Slowing Down Oxidative Stress & Age-Related Diseases
"Itís never too late to start Ė but youíve got to start now!!"
For those of us who are in reasonable health and who want to stay that way, there is a need to focus our attention on Prevention of degenerative disease such as heart disease, cancer, Alzheimerís, strokes, cataracts, macular degeneration, arthritis, which are the main age-related problems.
In the last decade research has linked oxidative stress to the way that degenerative disease develops in the body. Oxidative stress is damage to our cells and DNA by free radicals, that is electrically charged particles, which come from:
Our bodiesí normal metabolism produces free radical molecules. These are molecules which have oxygen in a highly reactive form. Compare the difference between washing your hair in water H2O, a stable molecule and hydrogen peroxide H2O2- with an extra oxygen atom bringing an extra electrical charge, which makes it highly reactive.
These free radicals react with our bodies inside, causing damage to our cells membranes, our DNA and our tissues in general. The body has a natural defence mechanism against this, internally produced anti-oxidants, which combine with these free radicals, rendering them neutral and harmless. When there is not enough anti-oxidants and there is a net effect of damage which we call oxidative stress. This oxidation is analagous to what happens to iron when exposed to air and moisture. Initially hard and strong it rusts (oxidises) and becomes weak and brittle. Oxidative stress is associated with the progression of many diseases including cancer, stroke, heart disease, cataracts, macular degeneration, depression and the rate of ageing. Ageing may be inevitable but the rate of ageing is oxidative stress-dependent.
Nutrition from fruits and vegetables and wholegrains contains anti-oxidants and phytochemicals, which add to the bodies own defence to give a buffer against the free radical damage. If we could eat enough of fruits & vegetables rich in anti-oxidants, we could slow down this process and reduce our risk of these diseases.
Whereís the Evidence ?
Studies involving 1000ís of people over several years have shown the direct link between degenerative disease and the presence of LOW levels of these anti-oxidants in the blood stream. The studies also demonstrate that the presence of HIGH levels of these key anti-oxidants in the bloodstream create a much lower incidence of cancer and heart disease.
There are 100ís of epidemiological studies, ie studies on 1000ís of people over years, analysing the link between anti-oxidant levels in the blood and incidence of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, cataracts, macular degeneration. For more information on this research please request it from firstname.lastname@example.org
How much is enough?
According to most health organisations, eg the US Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organisation we need 2-4 servings of fresh raw fruits and 3-6 servings of fresh raw vegetables EVERY DAY, and afew of these should be nutrient-dense ones, like spinach, broccoli, kale (ie. a bit of cucumber and lettuce in a sandwich wonít do it!!!)
How many of us can meet these requirements EVERY DAY ? Maybe 5% of us.
We may have some fruit but lets face it, do we want to eat raw spinach and brocolli every day???!!
Why daily ?
Because the free radicals are created and introduced into our bodies daily and the anti-oxidants get used up daily neutralising them. We need a constant supply!!
Talking about free radical damage, Dr. Bruce Ames, microbiologist and leading cancer researcher says "If you donít get enough anti-oxidants itís the equivalent of irradiating yourself. Itís the same as stepping unprotected in front of an xray machine".(JAMA 1995:273:1077-1078).
The problem with anti-oxidant supplements Ö
Hereís the paradox Ė although it has been seen that increased levels of these key anti-oxidants in our bloodstream puts us at low risk, there are studies which have been done, again over long periods of time with large numbers of people, where the groups supplemented with beta-carotene and vitamin E, for example, had MORE incidence of heart disease and cancer than the placebo groups!! (References available upon request)
Why is this?
In a similar way to drugs, introducing a single chemical in a potent dose for a long period of time into the body can have side effects. Whereas getting anti-oxidants from wholefoods, where there is the synergy between these anti-oxidants and the other 10ís of thousands of micro-nutrients present in food, produces a balanced effect, designed by nature / God, which man has not yet been able to synthesize.
Juices - The best solution !
When eating raw or cooked vegetables the bodyís digestive system has to break down the cell walls to release the nutrients so that we can absorb them. Remember the expression: "Itís not what you eat, itís what you absorb that counts!!" With juices, the juice extractor does the "digesting" producing pure liquid micro nutrients, enzymes, anti-oxidants, minerals which are absorbed into the blood stream within 20 minutes!!! So juicing daily would be a great way to get more nutrition from fruits and vegetables. Furthermore juices are concentrated. You might eat 1 carrot in a meal but it takes 5-6 carrots to make a glass of carrot juice!!
Now Juicingís great for 5% of the population who have time to do it, can afford it, and donít mind clearing up the juicer afterwards, but will we drink those green juices Ė broccoli, kale, spinach???? Ė those are the best ones!! If youíre not one of the dedicated 5% or you just donít have the time, you might wish to consider other options available in supplement form.
Itís Your Choice.
Whichever way you choose this is what we need to do to maximise our anti-oxidants, minimise our free radicals and hence slow down the ageing process.
For more information about the importance fruits & vegetables for anti-ageing and prevention and the options & supplements available for achieving it, please email me at email@example.com with your request or call me on +44 (0) 23 92 433928 and Iíll get right back to you. Please also note that we have regular nutrition conferences and seminars internationally, details of which can be found in the Seminars section.
Proprietor: Sandra Hillawi (BSc Hons,
Master Herbalist, Colonic Therapist)
© 2003 Sandra Hillawi