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 3 – Antioxidants are Killing You – by Making Cellular Stress Worse
CDR Activation is the Future of Cellular Protection
So if the so-called antioxidant supplements that we take in huge doses are actually harmful, is there anything we can do to enjoy an optimal level of protection from free radicals and the damage they cause?
Luckily, a growing body of scientific findings is revealing how we can support the body’s own protective measures, primarily by turning on its own internal antioxidant defense systems. This internal network of antioxidant enzymes is approximately one million times more protective compared to typical antioxidant supplements.
This idea of “making antioxidants” (naturally within our cells) compared to the standard approach of “taking antioxidants” (in the form of high-dose vitamin supplements) is a fundamentally different approach to protecting the body from oxidative stress.
As we’ve discussed previously, at the very center of this cellular protective response is a family of coordinated pathways collectively known as the Cellular Defense Response (CDR) that serves as a “master regulator” of the body’s antioxidant response. You might think of the CDR as a “thermostat” within our cells that senses the level of oxidative stress and other stressors and turns on internal protective mechanisms.
Soon after CDR was identified (about 20 years ago), a flurry of scientific discoveries began to show how CDRs also regulate genes involved in the production of not only a wide range of antioxidant enzymes (including SOD, glutathione, and catalase), but also important anti-inflammatory proteins and detoxification or ‘‘stress-response’’ genes. These protective pathways are involved in seemingly unrelated areas of health from immune function to tissue repair to cognitive function—but they all share in common the CDR “switch” that enables cells to protect themselves from both internal and external environmental challenges. In effect, CDR induction enables our cells to makes their own “medicines” to help us survive—and thrive—in stressful situations.
Many CDR inducers are naturally occurring and plant-derived, such as sulforaphane from broccoli and curcumin from turmeric, but some others are synthetic compounds being developed as pharmaceutical treatments. Several CDR inducers have progressed from laboratory experiments to human clinical trials and eventual development into pharmaceutical treatments.
The next section outlines some of the natural options for inducing CDR, which has even been shown to modulate gene expression in hundreds of genes associated with superior health of the heart, colon, brain, and literally every tissue and organ system in the body. These scientific findings suggest 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 (provided that those cells can adequately activate the CDR pathways as needed).
Thanks for reading – tune in for the next installment about “What You Should Do To Protect Yourself.”