Learn about the common thread in every chronic disease & ageing – oxidative stress. How it affects both adults, and kids, how to reduce it and the little-known truth about antioxidants.
As a bit of a health nerd, I LOVE to learn about the real causes or drivers of disease and how we can actually reverse these causes. How we can undo the slow progression of chronic damage to our bodies, and restoring our health.
At Holistic Mumma we want to explore the whole picture when it comes to creating wellness. And for me this includes the biochemical drivers and understanding what’s going on at the cellular level.
There is a common thread with just about every chronic illness pattern on the planet. And that common thread is oxidative stress & free radical damage.
So what are free radicals?
Biochemically speaking, a free radical is an unpaired electron making them unstable & reactive.
It’s like a dog looking for a bone.
It is actually the oxygen molecules that we are exposed to through everyday processes in life that become free radicals. These reek havoc on our cells & damage our DNA, which can lead to mutations & cancer.
What is oxidative stress?
When the amount of free radicals exceeds our capacity to neutralize them, then we suffer from oxidative stress.
This can be due to stress/trauma, smoking, alcohol, toxic & EMR exposure. Since most people are exposed to at least some of these things in everyday life, including children, it is an extremely common issue.
Then add to the equation the fact that 50% of the population do not process toxins efficiently (MTHFR gene defects). And that we live in a society where we are surrounded by thousands of man-made chemicals every day …
Now we have a very common problem.
I used to utilize Live Blood Microscopy in my Naturopathic practise years ago, which was a useful tool for identifying this.
It always fascinated me to see the effects of oxidative stress on our red blood cell membranes. Sometimes it was quite dramatic – whole bites out of cell walls, warped shapes & mutations.
And even seemingly healthy people often had this going on.
Signs of Oxidative stress
General symptoms of oxidative stress include:
- Headaches & migraines
- Noise sensitivity
- Memory loss and brain fog
- anxiety & depression
- Muscle and joint pain
- Wrinkles and grey hair
- Vision problems
- Decreased immunity.
The Free Radical theory of Ageing
Free radicals are also associated with ageing. The free radical theory of ageing states that we age because of free radical damage over time.
Free radicals can damage the DNA’s instructional code, causing our new cells to grow incorrectly. This leads to more rapid ageing.
What are antioxidants?
Basically, they donate electrons to free radicals, therefore reducing their reactivity.
They give the dog a bone, so the dog is calm & occupied.
But interestingly, the antioxidant theory has actually been disproven. The science just does not support that antioxidants like vitamin c actually promote longevity.
Yes, oxidative damage is important to prevent but it’s not just a simple matter of taking antioxidants and avoiding things that are bad.
What is far more critical is building up your internal antioxidant defence system.
Antioxidant Response Element
The ARE (Antioxidant Response Element) system is built into the design of our cells.
Our bodies are so perfectly designed that when all is in harmony, we actually make MILLIONS of these antioxidants all by ourselves!
Fittingly, this system is naturally activated in response to mild stressors (hermetic stressors).
All hermetic stressors create a temporary metabolic stress that generates free radicals and stimulates your ARE – your internal antioxidant defence system to grow stronger and more robust.
For more about cellular health & hermetic stressors go here.
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So when we supplement with lots of synthetic antioxidants, or isolated vitamins rather than whole foods, it actually has the effect of dampening down that response.
The body thinks it doesn’t need to produce them.
So, the healthy body has a defence system of antioxidants that it efficiently produces, UNLESS those pathways have become sluggish or dormant.
One of the most important of these pathways is Nrf2 – the master regulator of the bodies defence system.
Yep, these biochemical pathways can either by hijacked or bio hacked!
What the Hack is Biohacking?
Biohacking is a newly emerging term meaning to positively influence your own biology.
Want to be the best version of yourself? This is empowering yourself by learning how you can tweak your own system to enhance your bodies functioning.
And one of the best ways to do this is by stimulating the body to produce its own antioxidants.
As you can see here, the most powerful antioxidants produced in the body are SOD (superoxide dismutase), Catalase & Glutathione.
We can supplement the bottom 4 in the diet but it’s the top 3 we need the most. And as the image indicates the dietary sources are secondary and not as effective.
You can eat TONNES of kale, blueberries & broccoli, but it is simply not going to be as effective as anything that activates the production of SOD, Catalase & Glutathione.
So we don’t need to take a bunch of pills but can support the body to activate & strengthen this itself!
How to reduce Oxidative Stress
The best things you can do to reduce oxidative stress TODAY are:
- Create a low tox life
- Stop taking synthetic &/or isolated antioxidant supplements.
- Eat a clean & whole plant-based diet.
- Biohack your antioxidant production pathways by taking 1 natural herbal tablet a day. This is an Nrf2 activator called Protandim. You can learn more about it here.
- Include hermetic stressors in your daily life which will actually tell the body to strengthen these pathways. Some ways of doing this are:
- Safe sunshine exposure
- Taking the odd cold shower or hot sauna
- Doing a 24 hour fast once a month
- Regular exercise
- Plenty of plant phytochemicals – being on a Plant-based diet & using plant medicine in your daily life, such as CBD oil & herb teas.
Oxidative Stress Science
There are over 200 chronic diseases linked in peer-reviewed scientific articles to oxidative stress.
The National library of science & medicine shows 9,923 peer-reviewed studies demonstrating almost every disease to be benefited by activating the Nrf2 pathway.
So, wouldn’t it far more efficient to treat the core biological driver/s of all of these diseases rather than using medicines to individually treat the effects of the disease?
There are actually a growing number of scientists & medical professional who believe this and are switching to this approach!
Here are a couple of examples of some of the amazing science:
Free Radical Biology and Medicine (2006)
We conclude that modest induction of the catalytic antioxidants SOD and catalase may be a much more effective approach than supplementation with antioxidants (such as vitamins C and E) that can, at best, stoichiometrically scavenge a very small fraction of total oxidant production.
Protandim® completely eliminates the usual age-related increase in cell ageing markers by decreasing the indicators of oxidative stress (TBARS) by 40% in 30 days, and by increasing cellular production of antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD) by 30% and catalase (CAT) by 54% by 120 days.
How amazing is that!? This is an all natural herbal formula!!
Free Radical Biology and Medicine (2009)
Protandim® is a supplement formulated with the objective of combining multiple phytochemicals at low non-toxic doses to gain synergy for induction of endogenous antioxidant enzymes. All components together produced a strongly synergistic induction of around three to ninefold, greatly exceeding the sum of the parts, and strongly suggesting this may be an effective method for the induction of antioxidant enzymes.
Protandim® produces a 300% increase in the cellular production of glutathione. As a key antioxidant, glutathione plays critical roles in the regenesis of other antioxidants (vitamins C and E), liver detoxification and elimination, and tissue repair. Further, Protandim® was shown to be a Nrf2 Activator. Findings show nuclear translocation of Nrf2 to the Antioxidant Response Element sites of genes on the DNA. Nrf2 then “re-tunes” the associated genes to function optimally.
Now, this is truly mind-blowing stuff! So not only are we activating these defence pathways significantly, but we are ‘re-tuning’ the genes to function optimally.
Enter the future of medicine!
To find out more about the science of this amazing herbal formula go here.
And more about optimizing cellular function go here.