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 4 – Don’t Take Antioxidants— Make Antioxidants
CDR And… Anyone Who Breathes Oxygen?
Oxygen is indispensible to the lives of all mammals on earth, with energy-production and metabolism linked to oxygen-generated ATP production in the mitochondria. Mitochondria are the “energy factories” in each of our cells – every body has trillions of mitochondria – and more than 90% of the oxygen taken up by the body is used by our mitochondria to generate cellular energy from our food. It has been estimated that 1-4% of consumed oxygen is converted to damaging free radicals (super oxide, hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl radical) and that the rate of free radical generation is proportional to the amount of mitochondria and our rate of energy production (so the more energy we generate, the more damaging free radicals).
All cellular membranes and cellular components (as well as our genetic material, and the mitochondria themselves) are susceptible to attack by free radicals, but the cells of all mammals have a built-in protective pathway that senses cellular stress, minimizes cellular damage, performs a “housekeeping” cleanup/repair function, and reduces cellular stress (CDR pathways). Nutritional antioxidants, from our diets, are referred to as “non-enzymatic” antioxidants (factors such as vitamins C & E, beta-carotene, etc) because they function in a “one-to-one” relationship to quench or counteract free radicals and interrupt the chain-reaction spread of free radical damage. The type of antioxidants that our cells can manufacture themselves are “enzymatic” proteins such as super oxide dismutase (that fights the super-oxide radical), catalase (that fights hydrogen peroxide), and the family of glutathione enzymes such as glutathione peroxidase/transferase/reductase (that fight a range of peroxide/hydroxyl radicals and perform a wide range of detoxification functions).
Among all mammals, management of oxidative stress is important for long-term health. When oxidative stress is low, the body’s own internal protective mechanisms (CDR-mediated enzymes), coupled with dietary antioxidants (non-enzymatic) from a balanced diet high in brightly colored fruits and vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, is likely to provide enough protection. However, when mammals are exposed to elevated levels of oxidative stress, our body may not be able to mount an effective level of protection. Consider some of the common factors that increase our oxidative stress:
- Low fruit/vegetable intake (reduced intake of dietary antioxidants)
- High processed food intake (increased intake of oxidizing factors such as simple sugars and refined carbohydrates)
- Being overweight (even by a few pounds, and especially if the fat is located in the abdominal area, can lead to higher levels of oxidative stress)
- Sunlight exposure (ultraviolet radiation)
- Air pollution (cigarette smoked, car exhaust, particulate matter)
- Exposure to pesticides, herbicides, and other toxins (including mold, phthalates in plastics, PCBs in farmed fish, asbestos, heavy metals, chloroform, chlorine, and even many pharmaceutical drugs)
- Exercise (increased demand for oxygen consumption and energy production)
- Stress (increased stress hormones such as cortisol, which can lead to higher free radical production)
- Aging (increases free radical production and reduces CDR activation)
When you look at the list above and think about which mammals are exposed to high levels of oxidative stress due to their high metabolism, high activity levels, pesticide/herbicide exposure, and,relatively long life – I hope you think about yourself as an example of a mammal who needs efficient CDR activation. How about man’s best friend – your dog? Numerous research studies have documented the range of age-related diseases, including arthritis, mental/memory deficits, and cancer – all of which are related to cellular stress, and all of which occur in both humans and canines. For example, the brains of aged dogs accumulate oxidative damage to proteins and lipids (fats), in the same way that occurs in humans – often leading to dysfunction of neurons (brain cells) and a wide range of behavioral and cognitive defects. Considering that the brain of both humans and dogs consumes approximately 20% of the body’s total oxygen, and has both a high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids (very high susceptibility to damage by free radicals) and a low endogenous antioxidant activity relative to other tissues (low ability to protect itself), it is quite logical for us to observe such high rates of age-related brain dysfunction in aged humans and aged dogs. With more than 50 million senior and geriatric dogs in North America (over the age of 7 years), there is a huge potential to help reduce oxidative stress and improve health by improving social interaction, restoring activity levels, and reducing senility associated with advanced age. Indeed, numerous studies have shown that reducing oxidative damage in the brain can lead to significant improvements in cognitive function in aged dogs.
For example, in a recent placebo-controlled study of 80 dogs (Experimental Biology Scientific Conference, April 2015), researchers found some important benefits of CDR-activating herbs for improving health and performance in older dogs. These dogs were 8 years old on average, and were supplemented with the herbal blend or a placebo for 60 days. The group taking the CDR-activating herbs had a dramatic 36% increase in catalase levels (one of our body’s most powerful protective enzymes), while the placebo group showed an 11% reduction in catalase levels. This tells us that in a similar manner to how CDR-activation works in humans, the herbal blend is increasing cellular production of our natural internal protective antioxidant enzymes. It’s also noteworthy that with this heightened level of cellular protection in the CDR-herb group, the dog owners noticed a significant 23% improvement in their dog’s cognitive function and overall physical function. These results demonstrate an important wellness benefit of reducing oxidative stress in dogs.
Thanks for reading – be sure to tune in for the next installment about “How to Enhance CDR to Reduce Cellular Stress: A Summary”