NPF Science Update: Oxidative Stress
Posted Thursday, April 14, 2011

Each month, the Natural Products Foundation Science Update brings you news about the latest scientific advances in the field of natural products. The Science Update features contributions from scientists, academics, doctors, healthcare professionals, industry veterans and other experts. To sign up to receive the monthly Science Update via email, please click here: NPF Science Update.

Fighting Oxidative Stress:
The Battle Against Free Radicals
By David Brown

There’s nothing like the smell of a new car. You never forget the day you drive your first one off the lot—everything running well, the engine smoothly purring because the catalytic converter is cleaning up the toxic byproducts, or exhaust, produced by the engine. But eventually your new car becomes your old car, the catalytic converter becomes less effective, the exhaust isn’t very clean anymore and the engine suffers wear and tear.

Our cells are like car engines.  They have the same combustion process, produce some of the same byproducts and clean up with similar catalytic converters. When we’re young our enzymes, our cells’ catalytic converters, function well and do a good job cleaning the toxic byproducts our bodies generate living life. But unfortunately, like cars, our bodies don’t always function like new. As we age our bodies produce more free radicals and less of the special enzymes that fight them. This leads to oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress is caused by free radicals, molecules that outside the human body cause metal to rust or sliced apples to brown. Free radicals are molecules missing a simple electron in search of another molecule they can combine with to become “whole.” They, with many components of cells and the structures around them, cause “rusting” as the free radicals wildly search for mates. The more free radicals in the body, the more damage they do.

The effect of aging on our skin is obvious, but aging isn’t just apparent outside our body, it’s also the cause of most of the diseases we’re concerned with today—over 70 well-known, widely spread diseases, including: heart disease, cancer, arthritis, lung disease, fibromyalgia, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases (like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s), autoimmune diseases and diseases of the eye (like Macular Degeneration.)

The most effective way to fight free radicals is to trigger the body to produce its own free radical-fighting enzymes. While one antioxidant molecule can fight only one or two free radicals before it is depleted, the body’s free radical-fighting enzymes can each eliminate up to one million molecules per second, every second, without being used up in the process. Enzymes produce pure antioxidant protection, moving through your system, pairing up electrons to eliminate free radicals throughout your body and allowing your body to safely eliminate them—keeping your primary vehicle, your body, running well, a true “classic”—able to withstand the “rusting” of aging and taking you where you want to go for many years to come.

Story Source: David Brown is the current President and CEO of LifeVantage Corporation. Mr. Brown earned his Juris Doctor degree from Cornell University, and is a current member of the Natural Products Foundation Board of Directors.


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