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NutraIngredients featured Phytaphix in an article titled:
An award-winning nutrition research who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) aged 15 has taken inspiration from his life's research and personal experience to create a polyphenol-packed plant powder brand called Phytaphix.
In the Christmas holidays of 2002, a young and athletic Conor Kerley woke with a strange sensation along his entire left hand side. At first he put it down to his previous day's exercise but his physical state quickly deteriorated over the following days and he ended up under the microscope in a Dublin Hospital, receiving multiple scans and tests.
'Over the next two weeks I slept for 15-20 hours per day. My physical strength was gone to the point where I had almost total paralysis on one side'.
During my two week state, I received five days of high dose steroids and multiple other examination. Upon discharge I was referred for extensive rehabilitation therapy, including physiotherapy and speech therapy.'
I had to relearn how to walk, how to tie my shoe laces - everything. I thought I was going to die!.'
He had three major relapses over the next eight months, was treated with steroids each time, and was eventually diagnosed with the poorly understood autoimmune disease MS, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the brain and nerves.
His doctors put him on injectable medications (interferons) three times per week which caused terrible side effects, including sore muscles, poor sleep, and flu-like symptoms. The doctors never discussed lifestyle of diet changes.
This led him on his quest for nutrition knowledge.
There were very few studies into how diet might affect autoimmunity back when he first started looking for answers but he did find some research which was consistent.
'I immediately adopted a whole food, plant-based diet and began to think about nutrition a little different' he says.
Since then, he has completed a PhD in Human Nutrition at the School of Medicine and Medical Science at University College, Dublin, published 15 articles in scientific/medical journals, presented his results at conferences worldwide, won numerous prestigious national and international prizes.
What's more, he is symptom-free, relapse-free, medication-free and still playing several sports.
'MS is a chronic, degenerative disease. This means it is incurable and gets worse over time. It is estimated that only 50% of those with MS will be walking unaided in 15 years following diseases. 15 years from my first symptoms, not only am I walking, unaided, I play sports, life weights and maintain a hectic lifestyle.'
'Since 2003, I've had no symptoms, no relapses and no medications. I believe that nutrition plays an important role in my own MS and MS in general. The science continues to support this opinion with new studies observing a detrimental effects of high fat meats and dairy products, while other studies support the benefit of a whole foods, plant-based diet.'
After many years of researching the benefits of plant and feeling the benefits fro himself, Dr. Kerley has founded Phytaphix, set to launch next month (October), selling a 'powerful' nutrient-packed powder which can easily be added to food and drink or example water, milk, a smoothie, yogurt, porridge, or oatmeal.
On teaspoon of the berry flavoured powder contains:
- 255 mg of vitamin C, the same amount as 13 fresh tangerines
- 300 mcg of vitamin D3, the same amount as five glasses of milk
- 5 mcg of vitamin B12, the same amount as 250 g of sirloin beef
- 8 mg of zinc, the same amount as 75 Brazil nuts
- 116 mg of magnesium, the same amount as 30 prunes
- 100 mcg of selenium, the same amount as 2,500 sunflower seeds
- the same antioxidant score (ORAC) as five large carrots
- the same amount of ECG flavonoids as in 15,000 banana
In addition to fruit powders and mushroom power, Immune Phix contains flavonoids from whole, organic, Japanese Matcha green tea.
'We've designed it to be as powerful as possible so you only need a teaspoon of the power to get all of this nutrition which is really good for anyone who isn't eating enough fruit and veg - which is most people, explains the doctor.
'A lot of the ingredients are the kind of things you can find in places like Holland & Barrett, but to get the dosage level we offer in this product you would need to take 10-20 capsules.'
'We believe many people can increase their intake of flavonoids by 50% from one teaspoon of this powder.'
'We hear a lot about the importance of vitamin C and D for immune support but we don't hear so much about the importance of flavonoids - the two together are a really powerful combination.'
'It is also a great addition to the diet for anyone prone to respiratory issues, anyone on the front-line in healthcare, anyone who is regularly in close contact with members of the public, and anyone with an auto-immune disease.'
Dr. Kerley has received EFSA approval for three claims for the Immune Phix product:
- vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, selenium and zinc contribute to the normal function of the immune system
- vitamin C, selenium and zinc contribute to the protection of cells from oxidative stress
- vitamin B12, vitamin C and magnesium contribute to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue
Eventually, he would like to expand his nutrition range to offer powders targeting a number of needs, such as brain health, blood sugar control, energy, and sleep.
Phytaphix use a moderate dose of vegan vitamin D3 with a highly bioavailable magnesium from an Irish Sea mineral complex, Kerley says, in-keeping with the findings from his own research.
'Magnesium is a well known co-factor in vitamin D metabolism, including 25-hydroxylase, binding to vitamin D binding protein and 1-α-hydroxlylase . In 2019, I collaborated with Professor Adrian Martineau on a widely cited meta-analysis for vitamin D and acute respiratory tract infections.'
'In 2020, with colleagues at Connolly Hospital, Dublin we found that COVIOD-19 patients who progressed to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) had significantly lower vitamin D levels than COVID-19 patients who did not progress to ARDS. I also designed, conducted and published 3 vitamin D RCTs in Dublin'.
Explaining the scientific backing for the efficacy of a fruit power supplement, Kerley explains that double-blind, randomised, controlled trials have demonstrated that fruit powers can significantly reduce number of days with respiratory tract symptoms, as well as inflammation markers and DNA damage while increasing T cells (play a central role in the immune response) and antioxidant capacity in conjunction with increased plasma vitamin C and carotenoids (beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein).
Specifically, a 2019 meta-analysis reported that supplementation with elderberry substantially reduced upper respiratory symptoms from influenza and common cold. Similarly, a 2020 review of clinical studies reported that elderberry: 'may reduced influenza-type symptoms, including fever, headache, nasal congestion and nasal mucous discharge in adults' and 'most adult participants experience significant symptom reduction, by an average of 50%.'
In a randomised, controlled study cherry consumption before and after running a marathon decreased inflammation and completely prevented upper respiratory tract symptoms, whereas 50% of runners in the placebo group experience symptoms.
Dr. Kerley adds: It is likely that the effects of fruit powders are due to high content of antioxidants and phytonutrients including carotenoids, polyphenols, flavonoids) which are lacking in most modern diets and most dietary supplements'.