ANTIOXIDANTS:  DOING BATTLE WITH FREE RADICALS

It seems like a cruel trick -- you exercise your body more for a couple of days and suddenly you are too tired and too sore to stay on the program.  You have a sore throat, maybe even a low grade fever to boot!  Exercising is making you ill -- so you give it up.   It just doesn't make any sense that "getting fit" should be such a hard thing to do.   After all -- you're not a masochist!   This is a familiar problem for far too many people who have made attempts to "get fit" by exercising more without knowing what else they need to do to win the battle!

So, what are they missing, what don't they understand?   Did they just try to do too much, too fast?   Maybe they didn't drink enough water?   Maybe they didn't fuel with the right "stuff" before or after the workout?   Maybe they didn't stretch enough or do the right stretching?   One thing for sure ... it was too much DRAMA, so they gave up!   What's one of the most important things they don't know?

Inside muscle cells there are tiny organelles called mitochondria.  These tiny organelles are the "furnace" or "power plant" of your cells since it is where oxygen is used and ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is producted.

When the mitrochondria membrane is fluid, the flow of electrons and electrical currents is efficiently linked to energy production. The athletes energy levels are at their greatest at that time. Adversely, if the membrane loses fluidity, energy diminishes and with it immunity and other functions of the entire body are diminished. Hence, hardening of the mitochondria membranes is virtually synonymous to degeneration and aging.

When oxygen is obstructed or cannot get to the cells as needed, Free Radicals develop, which in turn cause the membranes to become rigid or to become rancid and oxidize (think of it as "rusting on the inside").  When this happens the membranes become even more rigid and the flow of oxygen becomes even more difficult. It become a vicious cycle that can only be combated with free radical scavengers: ANTIOXIDANTS.

Free Radicals are highly reactive molecules which target protein bonds, the DNA in the cells' nuclei, and the important polyunsaturated fatty acids within the body's cell membranes.  Once breakdown happens a chain reaction occurs that ultimately results in the total destruction of that cell.  Scientists have identified over 60 age-related maladies that are the direct result of long-term damage resulting from free radical activity.

Free radical is a volatile state resulting from NORMAL conditions, such as:   Exercise, radiation, normal metabolism, carcinogen exposure, and exposure to other environmental toxins.  These NORMAL conditions cause oxygen molecules inside our bodies to break down, losing one of its electrons to another molecule which causes the oxygen molecule to become highly reactive, capable of combining with other molecules.   In its quest for another electron to take the place of the one lost, this volatile state becomes known as a "Free Radical."

Then, when the renegade molecule finds an electron "mate," it bonds with it and causes it to have an extra electron.   At that moment the new electron becomes highly reactive. That is the beginning of a self-perpetuating vicious cycle.  Cell membranes are destroyed, the integrity of the immune system is compromised, and DNA (the bodies master cell regulator) is altered or destroyed.

Just during the past five to ten years scientists are coming to understand the aging process since many sicknesses associated with aging are virtually exploding.  This is supported by evidence noted in the research literature on Free Radicals and their direct effects on our bodies over years of time.  Some common maladies created by Free Radicals are very destructive and can cause: (Here are just a few you'll recognize)

* Cancer
* Artherosclerosis
* Cataracts & Glaucoma
* Emphysema
* Heart Disease
* High Blood Pressure
* Stroke
* Various Types of Dermatoses
* Immune System Deficiencies
* Arthritis
* Parkinson's Disease
* Wrinkled Skin

Therefore, the big question for all of us who live on this planet is, "What do we do about Free Radicals"?  The first step is to first acknowledge that an approach to good health, fitness, and peak performance makes good sense.  Most people who decide to "get fit" and start exercising have already made a decision to begin this process whether they understand the concept of free radicals or not, most of them DO know that they will feel better while they are participating in a sport. But, most probably DO NOT understand that prevention (doing battle with Free Radicals) is why they feel so good!  There are preventive measures that need to be practiced that will have a positive impact on both the life span and their quality of life -- just moving the body is not enough!  What else can you do or need to know to do battle with free radicals?


* Integrate an appropriate (personalized) nutritional program that includes the addition of
   Antioxidants and integrate it into the training program.
* Avoid pollutants and other toxic substances that are known to cause Free Radical damage(smoking, over exposure to sun, etc)

ANTIOXIDANTS are well known scavengers of those rascals, Free Radicals, and are collectively known as Antioxidants. They work both directly and indirectly against all or some of the seven (7) known species of Free Radicals. They "do battle" with Free Radicals by:


* Inhibiting the formation of Free Radicals
* Increasing the strength of other Antioxidants
* Preventing the depletion of Antioxidants
* Preventing the depletion of other substances which also increase the strength
   of other Antioxidants

THERE IS NO "MAGIC FORMULA" Antioxidant!!!  NO "QUICK FIX"!  The secret to successful Antioxidant therapy is a combination approach in which the Antioxidants work synergistically in restoring normal function to all body tissues. So, now you know why there is so much HYPE around this subject today...it's a race to the finish line for manufacturer's of supplements to develop the "best antioxidant known to man," all in one pill or magic formula that will be the easy way to get everything you need and spend your hard earned money paying for it!  To date, there is no scientific studies to prove that this is possible, but there sure are a lot of companies trying and some are convincing you they've ALREADY found the "magic formula"!

During the last few years scientists have proved that Antioxidants indeed DO make a difference. But, we are still a long way from finding a "magic formula."   Although you would not know that by the hype that is being presented by some manufacturer's of supplements!  Dr William Pryor, professor of biochemistry at Louisiana State University, has studied the effects of Free Radical damage for many years and strongly advocates an aggressive antioxidant supplementation regimen, along with the obvious advice of quitting smoking as prevention for Free Radical damage.

Drs Paul Hochstein and Kelvin Davies, USC-based Institute for Toxicology together with their colleagues, have dedicated their total time and resources to understanding Free Radicals, the damage they cause, and the ways in which to combat them or prevent their formation.  They believe the body's built-in repair mechanism -- certain enzymatic free radical scavanging and salvage systems -- are not capable of handling the onslaught in todays society.  According to their research "...the cumulative effect of [free radical] damage over time may diminish the cell's ability to make these repairs. This may be what causes some of the physical degeneration of aging," explains Davies.

So, you ask,"What's A Reliable Antioxidant Approach"? The best known approach is a synergestic approach combining known reliable Antioxidants.  The bases of an Antioxidant program should include those vitamins and minerals that have been scientifically proven to be "very reliable": BACES/Z = vitamins B, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, the mineral Selenium, and the mineral Zinc.  Plus, in recent years much attention has been given to two (2) other Antioxidants: Coenzyme Q10 (also known as CoQ10 or ubiquinone) and Grape Seed Extract (derived from grape seeds).

CoQ10 (ubiquinone) is a fat soluble vitamin-like substance that is also a potent Antioxidant. Trace amounts exist in a variety of foods, such as organ meats, beef, soy oil, sardines, mackerel, and peanuts.  The body also has the ability to make CoQ10 from the amino acid tyrosine, but this is a complicated process that requires at least eight (8) vitamins and several trace minerals to complete.  A deficiency in any one of these nutrients can hinder the body's natural production of CoQ10.

Coenzymes as a group are cofactors essential for a large number of enzymatic reactions with the body.   CoQ10 is the cofactor for at least three (3) very important enzymes used with the mitochondria of the cell (you'll recall, above, the mitochondria are essentially the battery or furnace of the cell where the energy of the cell is produced).  Mitochondria enzymes are needed for the production of the high-energy phosphate and adenosine triphosphate, upon which all cellular function depends.  Mitochondria are where the oxidative process occurs.  Not only does energy start here, but the dangerous by-products, Free Radicals, are also created. As a strong Antioxidant, CoQ10 is extremely important in helping neautralize Free Radicals; however, its' most important function in this situation is to HELP CREATE ENERGY -- it is the "power house" of the cell and responsible for energy production.

It was first found in beef heart mitochondria in 1957 and therefore is a relatively new discovery and much research has now been conducted in identifying its direct correlation between the severity of heart failure and the depletion of CoQ10. It has also been found to be deficient in cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, but most noted in blood levels of patients with congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy.  It is believed that deficiencies are the result of several conditions:  a poor diet and/or impairment of the body's ability to synthesize CoQ10.

Grape Seed Extract has the abililty to cross the brain barrier quite easily (meaning it gets into the fluid around the brain, spinal cord, and nerves very readily).  For fatigued persons it is recommended supplementing with an aggressive approach of about 200-400mg daily.  It will usually take only about three to six weeks before there will be a significant, noticeable, improvement.

Grape Sead Extract is an exceptionally potent Antioxidant, and the mere fact that high concentrations can be obtained in the fluid and cells of the brain and nerve tissue makes it an ideal Antioxidant for the brain.  Research shows that this nutrient is a major player in creating the amazing results that have been seen among patients who are suffering from neurodegenerative diseases.  It is by far the most important Antioxidant optimizer (50 times more potent than Vitamin E and 20 times more potent than Vitamin C) when used WITH all of the other Antioxidants and supporting nutrients.  (Refer to BASCES/Z above).  If Grape Seed Extract is used alone on a daily basis, it is only 6-7 times more potent than Vitamin E and 3-4 times more potent than Vitamin C.  So, here again, the power of synergy among nutrients is clear.

Jenni Ross-Wilkinson, author of
"NUTRITION - THE MISSING LINK:   Personalizing Optimum Performance"


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