Antioxidants and Free Radicals, Part Three: Free-the-Radicals
Continued from: http://hubpages.com/health/History-of-Supplemental-Antioxidants
Free Radicals are necessary for breathing. Mitochondria need them. Free radicals are essential as neurotransmitters and vasodialators, and they are signaling molecules telling cells to repair themselves. We also need the stress of free radicals to trigger our bodies to fight infectious disease. We use free radicals to regulate our cardiovascular system. Free radicals respond to toxins by alerting cellular defenses, and they also attack pathogens like bacteria. Our bodies have evolved defense mechanisms allowing us to survive harsh environments, be they external or internal, but these mechanisms are not activated unless challenged. Enter the free radical.
Let’s look at some of what researchers have learned over the course of the last couple of decades:
- One can not reproduce the benefits of a healthy diet by taking supplements and purified extracts. When an unhealthy person, or one who smokes or drinks adds mega-doses of supplements to their diet, the antioxidants become pro-oxidants jacking up levels of free radicals. Have you ever heard “too much of a good thing?”
- Persons that supplement and appear to be healthier likely live healthier lifestyles to begin with.
- The reason there is a correlation between aging and free radical production is because the mitochondria is reacting to the stress of aging by producing free radicals.
- Here’s another clue: tea and coffee are considered two of the best dietary antioxidants we can consume. Guess what? They are chock full of ROS.
- A big part of the benefit of exercise comes from small increases in ROS.
- Biochemists note that there are 8 forms of vitamin E which are good antioxidants in test tubes, but the body only uses alpha tocopherol and the rest are excreted. The body excretes hundreds of antioxidants better than E so clearly whatever it does for us it is not as an antioxidant!
- Polyphenols, like resveratrol, are also great in a test tube but don’t last long enough in the blood stream to do any good.
- There are thousands of antioxidant molecules like vitamins, flavinoids, and polyphenols. Some are good at fighting specific free radicals. Some only work in a specific context or a specific part of a cell. They work together synergistically.
- Since plants produce antioxidants to fight off harmful sun rays and their natural predators, all plants have them. So do animals and animal products because animals eat plants, and also have their own natural defenses.
- Minerals and enzymes are also antioxidants. In fact, there are more of them than there are vitamins. We should be spending more time studying minerals which aid in the production of enzymes, and the uptake and metabolism of nutrients, but that’s another topic all together.
It Isn’t Nice to Fool With Mother Nature!
We’ve seen experimental evidence showing that supplemental antioxidants can work to neutralize these defense mechanisms, resulting in loss of muscle strength, liver damage, cancer metastases, increased risk of prostate cancer, and higher rates of mortality. What we have not seen is that supplements extend our lives.
But do we really need the U.S Department of Agriculture, The European Food Safety Authority, Consumer Reports, Reader’s Digest, Nobel Laureate James Watson (formerly of Watson and Crick), Doctors, nutritionists, physiologists, researchers, experiments, proof, and evidence to understand we evolved over a great deal of time to use oxygen in our metabolizing and that our bodies are well equipped to deal with oxidants? We can consider this rationally, conceptually.
Why should healthy persons supplement when they already have antioxidants that are more powerful than any pill, potion, or poultice? Thanks to Mother Nature, our bodies have developed the natural ability to reach homeostasis, that is, a healthy balance. This includes redox balance. Endogenous antioxidants do their job just fine with only a little help from exogenous sources (from our food). In other words, our bodies are very well equipped to keep the Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) in balance. If we needed more antioxidants our bodies would make them.
Have you ever heard the saying, “Hair of the dog that bit you?” or, “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger?” How about, “no pain no gain?” There’s even a theory behind this idea. It is called hormesis. There is a beneficial effect to small doses of what might otherwise harm or kill you in higher doses. We have greater tolerance to stress (called eustress), our health improves, and we live longer. AND there’s another beneficial effect: growth.
There’s another saying that can be applied here: Ever heard the old axiom, “Use it or loose it?” Taking supplements throws the body's balance off, and worse, it can become reliant on more and more external sources for these antioxidants.
So what to take away from all of this:
We can see that it is easy to play around with biochemistry and upset the body’s natural balance. For healthy persons, just the right amount of minerals and vitamins from fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats is what a body needs. What’s just the right amount? Well one size does not fit all! Every”body” is different in their requirements and yours will tell you what that is. If you are not in tune with your natural cravings for sunshine, fresh air, exercise and healthy foods, then have a hair analysis done. One can not accurately determine one’s deficiencies from a serum (blood) analysis. You need to know what’s gong on at the cellular level. If you wish to live a long healthy life, don’t expect to achieve that by doing the same things you’ve always done, because if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten. You sure can’t expect to live longer by simply adding megadoses of vitamins, antioxidants, and food to your diet.
From unfounded to ungrounded:
Here's a company offering a urine analysis on line:
”Immune stimulating homeopathic and herbal combinations should be taken until an optimum level of free radical activity is detected by the Free Radical Test. Antioxidants should not be taken if no free radical activity is detected by the Free Radical Test.”
I'd like to think because of me it is no longer available: Product Kit-3
Although it is a “Free Radical Test”, the test is NOT free, and it is recommended to be repeated monthly. AND anyone who recommends homeopathy should not be trusted to understand anything about science or medicine. See the chapter on Homeopathy in Rational Science, Vol. I.
MDA is a by-product of lipid peroxidation. Although it is claimed that a urine analysis for MDA is more accurate than blood analysis, it is not a result of “oxidative stress,” but a naturally occurring phenomena related to metabolism. However, a test of urine or blood levels of MDA does NOT accurately tell us what is going on inside of our cells any more than anti-oxidant activity in test tubes tells us what is going on inside our bodies.
If you think folks are quick to jump on the anti-oxidant bandwagon, you haven’t seen anything like Dr. Oschman:
Earthing as an Anti-Aging Strategy
“When you're grounded there's a transfer of free electrons from the Earth into your body. And these free electrons are probably the most potent antioxidants known to man.
“Earthing can help accomplish this delicate balance. We have this material called ground substance which is part of the connective tissue. It goes everywhere in the body. It's a gel material and it stores electrons. So that if you go barefoot, you will take in electrons and your body will store them, and they will be available at any point where you might have an injury, or any point where a free radical might form..."
Yeah, right. Here's an alternate view:
"When it comes to the science of positive and negative charge, according to many scientists, grounding is one of those fads which uses correct science to support an irrational idea.
"What is true is that;
- The Earth itself is negatively charged, with an abundance of free electrons floating through the ground.
- The atmosphere is positively charged, due to ionization by the sun’s rays.
- You cannot protect yourself from the Earth’s electrical field: it’s flowing through the air you breathe."
NOTE: We can solve this conceptually, so why did I refer to so many experiments? Because nudnicks require experimental evidence, so I gave it to them. AND BTW, I did solve this conceptually here:
There are basically two types of oxidation, slow and fast. Rust and fire. Look at the history of oxygen, rust, and fire on our little blue marble in space, and note the importance of these processes. Mother Nature seeks balance, and among other things, uses oxidation to do this. Now consider our bodies as a miniature earth. You may likely rust out or burn out, but your body is always seeking balance, what has been termed redox balance. Provide the body with the bare essentials (exogenous antioxidants and free radicals) and it will add to it its own (endogenous) antioxidants and free radicals.