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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 USANA products.

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 year.

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. Cliquez ici.