Don’t Take Antioxidants – Make Antioxidants!

Dr. Shawn Talbott (Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACSM, FACN, FAIS) has gone from triathlon struggler to gut-brain guru! With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry, he's on a mission to boost everyday human performance through the power of natural solutions and the gut-brain axis.

My 13th book, Best Future You, is out!

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be posting excerpts from the book and blogging frequently about the main concept in the book – which is the idea of harnessing your body’s internal cellular biochemistry to achieve true balance in body, mind, and spirit – and in doing so, help you to become your “Best Future You” in terms of how you look, how you feel, and how you perform on every level.

Chapter 2 – Managing Cellular Stress – the Basis for Feeling, Looking, and Performing Your Best

Don’t Take Antioxidants— Make Antioxidants!

Interestingly, while we know that there are numerous CDR-inducers in the natural world, we also know that specific combinations of ingredients can maximize gene expression in hundreds of genes associated with superior health of tissues and organs throughout the body. This suggests that our cells possess all the genetic resources required to maintain proper oxidative balance, promote health, and slow the aging process at the genetic level by naturally activating our CDR pathways.

Think about that for a moment. Every cell in our body has the ability to protect itself from the stressful, damaging, dangerous environment around us. Without that ability for self-protection and self-preservation, our cells would succumb to a buildup of damage and cellular dysfunction – and they would die. I wouldn’t be here writing this, nor would you be there reading this. At first glance, you might think that referring to the CDR pathways as a “fountain of youth” is a bit of an overstatement. However, we also have to keep in mind the words of Nobel-prize winning author, Albert Camus, “All great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning,” and realize that the CDR pathways have only been known to scientists for a little over twenty years. This makes the entire concept of “cells protecting themselves from stress” so novel as to sound somewhat ridiculous – except for the fact that we already have thousands of scientific studies showing exactly that to be true. For example, we know that lacking an adequately functional CDR pathway means that cells age faster and die sooner, because they lack the ability to protect themselves from cellular stress, but also because they lack the ability to repair damage and adapt to future stressors. With age, both the level of total CDR proteins and the efficiency of their activation decline – leading to reductions in levels of internal protective enzymes and increases in markers of cellular stress.

From my perspective, as a scientist who has been educating about wellness and performance for close to three decades, harnessing the CDR pathways is in many ways the Holy Grail of health and longevity. Three important methods have been scientifically proven to increase both CDR protein levels and activity to reduce cellular stress:

  1. Regular exercise
  2. Diet high in brightly-colored fruits/vegetables
  3. CDR-activating phytonutrients (plant-derived bioactives)

Scientific studies have demonstrated the CDR-activating benefits of a wide range of phytonutrients, such as catechins (from tea), curcumin (from turmeric spice), quercetin (from apples and onions), flavonoids (from dark chocolate), carotenoids (such as lycopene form tomatoes), xanthohumols (from hops in beer), resveratrol (from red wine), anthocyanidins (from pine bark), and many others.

So, if our bodies have the ability to produce their own protection from cellular stress, and we can stimulate that protection with herbs, spices, and plant compounds, you might be asking yourself why everyone isn’t following this approach already. Why isn’t everyone inducing this natural “fountain of youth” to improve their health and possibly extend their lifespan? One reason is because we’ve only known about the CDR pathways for about 20 years – since their discovery by several research groups in the early-to-mid-1990s. In nutrition research and biochemical circles, 20 years is practically yesterday, so while the idea of CDR activation for reducing cellular stress and promoting health is well-accepted among scientists, it has not had time to “cross-over” into the mainstream public knowledge (even among health professionals, most of whom have never heard of CDRs).

This idea of “making antioxidants” (naturally within our cells) compared to the standard approach of “taking antioxidants” (in the form of isolated high-dose vitamin supplements) is a fundamentally different approach to protecting the body from cellular stress—and might just be the future of how we protect ourselves to enhance our overall well-being and improve how we feel, look, and perform at all levels.

British science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke famously said that, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” – which is exactly where natural CDR pathway activation stands today. The “technology” is actually very old, ancient in fact, because it relies on the phytonutrients in herbs, spices, and plants used in traditional medicine to combat cellular stress and restore balance. But the “magical” aspect is due to the relatively newly discovered CDR pathways through which these phytonutrients exert their healthful benefits. For those individuals open-minded enough to see the possibilities, the future is indeed bright, especially because that magical future is actually right here for them to take advantage of today.

Thanks for reading – tune in for the next installment, “The Goldilocks Approach: Getting a “Just Right” Balance

Shawn M Talbott, PhD, CNS, LDN, FACSM, FAIS, FACN
Nutritional Biochemist and Author
801-915-1170 (mobile)


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The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance, and Reclaim Your Natural Energy
Killer at Large – Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat – an award-winning documentary film exploring the causes and solutions underlying the American obesity epidemic
The Cortisol Connection – Why Stress Makes You Fat and Ruins Your Health (Hunter House)
The Cortisol Connection Diet – The Breakthrough Program to Control Stress and Lose Weight (Hunter House)
Cortisol Control and the Beauty Connection – The All-Natural Inside-Out Approach to Reversing Wrinkles, Preventing Acne, And Improving Skin Tone (Hunter House)
Natural Solutions for Pain-Free Living – Lasting Relief for Flexible Joints, Strong Bones and Ache-Free Muscles (Chronicle Publishers – Currant Books)
The Immune Miracle – The All-Natural Approach for Better Health, Increased Energy and Improved Mood (GLH Nutrition, 2012)
A Guide to Understanding Dietary Supplements – an Outstanding Academic Text of 2004 (Haworth Press)
About the Author

Exercise physiologist (MS, UMass Amherst) and Nutritional Biochemist (PhD, Rutgers) who studies how lifestyle influences our biochemistry, psychology and behavior - which kind of makes me a "Psycho-Nutritionist"?!?!

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