Choose a “peace zone” in your home — My wife and I agreed that one room in our house (our bedroom) was a peace zone. No arguments, no stressful discussions, no political discussions, no negative discussions of any type are allowed there at any time. This is a great way to assure that you can always have a place of peace in your house. Of course, once in a while we have to remind each other if one of us forgets, but that’s okay too. Best idea ever!
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gene Bruno.
Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH(AHG) possesses 42 years of dietary supplement industry experience. With a Master’s degree in nutrition and a second Master’s degree in herbal medicine, he has a proven track record of formulating innovative, evidence-based dietary supplements. Mr. Bruno currently serves as both the Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs at Twinlab Consolidation Corporation and Professor of Nutraceutical Science at Huntington University of Health Sciences.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
Back in the 1950s (before I was born), my grandmother had cancer. At that time there was no radiation or chemotherapy, just surgery to cut out the tumor. She had surgery a few times, but the cancer kept growing back, so they told her she had 6 months to live, and that she should put her affairs in order. Instead, she sought the services of an M.D. named Max Gerson who had a therapy he was using with cancer patients, including detoxification, juicing, a healthy diet and supplementation. To make a long story short, my grandmother didn’t die from cancer. Instead, her tumors disappeared, and she got well. I was born in 1960 and had the pleasure of getting to know my grandmother. As I got older, I was fascinated with her story and decided I wanted to learn more about how nutrition and natural medicine could have a positive impact on health, fitness and wellness. That’s how I got into this business.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
That’s a tall order, considering I’ve been in the business for 42 years, but perhaps I’ll tell you about the first story that made me know I made the right decision. When I was in my early 20’s I was managing a vitamin store. A woman came in and told me that her grandmother was dying from canker sores. I was confused because, although inconvenient, canker sores aren’t lethal. However, the woman explained that her grandmother’s canker sores had existed for years and made it painful for her to eat and drink. As a result, she was getting thinner and weaker. After asking a few questions, I recommended a probiotic product and folic acid since both had been shown to help with canker sores in some cases. A month later the woman came back into the store and, to my surprise, gave me a big hug. She said that her grandmother’s canker sores were gone, she was eating and drinking normally again, and that I had saved her life. The emotional high I got from that experience made it clear to me that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. I wanted to help people feel better through the use of dietary supplements.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
When I was young, I was very enthusiastic about all of the science I was learning about dietary supplements, and I wanted to share that information with everyone. One day, a customer walked into the vitamin store where I was working and began browsing. She pointed to a bottle of the amino acid L-Phenylalanine on the shelf and asked, “What is that good for?” Excitedly I replied, “That’s the amino acid L-Phenylalanine. It’s converted in your body into norepinenphine and dopamine which are excitatory neurotransmitters which play multiple roles in the body including the modulation of cognitive function.” The customer looked at me like I had lobsters growing out of my ears. She clearly had not understood a single thing I had said. So I paused, and then said, “It’s a natural substance found in protein, and it helps you to feel more mentally alert.” That explanation resonated with her, and she actually bought the product. That incident made me realize that sharing my knowledge with a customer was meaningless if the customer didn’t walk away from the experience having learned something. Since then, I’ve always tried to make explain myself in a way that the layperson can understand.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
I’ve had 42 years of experience working in the dietary supplement industry and academia. I have undergraduate and graduate degrees in nutrition, as well as a graduate diploma and second master’s degree in herbal medicine. I’m also a certified nutritionist, registered herbalist and professor of nutraceutical science at Huntington University of Health Sciences — where I have taught doctors, nurses and pharmacists about integrative healthcare. I don’t rest on my laurels, but rather spend several hours every month reading new scientific studies on nutraceuticals, nutrition and healthcare in order to stay current with the state of the science. I write extensively on these topics, as well as teach about them, and I’ve participated in quite a number of human clinical trials studying nutraceutical science, health and fitness. Over the years, I’ve formulated hundreds of evidence-based dietary supplements, including fitness, health and wellness products.
My unique contribution to the world of wellness includes my ability and experience in formulating, writing and teaching about dietary supplements and the role they can play in health, fitness and wellness. More specifically, I am an advocate of — and have spoken and written extensively about — using clinically relevant dosing in the formulation of dietary supplements. In other words, I think it is very important to develop formulas using nutraceuticals at the correct doses shown to be effective in human clinical research. For example, if a study shows that 300 mg of specific herbal extract is effective at improving memory, then that’s the amount that should be used in a formula — not 100 mg or 50 mg or 5 mg. Such ineffectual dosing is a practice called “fairy dusting”, meaning just adding a little bit of a nutraceutical in the assumption assuming that consumers won’t know the difference, and then still making claims that the product will have the desired effect. It’s great for profit margins, but terrible for product efficacy. I despise this deceptive practice and I make sure that it never happens with my formulations.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I little over 30 years ago, I went to work for Mel Rich, the president of Phoenix Laboratories, a contract manufacturer of dietary supplements based in New York. Mel appreciated my knowledge and enthusiasm and made it a point to support my educational endeavors, paying the tuition for both my graduate diploma and master’s degree in herbal medicine. Mel has since passed away and Phoenix Laboratories no longer exists, but I will always be grateful to him for helping me to further my knowledge base and educational credentials.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
- Making excuses — There are always reasons not to do something that you know you should do. Don’t look for those reasons. Don’t accept those reasons. Instead, look for the reasons why you can do what you know you need to do. Make sure your attitude is consistent with your goals.
- Lack of scheduling — This is particularly a problem for exercise. Make sure to schedule time to exercise when you are most likely to do it. For me, that means first thing in the morning since I know that I have family obligations in the evening — but what ever time works for you to consistently do what you need to do.
- Not getting sufficient sleep — If you don’t get sufficient sleep you it will affect your performance, your energy, your motivation and your appetite. Don’t stay up too late! Get to bed at a reasonable hour and do it consistently every night.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)
- Don’t run out of your supplements — I’m better at most in taking my supplements regularly, but sometimes I run out of one or more of my supplements and allow time to lapse before purchasing them again. Then my energy levels start declining and I feel tired and fatigued. That’s when I start to realize that I shouldn’t have run out of my supplements. As soon as I get my replacement supplements and start taking them again, I always feel better.
- Don’t go crazy on the weekends — While I think that its perfectly okay to deviate from your healthy diet a little bit on the weekends, don’t be excessive about it. If you decide that you’re going to eat anything you want on Saturday and Sunday, that means that 29% of the time your eating a poor diet. Instead, choose a single meal as your cheat meal, not every meal for two days. The same goes for drinking. You can have a couple of drinks and still enjoy yourself without drinking to excess and getting a hangover (and making your liver unhappy)
- Keep some balance in your life — When we get really busy professionally or personally, we tend to sacrifice something that we enjoy but consider non-essential. However, that thing that we really enjoy actually IS essential since it brings balance into our life. For me it was audiobooks. I just didn’t have time to listen to them, but decided it was important to make time. Then I figured out (duh) that I could listen to an audiobook during my 30-minute aerobic walk in the morning when I typically reviewed my emails on my phone. Making this change made me a happier person. Make time to bring balance into your life.
- Figure out how to eat more vegetables — Increasing our intake of vegetables is probably the single most important dietary practice we can adopt, but after a while you’ll get bored just eating salads. Search the internet for vegetable recipes that are easy to make and delicious to eat. If you do this one simple thing, it will change your life for the better.
- Choose a “peace zone” in your home — My wife and I agreed that one room in our house (our bedroom) was a peace zone. No arguments, no stressful discussions, no political discussions, no negative discussions of any type are allowed there at any time. This is a great way to assure that you can always have a place of peace in your house. Of course, once in a while we have to remind each other if one of us forgets, but that’s okay too. Best idea ever!
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
- Improves mood — Exercise stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier, more relaxed and less anxious
- Improves overall health — Exercise can help prevent or manage various health problems including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and arthritis. In fact, swimming is the magic activity that effectively manages my wife’s osteoarthritis.
- Improves sex life — Regular exercise may enhance arousal for women and make men less likely to have issues with erectile dysfunction, compared to men who don’t exercise.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
- Some type of aerobic exercise — At its simplest, this can just be brisk walking. It can also be swimming, dancing and hiking, none of which require the use of exercise equipment — although you can certainly use a treadmill, stationary bike, etc.
- Lunge — This is a good compound exercise using muscles in your abdominals, back, gluteus, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. However, older people may have difficulty with this exercise
- Pushup — This is another good compound exercise using muscle in your chest, shoulders, triceps and abdominals.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
Years ago the book Fit or Fat by Covert Bailey, PhD give me an excellent understanding about how exercise — especially aerobic exercise — has such a powerful impact on health and weight control. After reading that book. I begin integrating aerobic exercise (as brisk walking) into my daily life. Over the course of a year, I lost 75 lbs and felt so much better.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If I could get everyone to start taking three dietary supplements, I’m certain that America would be a healthier nation. Here are the three supplements, along with my reason for choosing them:
- Multivitamin — According to the USDA, only 10% of Americans eat and good diet, and virtually everyone falls short of obtaining sufficient amounts of a few key vitamins and minerals. A good multivitamin provides a nutritional insurance policy, helping to assure adequate of several vital nutrients. If the multivitamin has a good dose in B vitamins, it will also tend to improve energy levels and help you handle your stress better.
- Vitamin D — Outright vitamin D deficiency is present in 41.6% of the U.S. population, while vitamin D insufficiency (i.e. lacking sufficient vitamin D) is present in 77% of the population. Considering vitamin D’s role in immune health, bone heath and several other areas of health and wellness, this is a big problem that could be vastly improved by the daily use of a supplement providing 2,000–5,000 IU (50–125 mcg) of vitamin D daily.
- Omega-3 fatty acids — While human beings evolved on a diet with approximately a 1:1 ratio of omega-6 (typically found in vegetable oils) to omega-3 fatty acids (typically found in fish), the current Western diet provides about a 16:1 ratio. This is a problem since omega-6 fatty acids tend to be pro-inflammatory while omega-3 fatty acids tend to be anti-inflammatory. Furthermore, Harvard School of Public Health study has indicated that omega-3 deficiency causes 96,000 U.S. deaths per year, so I recommend that everyone get at least 600 mg of omega-3 fatty acids daily.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
Professor Joseph Campbell write a book and did a PBS series called The Power of Myth. In it, he made this recommendation, “Follow your bliss.” He elaborated, saying:
“Follow your bliss. If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”
I have found this advice to be sound. I have followed it and it has worked for me.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
President Biden. I’d like to explain to him the important role that the right dietary supplements can play in the health and wellness of America.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
I do podcasts and write articles that appear on nutrasciencelabs.com.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!
Gene Bruno of NutraScience Labs: 5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Can Dramatically Improve Your Wellbeing was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.