ANTI-OXIDANTS AND OXIDATIVE STRESS
Oxidative stress is a condition where the body produces highly reactive free radicals that can in turn damage cellular components and cause dysfunction of cellular processes leading to illnesses if not controlled.1Many scientists are in agreement that most illnesses and disease states and even the aging process begin at the cellular level as a result of oxidative stress.1
Oxidative stress can be lowered in several ways: by increasing the efficiency of the mitochondrial energy producing process, increasing anti-oxidants produced by the body and in the diet, and by minimizing exposure to environmental pollutants.2 A combination of these strategies can prove to be a useful tool at significantly lowering oxidative stress and preventing related illness and disease.
The mitochondria is where the majority of ROS is generated in the body. As we age our bodies produce less Coenzyme Q10, which is an important part of the mitochondrial transport chain which may be a leading cause of increased oxidative stress with age. However, we can still support the mitochondria with lifestyle changes such as getting plenty of sleep, avoiding excessive psychological stress, avoid overeating, and participating in moderate exercise regularly.1Cigarette smoking, air pollution, and UVR are the main sources of exogenous ROS production.2 Reducing or minimizing exposure to these exogenous sources can obviously help to reduce oxidative stress from the free radicals produced with exposure.
Anti-oxidants alone are insufficient in providing protection against oxidative stress, but they may provide an umbrella of protection against the free-radicals generated in the body. Anti-oxidants work by colliding with the free radical and donating an electron stabilizing the free radical, leaving the anti-oxidant as an unstable molecule which then can be considered a free radical itself!
It is important to provide a balanced source of antioxidants as an imbalance of antioxidants can be just as damaging to the cells as a lack of antioxidants because the processing of the oxidants are passed down in an orderly chain of sequence until they are in a stable compound and ready for excretion from the body.1 Multiple co-factors and nutrients and minerals are involved in this process and the insufficiency of even one of these co-factors can have a significant impact on one’s ability to have adequate protection from the damage of free radicals. Individual supplementation of anti-oxidants may disrupt the balance endogenous anti-oxidants or alter the apoptosis pathway leaving the overall antioxidant capacity unaffected.2 This can explain why dietary supplementation of anti-oxidants have not proven to significantly impact longevity or oxidative stress.
Since a balanced source of antioxidants is superior to individual supplementation, botanicals provide the best source of anti-oxidant protection since they are rich in complex mixtures of polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals.1 Therefore, a healthy individual that incorporates a wide variety of foods with sufficient caloric intake should not need additional supplementation.1 However, as we age additional lifestyle measures should be incorporated to combat the increased ROS formation in our cells, and changing our diet to include more nutrient dense food and herbs can help combat oxidative stress.1
For this reason, I formulated a highly nutritionally dense product, Immunothrive, that utilizes the synergy of botanicals that are powerful anti-oxidants that help squash free-radicals and preserve cellular function.
(1) ) Lord, R.S., Bralley, J.A. Laboratory Evaluations for Integrative and Functional Medicine. Revised 2nd Edition.2012. Metametrix Institute. Duluth, GA. Ch 13.
(2) Poljsak B. Strategies for Reducing or Preventing the Generation of Oxidative Stress. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 2011; 2011: 194586. doi: 10.1155/2011/194586.