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Irradiated Food and Free Radicals

Updated on August 17, 2016

Part One

A YouTube video was posted in my Facebook Group, "Rational Scientific Method.”

"Radiation & Your Food, Irradiated Food Risk, Wake Up America"

Note that the title invokes radiation as though food irradiation is dangerous to you. It’s not. The idea of harmful radiation (at these levels) is not necessary to discuss, and once the source of radiation is removed there is no radiation remaining in the food.

Radiation was not taken into consideration in the video directly. We are just told that it creates free radicals which destroy anti-oxidants and vitamins. It doesn’t, not significantly. It’s not something we should be concerned about. Note the flag behind the two Nutritional "Experts." They are on some committee providing their expertise to Obama. So forget about unbiased presentation on the subject, and forget all that hand waving and unsubstantiated nonsense.

None-the-less, let's talk about free radicals and antioxidants and the claims made in the video:

1) "The apple doesn't rot because it's "dead food.""

Irradiation does not kill all the bacteria, but it does kill a significant amount extending the shelf life of the food and THAT'S A GOOD THING.

2) Next, a great deal of time is wasted talking about free radical damage, and o1 and o2 molecules. An o2 molecule is an antioxidant, an o1 molecule is a free radical (at least one of its atoms has been stripped of an electron). Really? which atomic model are they referring to, I wonder. I wonder if they wonder... At any rate, @4:15 we are asked, "See the problem with irradiated food?"

No, I don't. Where is the link between "dead food" and lack of antioxidants?

3) Next we are told that free radicals bounce around damaging vitamins and enzymes, combining with existing chemicals such as pesticides, and creating new chemicals called URPs.

Free radicals interacting with antioxidant molecules makes BOTH inactive. There is no domino effect as claimed.

4) "Irradiating foods kills from 5% to 80% of vitamins and enzymes in the food."

Not according to MY sources. Where did you get yours? Irradiating food does damage a negligible amount of vitamins, but the trade off of less toxic food is worth the slightly less nutritional food.

Bacteria produce toxins. Less bacteria, less toxins. It's a good thing. Traditional cooking and freezing destroys far more vitamins, and one can easily tell when a food has been frozen or cooked. It takes sensitive lab equipment to tell if something has been irradiated.

Preserving, like your grandma used to do with canning, destroys far more vitamins than irradiation.

Irradiation does not destroy metabolic enzymes. Proteins, carbs, and FATS are not damaged.

These nudniks are referring to something called 2ACBs which have been isolated, irradiated, and claimed carcinogenic. This is irrelevant to irradiated foods that haven't had their fats isolated.

5) The claim that irradiation makes food producers less likely to use hygienic practices is nuts! Irradiation is part of the goal for SAFER foods! It's just one MORE process.

6) Finally, the political motivation of the AMA, FDA, WHO, etc. is irrelevant to the claims made in the video. It's just more hand waving (and flag waving) which is itself politically motivated. And BTW, the health food/nutritional folks/anti-oxidant manufacturers are equally motivated by money, so let's just concentrate on the science and leave the politics out....

What is a free radical?

Free radicals are atoms (or a group of atoms - molecules) with unpaired electrons in their outermost shell, or orbital. Whether or not free electrons are part of the equation at all depends on the atomic model one uses, but we’ll accept the assumption that electrons can leave their orbitals, and can be shared with other atoms…for now. Radicals are formed in our bodies from oxygen atoms as a normal biochemical reaction. These types of free radicals (a totally unnecessary term) are collectively known as reactive oxygen species (ROS). We are oxygen breathers and oxidation is necessary for metabolizing food, as well as other processes. Radicals are produced by phagocytes to kill toxins. Oxygen radicals are also used by cells for signaling within and between other cells, and radicals also function as mitogens which are involved in cell proliferation and DNA replication.

How do free radicals do damage?

Since free radicals are unstable they look for the nearest molecule whose atoms are willing to share their outer shell. When this molecule looses its electron to the free radical it then becomes a free radical starting a chain reaction which can eventually disrupt the cell it is part of. This results in disease and is the main mechanism behind pre-mature aging. So we are told.

How do antioxidants help?

Antioxidants counter free radical damage by giving up one of its electrons. The chain reaction does not take place because antioxidants are somehow stable with or without that electron. So, antioxidants run around your cells scavenging free radicals, preventing cell damage and resulting disease. So we are told.

What are the best antioxidants?

Vitamin E and C. Vitamin E is fat soluble, vitamin C is water-soluble and the most abundant therefore readily available in the human body. C assists E after it has scavenged a free radical by helping it to return to its former glory. So we are told.

How do we get the antioxidants?

We can eat 5-8 servings of fruit and veggies per day, and/or take supplements. Our bodies also produce anti-oxidants.

How can we detect free radicals?

Free radicals can not be directly observed, and therefore tested for, so nutritionists look for by-products. AND where do they find these by-products? In the blood. Serum levels do NOT tell us what is happening on the cellular level. There is at east one company that tests your urine for something called MDA, a supposed by-product of “the process of free radical production.” Many researchers currently prefer to “detect” free radicals using Electron Spin Resonance (ESR), but this is not sensitive enough for cell studies and can not locate sub-cellular free radicals. ESR only detects a limited number of free radicals in vivo. Actually, since the radicals are short-lived, you can’t directly detect any single radicals with this method. They are looking for concentrations of more stable by-products such as superoxide anion, peroxides, and hydroxyl. This device also can not detect DNA-derived free radicals unless generated by radiation or chemical means.

Besides normal biochemical reactions, what are some other causes of free radicals?

UV from the sun.

Great, as long as you don’t go outside, exercise, or go to your doctor, you’ll limit your exposure to these externally derived free rads!

BUT WAIT! There’s hope after all! The latest research shows quite the opposite of what we have been told about free radicals and aging.

Continued, Part Two, History of Supplemental Antioxidants


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