared by Dr. Strand.
His views come from the perspective of a practicing physician who has experience with
I am Dr. Ray Strand, a family physician who
has been in private practice for over 23 years. I have a busy family practice in a rural
community in the upper Midwest. I love caring for my patients and have dedicated my
professional life to protecting their health. Most physicians are disease-oriented and
lack the time or the interest to become involved in preventive medicine or nutrition.
Though I have always been involved with preventive medicine, I have never been too excited
about nutrition. Over the years, many of my patients have asked me if they should take any
nutritional supplements. My standard reply would be to tell them that if they would choose
and eat the proper food, nutritional supplements would not be necessary.
A few years ago, articles began appearing in
our medical journals on the subject of "free radicals" and their relationship to
degenerative diseases. At first, I didn't get too excited about these studies because I
didn't feel they were applicable to the every day practice of medicine. However, in the
past year there have been some major authorities in preventive medicine who have been
speaking out on this subject. One of the most notable is Dr. Kenneth Cooper who started
the aerobic exercise movement some twenty years ago. He has recently released his book,
"The Antioxidant Revolution." In this book, Dr. Cooper carefully lays out the
medical evidence that leads him to conclude that everyone should be on an antioxidant
supplement. This is a bold statement coming from a physician who is so well respected in
the medical community. I have to admit that this was the catalyst that started my new
found interest and research into nutritionals.
What are "free radicals" and how do
they relate to degenerative diseases? This question must be answered first if we are going
to be able to understand the need for nutritional supplements.
Free radicals are released during normal
metabolism in your body, as your body's cells turn your food into energy. There are
several different kinds of free radicals, but by definition they are molecules that have
an unpaired electron in their outer orbit. This is essentially a charged molecular bandit
that is seeking out another molecule with which it can combine. These unstable molecules
are actually bouncing around crashing into other particles and tissue. Chemical studies
have shown that the impac t of these particles has produced bursts of light. Free radicals
are good in the fact that they help regulate the tone of your smooth muscles, fight
inflammation, and kill bacteria. However, the key to the safe operation of free radicals
in the body is balance. Many things greatly increase the number of free radicals in our
body and throw off this delicate balance. These are pollutants in our air, water and food.
Additionally, ultraviolet light from the sun, cigarette smoke, radiation, excessive
exercise and stress cause an increase in the number of free radicals in our body. These
excessive free radicals have been found to cause significant damage to the cell and even
the DNA structure of the cell.
The body produces its own antioxidants that
can neutralize these free radicals and render them harmless. However, into today's
environment the body is not able to produce all of the antioxidants that we need and we
have to rely on our diet to furnish the rest. These external antioxidants are primarily
Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Beta Carotene. When the body is not able to handle these free
radicals, they are free to run wild and cause devastating damage to healthy and unhealthy
parts of the body. This ultimately leads to many degenerative diseases and premature
death. Solid medical research indicates that these outlaw molecules are involved in the
process of cancer initiation, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), cataracts,
premature aging, Parkinson's disease and the list goes on and on.
Dr. Lester Packer, a biochemist at the
University of California at Berkeley, began to demonstrate in his research that free
radicals are a major threat to our health. Dr. Packer pointed to the very volatile
hydroxyl free radical as one of the main culprits in the initiation and promotion of
cancer. The primary way in which these free radicals cause cancer is by launching an
attack on the nucleus of the cells and damaging the DNA, which may lead to the mutation of
the cell and cancerous growths.
In coronary artery disease, Dr. Daniel
Steinberg, professor of medicine at the University of California in San Diego, proposed
the theory that oxidation-- the combining of free radicals with the LDL Cholesterol (bad
cholesterol)--- is the basis for formation of the plaque and the hardening of the arteries
in our bodies. More leaders in the medical field are accepting his position as further
studies have also shown the link between free radicals, LDL cholesterol, and
atherosclerosis ( hardening of the arteries). Antioxidants, especially Vitamin C, have
been shown to lower total cholesterol while elevating the HDL cholesterol (good
cholesterol). Therefore, on one hand the antioxidants lower the LDL cholesterol and on the
other hand makes them less damaging.
Studies have emerged that are demonstrating
that individuals who have high levels of antioxidants, have significantly decreased
incidence of coronary artery disease and cancer. These studies show to me a common thread
that leads to many degenerative diseases and ultimately premature death. These studies
also show that antioxidants if present in adequate amounts in the body lead to protection
against these free radicals and their devastating effect on our health. It is also
accepted, that the amount of antioxidants that we need is much greater than we originally
thought was necessary.
Excessive free radicals have also been shown
to lower our immune system and leave us vulnerable to all types of infections. There is
evidence that free radical damage may lead to fatigue, muscle aches, lack of
concentration, and a feeling of poor health. In my practice, I have begun to label these
patients as immunologically depressed. Many patients come into my office and state that
they just do not feel well. They do not have any localized complaints of pain or
discomfort, but overall they know that something has changed. I will proceed with a
complete history and physical exam along with a total chemistry and blood profile only to
find that everything is normal and no disease process can be identified. Many of these
individuals may be labeled as emotionally depressed or even psychosomatic. After my
research into the free radical theory, I have come to realize that this could possibly be
the beginning of the devastating damage that free radicals can inflict on the body.
Other interesting studies have emerged over
the past few years about our nutritional state and health. Approximately two years ago
there were some solid studies released which showed about 300,000 cardiac events a year
are related to magnesium deficiency. Because of these studies, we are now checking
everyone's magnesium levels in the coronary care units and in our offices.
This summer, Dr. Jacob Selhub, professor at
Tufts University in Boston, published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine
that stated that approximately 20 percent of our heart attacks and strokes are related to
folic acid deficiency. Other researchers have reported that folic acid deficiency could
trigger as much as 30 to 40 percent of the heart attacks and strokes suffered by American
men each year. Dr. Selhub stated in his article that other researchers have repeated these
studies more than 30 times and they all show the same findings.
After studying these findings, I began asking
myself two questions. Since we are the bread basket of the world, why do we have so many
nutritional deficiencies? The second question is; "Why does it take the medical
community 30 to 40 studies that show the same thing to begin to tell the public about
it?" If this had been a new drug that helped in the treatment of ulcers, the public
would have heard about it at the start of the second study.
As I mentioned earlier, I have told my
patients for years that if they would go to their local grocery store and purchase and eat
the right food they would not need to spend their money on nutritional supplements.
However, because of the depletion of the nutrients in the soil and the way we process food
in this country today, this is no longer the case. Even though we can preserve our food
for great lengths of time, medical studies clearly show that the nutrient value is
significantly depleted by the time we consume our food. By the time we purchase our food
at the grocery store, there has been a significant loss of important nutrients and there
is further loss when we prepare food.
There is solid evidence that this generation
is exposed to more pollutants, drugs, physical and emotional stress than has ever been
seen before. Also, it is accepted medically that as we age we are not able to absorb and
utilize the external antioxidants as well as we could when we were younger. This is one of
the reasons why our elderly population is not dying much from old age, but are suffering
and dying from degenerative diseases. These facts have lead many physicians not only to
change their minds about nutritional supplements but to actually start recommending them
to their patients. This is definitely the conclusion that I have come to over the past
Next, came my search to find out what
nutritional supplements I could recommend with confidence to my patients. About a year ago
my wife and I began taking a private course in nutrition and exercise. We were placed on a
popular vitamin and supplement regime. Even though my wife has been a very active person,
she never exercised consistently and this was a significant change for her. She started to
have a minor viral illnesses frequently in spite of the fact she was eating well and was
on nutritional supplements. In early April, my wife became ill and developed a severe
pneumonia. This was by far the worst illness she had ever had in her life. The pulmonary
and the infectious disease specialists were concerned that it may not clear and that a
lobe of her lung may have to be surgically removed. We were very thankful when the
pneumonia cleared after extensive IV antibiotics and respiratory therapy. However, she
developed an asthmatic reaction following this illness that required continual respiratory
therapy, oral antibiotics and use of steroids. She could not exert herself physically and
she could only work for about two hours without resting. This went on for about three
months and obviously was very frustrating for both of us.
My wife approached me after she had heard
that a friend of ours had a similar problem with fatigue following a pneumonia he
developed during the winter. His sister had sent him some nutritionals from Idaho and
after 10 days he was back to normal. She asked me if she could at least try these
nutritionals. I told her that she could try anything, since it was obvious to me that what
we were doing was not accomplishing much of anything. My wife started the USANA
essentials, Proflavanol, Fibergy, and Nutrimeal as soon as she received them. Within three
days she began feeling better and within ten days she was back to normal and was totally
off all her medications.
After I had seen the results my wife had
experienced with USANA, I was anxious to try the products personally. For about a year, I
had been struggling with early retinal degeneration of my eyes. I had been evaluated by
two ophthalmologists and a neurologist. They had difficulty correcting my vision to 20/20
and I was developing heavy dark floaters in my vision. It was as if I were watching a
World War II movie with all those dark lines coming across my visual field. Within two
weeks of starting the USANA essentials and Proflavanol, my vision improved to 20/10 and
the floaters began to improve. Now, I feel that my floaters are about 70 percent improved.
I also experienced a significant increase in my ability to concentrate and noted definite
improvement in my energy level. After I had been on the products for about two months, I
developed shingles along my chest. At first, I was disappointed that I had come down with
any kind of infection; however, the pain was minimal and the skin breakout was less than a
square inch. Having seen so many worse cases of shingles in my practice, there was no
doubt that my immune system was functioning well.
In my twenty-three years of family practice,
I had seen patients improve on nutritional supplements, but never this dramatically. I
began to investigate and evaluate the USANA Nutritionals and try to understand why these
nutritionals were helping my wife and me so much. During my research, I was pleased to
find out that USANA was founded by Dr. Myron Wentz an immunologist and cell culturist. I
was familiar with several of the viral tests that he had developed through Gull
Laboratories. The most famous was his test kit for the Epstein-Barr virus. Since the
diagnosis of diseases has far out paced the treatment of disease, Dr. Wentz decided to
develop a product that would build up the individuals own immune system so that he would
not be as vulnerable to infections and degenerative diseases. Dr. Wentz used his expertise
in the sophisticated science of cellular nutrition to develop the most unique and
effective nutritional products on the market today.
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Articles tirés du journal Santé & Liberté.