Free radicals are waste products that result from the chemical reactions that take place in your body; they are molecules or molecular fragments that cause actual cellular damage to your body. Free radicals are dangerous – they increase the cellular deterioration and breakdown seen in aging; like wrinkles, diabetes, coronary artery disease, depression of the immune system and even cancer.(1)
It’s well-known that a lifestyle filled with drinking a lot of alcohol and smoking, as well as drug abuse, will cause huge increases in free radical production. But there is other behavior that contributes to increased free radical production, such as breathing in air pollution, working in a “sick” building or living on processed food, to name just a few. The body has to deal with those foreign substances, and free radicals often result.(1)
Ironically, the intense exercise routines that serious athletes go through can also cause free radical damage, causing them to also look a bit older than their true age; the observation has been pointed out for centuries that athletes and soldiers show their “wear and tear” early.(6)
Even though our bodies have protection from free radicals in the form of antioxidants scavengers, the protection is only so effective. Large increases in free radical production, even those caused by exercise, will no doubt overload the body’s natural defenses in time. Among other problems, these increases will cause a rise in levels of cortisol, a compound that will slow down fat loss from a diet, as well as other problems.(1) Excess cortisol is definitely bad for your New Year’s diet resolution.
What do you do? You Intervene.
If you are determined to live as long as possible with a certain quality of life, you must consider protecting yourself from these little free radical time bombs. Next I give you a basic guide to the essential antioxidants and vitamins you should take advantage of before it’s too late. These compounds are extremely effective antioxidants, but they also possess many other health benefits. Don’t worry; you’re not going to be overwhelmed with a large list of every supplement in existence. First, it’s not cost-effective and second, it can be counterproductive.
Basic vitamins — Vitamins C and E
Vitamin C is the antioxidant even your parents are familiar with. It slightly boosts your immune system, is a great antioxidant and is a requirement for several functions inside your body.(2) Vitamin C deficiency is very bad for the body and can even be deadly.
Vitamin E is an essential as well and it’s also good for your skin, hair, and your nails.(2) Stick with the recommendations on the bottle, taking too much vitamin E can be toxic.
A good quality multivitamin with minerals is also necessary to facilitate the thousands of chemical reactions going on in your body’s systems every day. Do not skimp on quality.
Pharmaceutical Grade Fish Oil
Dr. Barry Sears, the author of the popular book The Zone Diet, has a PhD in lipid science, which is the study of fats. Dr. Sears has been quoted as saying that pharmaceutical fish oil will change the way medicine is practiced in the future(9). Fish oil is one of the most effective supplements you can take, period. Not only is it good for your skin, your hair, and your nails, it also provides benefits for your heart, your lungs, and your brain.(9) Fish oil makes you healthier in general without a doubt, and some people believe it promotes fat loss and builds muscle, although these claims have not been proven.
Dr. Sears suggests using pharmaceutical fish oil only, and taking 3 to 5 g (g = grams = 3000 – 5000mg) per day, while a number of health magazines recommend 1 g per percent of body fat, per day.
The compound is currently the hottest thing on the Internet since the blog. resveratrol is a chemical produced in plants and shows up in our lives mainly in the skin of grapes, made into wine. An interesting correlation was discovered years ago relating to the low instance of heart disease in French people and the amount of wine they consume per day, given the high fat levels in the French diet. This is called the French paradox(5).
Several years later it was discovered that it is resveratrol that provides the French heart protection from the sauces and butter so prevalent in French food. Not only the French, but many cultures that drink a lot of wine show the same low instance of heart disease in relation to the fact that the population drinks red wine on a regular basis.
While it is healthy to have one or two glasses of wine per night, the real benefits from resveratrol are found in supplements. And according to a lot of research, these benefits seem to be vast. Such as :
Reduction in the LDL and total cholesterol
Enhances immune function
Reduction in the oxidation of LDL cholesterol
Powerful anti-inflammatory properties
Decrease in fat production
All of these benefits of resveratrol have been clearly shown in the laboratory.(3,4,7) And that may be just breaking the surface.
On January 25, 2009, the CBS television show 60 minutes produced a segment on resveratrol that reveals just how powerful this chemical is. Scientists across the country now believe we may be able to slow down the genes that control the aging process using resveratrol. How it works is beyond the scope of this article but there are pharmaceutical drugs already under development that are derived from the compound.
Quality resveratrol supplements can be purchased online for as little as $15 per bottle whereas the highest quality goes for about 30. Optimal dosage levels have not been determined, it seems that 400 – 800mg before breakfast is being used safely, do your own homework before munching on these tablets like grapes.
This is the basic stack of antioxidants that should cover the known bases up to now and limit your oxidative stress and damage. Frequent tune-ups and careful use also required and always check with your doctor before taking anything new.
Just a short consumer warning: stay away from “free trials” of resveratrol unless you care to over-pay $80 to $100 per bottle of low dosage resveratrol. Checking the fine print you will see that you will be agreeing to a charge of this amount or more every month. (These companies give the diet supplement business a bad name) Good quality resveratrol can be found online priced at $25 to $40 and slightly higher for the absolute best. Welcome to the 21st century.
1. Zsolt Radak , Free Radicals in Exercise and Aging, Human Kinetics; 1 edition (August 7, 2000)
2. James F. Balch , The Super Anti-Oxidants: Why They Will Change the Face of Healthcare in the 21st Century, M. Evans and Company, Inc. (September 25, 1999)
3. Bharat B. Aggarwal, Resveratrol in Health and Disease (Oxidative Stress and Disease), CRC Press; 1 edition (November 1, 2005)
4. Philipp Saiko , Effects of Naturally Occurring Compounds on HumanCancer Cells: Anticancer Activity of Resveratrol, Piceatannol,Gallic Acid & their Analogs, VDM Verlag (August 6, 2008)
5. Lewis Perdue, French Paradox and Beyond: Living Longer With Wine and the Mediterranean Lifestyle, Renaissance Pub (August 1992)
6. McBride, J.M., Effect of resistance exercise on free radical production., Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, (1998)
7. Ferrero, M. E., Activity in vitro of Resveratrol on Granulocyte and Monocyte Adhesion to Endothelium.” (Amer I Clin Nutr 68, 1998).
8. Dr. Barry Sears, The Omega Rx Zone: The Miracle of the New High-Dose Fish Oil , Avon (December 28, 2004)