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February 2010

The MMR vaccine war: Wakefield vs. ?

Wakefield proceedings: an exception?

Who's afraid of a littl' 1998 study?
 

January 2010

Antibiotic children

Physical activity benefits late-life health

Healthier life for New Year's resolution

 

December 2009

Autism epidemic worsening: CDC report

Rosuvastatin indication broadened

High-protein diet effects

 

November 2009

Folic acid cancer risk

Folic acid studies: message in a bottle?

Sweet, short life on a sugary diet

 

October 2009

Smoking health hazards: no dose-response

C. difficile warning

Asthma risk and waist size in women

 

September 2009

Antioxidants' melanoma risk: 4-fold or none?

Murky waters of vitamin D status

Is vitamin D deficiency hurting you?

 

August 2009

Pill-crushing children

New gut test for children and adults

Unhealthy habits - whistling past the graveyard?

 

July 2009

Asthma solution - between two opposites that don't attract

Light wave therapy - how does it actually work?

Hodgkin's lymphoma in children: better alternatives

 

June 2009

Hodgkin's, kids, and the abuse of power

Efficacy and safety of the conventional treatment for Hodgkin's:
behind the hype

Long-term mortality and morbidity after conventional treatments for pediatric Hodgkin's

 

May 2009

Late health effects of the toxicity of the conventional treatment for Hodgkin's

Daniel's true 5-year chances with the conventional treatment for Hodgkin's

Daniel Hauser Hodgkin's case: child protection or medical oppression?

April 2009

Protection from EMF: you're on your own

EMF pollution battle: same old...

EMF health threat and the politics of status quo
 

March 2009

Electromagnetic danger? No such thing, in our view...

EMF safety standards: are they safe?

Power-frequency field exposure
 

February 2009

Electricity and health

Electromagnetic spectrum: health connection

Is power pollution making you sick?

January 2009

Pneumococcal vaccine for adults useless?

DHA in brain development study - why not boys?

HRT shrinks brains

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YOUR BODY    HEALTH RECIPE    NUTRITION    TOXINS    SYMPTOMS
                  6      

Antioxidant protection

Body & toxins - }Oxidation - Detox system - Nutrients - Protocols

 What are antioxidants, and what they are protecting us from? Plainly put, antioxidants are special compounds that have the capability of neutralizing reactive molecules and particles - so called free radicals - from injuring body cells, tissues, organs and processes. Since these reactive attackers are constantly produced within the body, as well as introduced from outside, adequate antioxidant protection is crucial for preserving - or regaining - health.

Biotransformation of toxins - particularly oxidation - creates a constant stream of free radicals, also called reactive oxygen species (ROS). These unstable chemical entities react with body molecules, changing their chemical form. If extensive, free radical damage can compromise the integrity of body's basic structures and functions.

Another major internal source of radicals are oxidative reactions of cellular respiration, during which energy is produced in mitochondria (this implies that vigorous exercise does elevate body's free radicals level). Additional sources of radicals are environmental exposure to radiation and UV light, or xenobiotics containing activated chemical species prior to being subjected to detoxication (smog, cigarette smoke, ozone, radon, some pesticides and chemotherapy drugs, and so forth).

Most free radicals, including the three basic ROS forms - superoxide, peroxide, and hydroxyl radical - are molecular and sub-molecular units left with one or more unpaired electrons (i.e. single-electron orbit, as opposed to a paired-electron orbit) in the outer electron shell. Unpaired electrons are generally more prone to combine with electrons from other atoms and molecules, thus creating chemically active and potentially highly unstable compounds.

OXIDATIVE REACTIONS INSIDE THE BODY

ACTIVATED CHEMICAL SPECIES FROM EXTERNAL SOURCE
 OR CREATED BY CELLULAR METABOLISM SPLIT INTO     

  ß

à    

FREE RADICAL

ELECTRON

q

q

FREE RADICAL
 +
POLYUNSATURATED FATTY ACID

ELECTRON
+
OXYGEN

¤

¤

POLYUNSATURATED FATTY RADICAL
+
INACTIVATED FREE RADICAL

SUPEROXIDE ANION

q

Activated chemical species introduce free radicals and electrons that initiate chains of oxidative reactions. Free radicals oxidize organic molecules, like those of polyunsaturated fatty acids, vital for the proper function of cellular membranes. Loose electrons oxidize molecular oxygen in the body into superoxide anion.

Superoxide reacts with hydrogen ions from cellular fluids via superoxide dismutase enzyme to form hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is quickly neutralized by glutathione. However, if glutathione is in short supply due to high level of oxidation or toxic exposure, metallic ions - primarily iron and copper - will combine with hydrogen peroxide to form the most reactive ROS - hydroxyl radical (HO∙).

Hydroxyl radical freely moves in and out of cells by diffusion. It can react with superoxide to produce singlet oxygen (not a radical, but highly reactive nevertheless) and hydroxide ion. Or it can bond to organic molecules, like polyunsaturated fatty acids, forming oxidized and reactive adducts, that can cross link with other molecules, or between themselves. It can produce more superoxide, or initiate chains of oxidative reactions. Hydroxyl radical can also oxidize organic molecules by stealing their electron; these molecules can now react with, say, oxygen, to produce highly reactive peroxyl radical, capable of initiating chain of oxidative reactions on its own, and so on.

SUPEROXIDE ANION
+
(superoxide dismutase)
+
HYDROGEN ION


¤
HYDROGEN PEROXIDE
+
WATER

q

q

HYDROGEN PEROXIDE
+
(glutathione peroxidase)

+

GLUTATHIONE


¤
WATER
+
OXIDIZED GLUTATHIONE

HYDROGEN PEROXIDE
+
IRON or COPPER ION


¤

HYDROXYL RADICAL
+
IRON/COPPER

Body's protection from oxidative damage is built on a variety of antioxidant nutrients, enzymes and other protective compounds. Without it, the body would simply burn from the inside and the system would quickly collapse. The level of oxidative activity is unimaginable: it is estimated that only 1-3% of 1 trillion of oxygen molecules that go through each single body cell every day lose their electron and become activated. This still results in tens of billions molecules of superoxide created in each cell, day in and day out, from cellular respiration alone.

But - as shown in the above scheme - that is only the beginning. Superoxides go on to create many more reactive molecules, such as hydroxyl and peroxyl radicals. These can initiate chain reactions, each capable of oxidizing thousands of neighboring molecules. This is how the

lipids in your cellular membranes get peroxidized (burned), cellular structures and functions altered, enzymes incapacitated due to their proteins being oxidized, or your DNA damaged.

Oxidative injury to a cell will cause it to under perform, or malfunction. If it is too extensive, the cell will shut down and die. If you were wondering why are so many human cells dying each day, this is part of the answer. Your body cells have their natural life cycle, but many die before their time due to oxidative damage. We keep up with it thanks to huge number of cells and cellular multiplication, but only for so long. If extensive, oxidative damage can significantly speed up aging.

Besides killing the cells, it also can inflict damage to cellular efficiency. Cells have efficient repair mechanisms, but the damage accumulates as we age, particularly in DNA molecules. It is estimated that over twenty oxidative lesions form on each cell's DNA, on average, every day. Most of them are repaired, but those that remain accumulate, and may cause

permanent changes in the genetic sequence,

that will be reproduced during cellular divisions. As they accumulate with time, the regulation of cellular and body functions becomes less efficient, opening the door to degenerative changes, or even directly causing them - including cancer.

Other functional parts of the cell - outer membrane with cellular receptors, or the energy factory, mitochondria - are not spared either, although the rate of damage accumulation is slower here, since it doesn't get passed on during cellular division. Not seldom, the damage is compounded by body's own inflammatory response to oxidative injury, such as the case with blood vessel inner lining. As a result of the repair to oxidative injury, the vessel walls harden and thicken, causing hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

 Ageing, disease and death are mainly the consequence of this accumulated oxidative damage throughout the body.

Free radicals are toxins, because they cause injury to the body and its functions. Thus body's oxidative protection can be looked at as an inherent part of the detox system. Not only that it protects rest of the body from oxidation created by the detoxication process,

it also protects the integrity of the detox system itself.

Body's detox function is directly dependant on the available energy. For instance, the three major transferase enzymes, UDPGT (UDP Glucuronyl Transferase), PAPS and glutathione, all require ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the cellular energy storage/transport molecule) unit for each single reaction they mediate. If mitochondria, where cellular energy is produced, gets damaged due to inadequate oxidative protection, it will inevitably take detoxification efficiency - and viability of the entire cell - to a lower level.

Accumulation of free radicals will also damage detox enzymes, resulting in less efficient detoxification, which in turn will increase the rate of formation of reactive compounds, in addition to the toxic build up. The vicious circle of oxidative damage ensues.

Another important source of free radicals is body's purposeful production and use of them. For instance, the immune system synthesizes and uses hydrogen peroxide in macrophages and white blood cells, like neutrophils, to destroy bacteria; it is also synthesized and used by the thyroid gland in hormonal production. Oxidative activity and, inevitably, injury, is

inseparable part of the inflammatory process,

with which the body attempts to block greater injury, or threat of, to the body and repair the damage. This is what makes long, often hidden infections so dangerous, especially when combined with inadequate anti-oxidative protection.

Put simply, if your body doesn't get adequate protection from oxidation, it will be injured, and your health will suffer. As expected, considering the seriousness of the threat, compounds that body can use against oxidative damage - so called antioxidants - are many, and have to come in a continuous supply. They are either supplied by foods, as nutrients, or are synthesized by the body.

Among antioxidant nutrients, major role belongs to vitamins C and E. The former is water soluble, protecting blood, cerebrospinal and other fluids; the latter is lipid-soluble, protecting lipids in the cellular membrane. Their synergistic effect provides especially powerful protection at the membrane surface. Beta-carotene, fat-soluble precursor of vitamin A, also acts as antioxidant, but not as powerful as vitamins C and E.

Certain minerals, like selenium and zinc, are considered to be antioxidants, because they are needed by antioxidant enzymes synthesized by the body (more on that in a bit).

There is a number of less researched plant antioxidants, some of them more, or much more potent than vitamins C and E. The most significant belong to the broad class of compounds defined by their color, called flavonoids. Such are proanthocyanins, (also proanthocyanidins, or procyanidins, colorless polyphenols that change to red in autumn leaves) like grape seed extract and pine bark extract, water-soluble antioxidants particularly effective in protecting blood vessels. Another potent antioxidant group are red-to-purple plant pigments anthocyanins (also, anthocyanidins), found in berries, cherries, eggplant, black ("forbidden") rice, blue grapes, red cabbage, black legumes, novel plants like purple broccoli and corn, blue potato, and in a variety of other plants, in smaller quantities.

These antioxidants belong to over 8,000 phenolic compounds found, thus far, in plants. The main function of these plant metabolites is anti-oxidative and/or anti-microbial protection. The beneficial effect of these compounds extends to us, humans, with many of them being not only strengthening our antioxidative protection, but also - and mainly due to that - being antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic.

The level of antioxidative protection of plant foods is measured by their Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). The higher number, the better antioxidative protection. Following table lists top 62 antioxidant plant foods, according to the USDA (full USDA ORAC report for 277 foods).

FOOD

ORAC μmolTE/100 g

FOOD

ORAC μmolTE/100 g

hydrophilic

lipophilic

total

hydrophilic

lipophilic

total

cloves, ground

153,309

161,137

314,446

peppermint, fresh

13,978

n/a

(13,978)

sumac bran, raw

309,900

2,500

312,400

oregano, fresh

13,970

n/a

(13,970)

cinnamon, ground

264,083

3,453

267,536

walnuts, english

13,057

484

13,541

sorghum bran,
hi-tannin

n/a

n/a

240,000

currants, europian black raw

10,060

84

10,144

oregano, dried

183,141

16,988

200,129

hazelnuts

9275

370

9645

turmeric, ground

39,931

119,346

159,277

cranberries, raw

9382

202

9496

sorghum bran, black

97,000

3,800

100,800

pears, dry
40% moisture

9496

n/a

(9496)

sumac, grain, raw

85,300

1,500

86,800

artichokes, Ocean Mist, boiled

9221

195

9416

cocoa, dry powder,
unsweetened

82,000

600

82,600

kidney beans, red mature raw

8410

196

8606

basil, dried

64,439

3,114

67,553

milk chocolate

7203

881

8084

baking chocolate,
unsweetened

51,335

859

52,194

black beans, raw

7593

447

8040

cumin seed

76,800

n/a

(76,800)

pinto beans, raw

7610

423

8033

parsley, dried

74,085

264

74,349

pistachios, raw

7557

425

7982

curry powder

24,981

23,523

48,504

plums, Black Diamond, raw

7546

35

7581

sorghum grain, hi-tannin

44,000

1400

45,400

agave, dried

7274

250

7524

sage, fresh

32,004

n/a

(32,004)

lentils, raw

7282

n/a

(7282)

mustard seed, yellow

28,759

498

29,257

black turtle beans, raw

6416

n/a

(6416)

ginger, ground

6,944

21,867

28,811

apples, dry
40% moisture

6681

n/a

(6681)

pepper, black

14,263

13,357

27,617

garlic powder

6523

143

6665

thyme, fresh

27,426

n/a

(27,426)

plums, dried raw

6463

179

6642

marjoram, fresh

27,297

n/a

(27,297)

blueberries, raw

6520

36

6556

rice bran, crude

8.817

15,470

24,287

artichokes, raw

6552

n/a

(6552)

chili powder

21,827

1808

23,635

plums, raw

6241

17

6258

chocolate, dark

21,800

880

22,760

baby food, fruit
peach

6257

n/a

(6257)

sorghum bran, white

20,500

1400

21,900

lemon balm, leaves raw

5997

n/a

(5997)

semi-sweet chocolate

n/a

n/a

18,053

soybeans, mature raw

5764

n/a

(5764)

pecans

17,524

416

17,940

onion powder

5651

84

5735

paprika

16,096

1823

17,919

blackberries, raw

5245

103

5348

tarragon, fresh

15,542

n/a

(15,542)

garlic, raw

5346

n/a

(5346)

ginger root, raw

14,840

n/a

(14,840)

coriander leaves, raw

5141

n/a/

(5141)

elderberries, raw

14,500

197

14,697

Cabernet Sauvignon

5034

n/a

(5034)

sorghum grain, red

13,600

400

14,000

apples, Red Delicious, raw w/skin

4234

41

4275

FOODS WITH HIGHEST ANTIOXIDATIVE CAPACITY: Phenolic compounds provide potent antioxidant protection to plants. They are either hydrophilic (water-soluble) or lipophilic (fat-soluble). Their content is highest in row and whole foods (for instance, cooked beans retain only about 1/10 of their antioxidative capacity when raw; likewise, removing skin from an apple reduces its antioxidative capacity by up to 1/3).

Body's own production of antioxidants is not less extensive. At the very top is sulfur-containing lipoic acid, which is not only effective against more radical forms than any other antioxidant, but also can recycle other antioxidants.

The next is glutathione, tripeptide consisting from amino acids glycine, cysteine and glutamic acid, which is also found in a variety of foods, but not in sufficient quantities (also fairly easy to destroy).

The key cellular antioxidants are superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase and glutathione peroxidase enzymes. The SOD variety predominantly active in the mitochondria uses manganese, while SOD variety mainly found in the cellular fluid (cytosol) contains copper and zinc.

Catalase, an iron-containing enzyme, helps neutralize hydrogen peroxide, although it is less important than selenium-containing glutathione peroxidase.

Sulfur-containing amino acids like cysteine and methionine, as well as small antioxidant molecules like uric acid and copper-containing ceruloplasmin assist vitamin C in protecting the blood and other aqueous regions of the body from uncontrolled radical damage.

This barely scratches the surface of incredible complexity of the detox system. Also, we can see why is nutritional balance the key for proper functioning of the detox system, and the body as a whole. For instance, we need sufficient levels of copper for the main cellular radical quencher, SOD, and iron to support the Phase I detox cycle. However, excessive levels of these two metals will likely increase the level of copper and iron ions in the body, and with it the level of some of the most reactive oxidizers, like hydroxyl and peroxyl radicals, capable of inflicting serious damage to your tissues and organs longer-term, especially if you are low on antioxidants.

This leads us, one more time, to the conclusion that the optimum antioxidant protection requires broad balanced intake of nutrients. As any other body function, oxidative protection is best supported by healthy diet and lifestyle, complimented with a broad, balanced nutritional supplementation. Any longer-term, or high-dose selective supplementation should rely on the use of appropriate diagnostic tests and be supervised by a qualified health professional.

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