Friday, April 24, 2009

Manage Your Free Radicals

This blog was created with the goal of providing its readers with ideas that will help them take charge of their health. There are all kinds of guides, books and self-help tapes explaining how to improve ourselves and our health but how do we know if any of it will really help? We usually take these claims to heart based on the authority of the source, without spending even a second to research the claims ourselves. There’s a term for people who blindly trust the words of others without requiring any supporting facts: gullible.

I always look for ways to determine the truth of anything suggested by others. One excellent way is to search peer-reviewed journals for studies that demonstrate scientific fact. Websites like are easy sources of reliable information and studies that can give you insight on the claims you hear tossed around in the health world.

There are also self tests, such as the litmus paper tests we have described in previous articles, which measure urine pH and help determine your body pH. If you don’t mind spending a little money and want to involve a professional, there are also lab tests (ex. blood tests, urine tests, etc.).

As research continues to probe the workings of the body and mind, it keeps reinforcing and discovering that excess free radical production is involved in almost everything regarding disease and health. If you read alternative health magazines or study journals that report scientific fact, you’ll notice that mention of the involvement of free radicals appears frequently in relation to almost every aspect of health.

We have already reported in this blog that the best way to combat excess free radicals to date may be the use of ORAC’s. ORAC’s can combat free radicals before they are even produced! There is a laboratory test that can give you insight into how well you are controlling the production of free radicals in your body, called the C-reactive protein test. The typical use for this test is to indicate your current heart and artery health. Science has progressed from the first ideas that heart health was determined by blood fats, to the more current idea that inflammation of the arteries and the heart may be more predictive of heart attack and stroke than blood fats. The C-reactive protein test is a measure of the inflammation in the body.

It is known that heart disease creates free radicals in the blood and arteries. Excess free radicals can lead to conditions that increase inflammation. Therefore, inflammation is often an indicator of free radicals. For example, in artery health and heart disease, it is the oxidation of the plaque that is usually responsible for the dangerous buildup that can lead to blood clots. Oxidation is the process that creates free radicals and can lead to inflammatory processes such as the increase of macrophages and other immune system components in the area of damage (oxidized plaque).

My blood fat lab results aren’t very good, so until I can get my blood fat levels under control, I need to do the next best thing, which is to be protective of heart health, which means keeping oxidation and inflammation levels down. More and more research is beginning to indicate that the best predictor to date of stroke and heart attack may be the C-reactive protein test. There are several anti inflammatory supplements I take to control inflammation such as curcumin and 5 loxin (both from Life I also use UDO’s oil (an omega 3 supplement found in health food stores) to help boost my HDL levels (HDL levels can help control oxidized LDL which can help control inflammatory levels in the blood). I use two tablespoons per day. There are other supplements you can use to control inflammation in the body, but my preference is to focus on ORAC’s. ORAC’s are ‘before the fact,’ and can help control excess free radical production by stopping free radicals before they are produced. Although Tufts University recommends 3000-5000 ORAC’s per day for a male, I usually try and get closer to 10000 ORAC’s daily, since I have a few conditions that I believe can be helped by additional ORAC support.

For now my C-reactive protein score of .68 (with anything under 1 constituting a good score) indicates that I am on the right track in regulating my inflammation and excess free radical production. Free radicals are known to contribute to heart disease and stroke as well as destroy DNA (which is a key component in the rise of cancer). Diabetics run the risk of up to 50 times greater free radical production due to the possibility of increased glycation (a biological process which produces free radicals as a by-product and often occurs more heavily in diabetic individuals). In the end, it seems fairly simple, you should limit free radicals whether you are healthy or not.

Everyone: Learn to optimize your health. Keep inflammation and free radicals down. Use the C-reactive protein blood test to monitor your success. Using this test is one way you can take charge of your own health. These tools allow you to make informed decisions about your necessity for ORACs and anti-inflammatory supplements. Don’t blindly buy the claims of the countless individuals out there hoping to capitalize on your trust. Doing research, via self-testing and reading scientific studies, will be the difference between being gullible and knowledgeable.

NOTE: To further clarify, it is the production of excess free radicals that may tip the balance of health. There are many instances where free radicals are produced in the body. For example, the generation of free radicals during metabolism is a necessary and normal process that ideally is compensated for by an elaborate endogenous antioxidant system. However, due to many lifestyle, dietary, and environmental situations, excess radicals can accumulate, resulting in oxidative stress. Oxidative stress (leading to production of radicals) is what we have discussed as leading to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases that account for a major portion of deaths. ORACs and antioxidants can delay or hinder oxidative stress. This may help in maintaining health and preventing disease.