A Dundalk scientist is using his diagnoses with MS as a child and a lifetime of nutritional research to launch a new immunity plant product for the Irish market
Conor’s quest for nutritional knowledge comes from his experiences of suffering with MS as a child. After waking one morning with a strange sensation along his entire left hand side, he was put under the microscope in the Dublin Hospital. ‘Over a period of 2 weeks I slept for 15-20 hours each day – my physical strength was gone to the point where I had almost total paralysis on one side. I initially received five days of high dose steroids and three further treatments over the next eight months and only then diagnosed with the little understood autoimmune disease MS, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the brain and nerves. Never once did the doctors discuss lifestyle or diet changes.
‘I immediately adopted a whole food, plant – based diet and began to think about nutrition little different. I believe that nutrition plays an important role in my own MS and MS in general. 15 years from my first symptoms, not only am I walking, unaided, play sports and maintain a hectic lifestyle – and the science continues to support this opinion.
And now with a PhD in Human Nutrition, numerous published articles in scientific/medical journals and regular presentations at conferences worldwide Conor is using his quest for nutritional knowledge to launch plant based products to the market.
Not that Conor didn’t have his setbacks. The outbreak of COVID-19 put a lot of things on hold this year. While he had initially planned to launch the company with products aimed at helping to reduce blood pressure and blood sugars, he quickly looked for an alternative when the outbreak of COVID-19 interfered with clinical trial plans. For Conor it meant postponing the launch of a nutritional product Phytaphix, which was due to take place in Spring 2020. However, rather than being defeated by that he began developing a new product to help boost the immune system, which has just come to the market.
‘COVID-19 changed everything for me and the entire world,’ says Conor who is also the only Irish finalist in the global Emerging Technologies competition of the Royal Society of Chemistry, which took place at the end of September. ‘I didn’t know whether the delay would be for a month, a year, or even more, so I decided to look at the area of immune health instead,’ he explains.
‘I’ve always had an interest in this because of having MS and asthma, and since March I have worked very hard to develop a product which will help the immune system.’ While he had initially planned to launch the company with products aimed at helping to reduce blood pressure and blood sugars, he quickly looked for an alternative when the outbreak of COVID-19 interfered with clinical trial plans.
He first became interested in the role which food and nutrition plays in health after he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis as a sixteen year old schoolboy. After his early diagnosis with MS, Conor began reading up on how diet can be used to help control certain medical conditions and went to Trinity College Dublin after his Leaving Cert, studying human nutrition and dietetics, before completing his clinical doctorate in Human Nutrition at Connolly Hospital with the School of Medicine and Medical Science at University College Dublin.
This launched him on a career of scientific research as he believes that diet and nutrition can play a major role in controlling many illnesses including MS, diabetes and high blood pressure.
‘Immune Phix is specifically formulated to support the immune system,’ he says. The plant-based product, which is available as a pleasant tasting powder is suitable for children and adults , contains Vitamins B12 C, D along with essential antioxidant trace elements magnesium, selenium and zinc . Unique to this product is the high amount of plant base antioxidants and other nutrients which are often lacking in modern diets as well as other nutrition products.
‘We get as many of the ingredients as we can from Ireland, such as Irish mushroom and marine minerals from the Irish Sea. Other ingredients, such as the berries and cherries which give it a pleasant flavour,’ are imported’,’ says Dr. Kerley. ‘Immune Phix is designed to give people a powerful dose of vitamins and other important nutrients to really help support all round immune health based on science. We’ve designed it to be as powerful as possible so you only need a teaspoon of the powder to get all this nutrition which is really good for anyone who isn’t eating enough fruit and veg – which is most people’
He believes that supporting our immune systems will be particularly important this coming winter, as people will want to avoid colds and ‘flu, not to mention the novel coronavirus. ‘I think it would be very appropriate for older adults, those with underlying conditions, those struggling with their weight as well as anyone dealing with the public, from doctors and nurses to supermarket workers, to add it to their daily diet.’
Eventually, Conor would like to expand his nutritional range to offer powders targeting a number of needs, such as brain health, blood sugar control, energy and sleep.
Immune Phix is manufactured and packaged in Ireland in fully recyclable materials and is available to purchase online, through www.phytaphix.ie and Phytaphix’s social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or by contacting Dr. Kerley directly on 083 145 8796 or via LinkedIn.
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Flavonoids are nutrients that have been scientific demonstrated to reduce infection risk. A serving of Immune Phix contains the same amount of flavonoids as how many bananas?
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