At last year’s International Convention, USANA introduced the concept of influencing cell signaling through nutrition and the impact that has, and will have, on USANA going forward. The new products released at that time and the science that goes into them reinforced our goal to improve health at the cellular level. After all, USANA is The Cellular Nutrition Company, and this impacts nearly everything we do here.
And this is why senior marketing manager Camille Fletcher and I wanted to sit down with USANA Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Rob Sinnott and talk about cell signaling, cellular health, and how USANA InCelligence Technology® fits into the future of nutritionals.
What exactly is cell signaling?
Your body has both a chemical system and an electrical system (aka, the nervous system), and, simply put, cell signaling is the way your cells communicate with each other through chemical messengers within your body.
If your brain needs to communicate with your stomach, which it does when your stomach tells your brain that you’re full, it does it through chemical signals.
If you smell something, that scent is a molecule in the air that is interacting with a receptor in your nose. Your body is always using cells, which act as both the receptors and messengers, to sense and respond to the environment in and around you.
There’s not a single system in your body that you cannot support through cell signaling.
How does cell signaling change as a cell ages?
When a cell is brand new, it functions very efficiently, but the older a cell gets or the more stress it’s under from external factors, the energy-producing mechanisms—called mitochondria—actually start running less efficiently and start producing a whole lot more pollution than they did before.
This pollution is in the form of things like free radicals. These pollutant molecules basically start punching holes through your cells, causing them to leak. In a lot of cases, it actually leads to compounds that are toxic to your body.
As your body gets older, the cells that don’t divide and renew themselves tend to get less sensitive to signals. Although this is a natural process that happens as we age, cell-signaling can help positively support the normal, healthy lifecycle of a cell.
How does USANA InCelligence Technology® assist cell-signaling pathways?
If cell communication breaks down, it can prevent the right signals from getting through, it can send the wrong signals, or it can prevent cells from responding at all.
Using a car engine analogy, if a check light indicator comes up on your dashboard, you may not know what it is, but something has gone wrong. The same thing happens in your body if you’re not getting the right cell-signaling compounds and nutrients. Warning lights could go off in your body saying something is wrong and things will not function properly.
InCelligence supports normal cellular communication by promoting healthy signals in our body and proactively activating healthy responses using a specific combination of nutrients. And the cool thing about these natural compounds that we’re using—like resveratrol, turmeric, broccoli, beta glucans, and quercetin—is that your body can easily regulate those. You’re putting nutrients into your body that you’re already used to getting with your diet. So your body can activate them or deactivate them as it sees fit.*
For example, with flavonoids like the quercetin that you get with your diet—if you put more in your diet than your body needs, it will simply attach a sugar molecule to it and inactivate it. It can actually flip that switch off. So providing these nutrients, these plant-based signaling molecules to the body doesn’t overwhelm the body. The body can actually override it if it wants to. You’re just making sure you’ve got the right signal, but your body can choose to ignore the signal if it needs to.
InCelligence is not a shotgun approach of just putting some nutrient in your body and hoping it has a beneficial effect. The InCelligence compounds that were chosen for the CellSentials, for example, were chosen because they target specific pathways we were interested in affecting. Things that have to do with cell protection and renewal are the ones we were trying to hit in this first edition of InCelligence Technology.*
How is this approach with InCelligence and the CellSentials™ different from what USANA has done in the past?
USANA has always been on the cutting edge. Something I’ve always admired about Dr. Wentz is he always catches on to things at a very early stage before the rest of the nutritional community really catches on. He’ll be there first and he’ll do really well. You’ve had vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and now you’ve got cell-signaling compounds.
This third generation of USANA products is an area outside of classical nutrition because the compounds we’re using are all over the board. We’re using things like quercetin, which is a flavonoid from plants. We’re using that because it happens to be a powerful cell-signaling compound. We’re using things like lipoic acid, which is very rare in the diet but is a very powerful cell-signaling compound.*
So this whole area of cell signaling is the next chapter of nutrition. People are just figuring out how to apply this to human nutrition. But, again, USANA is one of those leaders. We figured it out early on. We actually have products out there and have done research on how it works in people and how it can benefit them with their health.
InCelligence Technology is still in its infancy, and I’m going to work with our top-notch R&D team to take it from where it is now. Because I get it. I totally get what we can do with this, and I’m going to make sure we maximize the full potential of cell signaling for our customers.
What is the goal of these new nutritional technologies?
If we were all living under ideal conditions, the foods we eat will provide us with most of the nutrition and all the positive cell-signaling compounds we need. But there’s often a pretty big gap between the ideal condition and what our modern diet might be.
So our goal is to fill in that gap with our supplements, making sure you’re getting the proper quantities of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and things like that.
But we recognize there’s more to life than that. And so that’s why we supplement, to minimize the gap between what we should eat and what we do eat.
What I would expect people to experience from products made with USANA InCelligence Technology is improvements in holistic markers. A well-designed nutritional will support multiple body systems, and when you’re creating an ideal condition for your body to grow and renew, you’re going to experience a lot of beneficial things. It’s not going to be just one experience. This is going to be particularly true with people who have never supplemented in their life before. I think these people are going to feel some really amazing results with InCelligence.*
Other than taking our CellSentials, how can we positively support our cells?
You can incorporate things like eating a healthy diet and exercising. If you put in a moderate amount of exercise, you can greatly support your health and the natural lifecycle of your cells. Exercise triggers normal healthy processes that tell your body to begin repairing itself.
But it’s critical to also eat a healthy diet because when your body is repairing, it’s looking for good stuff to rebuild your cells with. If you don’t eat a healthy diet and provide your body the wrong fuel, you could actually be damaging the integrity of your cells.
A diet with lots of processed foods and insufficient nutrients makes it so your body can’t get the support it needs to do the proper repairs. And a lot of times, your body will try to find a substitute, like a saturated fatty acid or something unhealthy, that can damage your cellular health in the long run.
Our bodies are designed to operate better on a more paleo type of diet—one rich in natural plant compounds, antioxidants, and grains that are slow to digest.
It goes back to the car analogy. If you put all the right things into that car—like super premium gasoline or synthetic motor oil—it will pretty much last forever if you keep the maintenance up.
USANA InCelligence Technology and CellSentials are just the first steps in promoting great health through activating processes in our bodies by targeting cell signaling pathways with nutrients.* And so far, it’s been a major hit.
Now, Dr. Sinnott, along with USANA’s R&D department, can’t wait to continue exploring the possibilities of InCelligence.
“There are hundreds of things we can do with cell signaling,” Dr. Sinnott says. “We are just getting started. I’m so excited about the potential we have.”