Simplified Summary: We can significantly slow our rate of aging and common degenerative processes. We can delay the onset or completely avoid many devastating diseases. We can significantly improve our longevity, happiness and quality of life by doing the following:
Minimize exposure to known “free radicals,”
pollutants, toxins, fumigants, heavy metals, preservatives and carcinogens.
Foods that score high in an antioxidant assay test called “Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity” (ORAC) protect cells and their components from damage by oxygen radicals, according to studies of animals and human blood. ORAC measures the total antioxidant power of foods and other chemical substances. Early findings suggest that eating high-ORAC fruits and vegetables (such as spinach and blueberries) may help slow the processes associated with aging in both body and brain. (Also see the discussion of FRAP below.)
Two human studies show that eating high-ORAC fruits and vegetables or simply doubling intake of fruits and vegetables (both naturally high in antioxidants) raises the antioxidant power of the blood between 13 and 25 percent. The studies are published in the Journal of Nutrition (vol. 128, pp. 2383-2390) and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (vol. 68, pp. 1081-1087).
Early evidence for the protective power of high-ORAC foods also comes from rat studies. Mice and rats being “mammals” have many genetic characteristics that are similar to (but not exactly the same as) humans. Rats that were fed daily doses of blueberry extract for six weeks before being subjected to pure oxygen suffered much less damage to the capillaries in and around their lungs. In other tests, middle-aged rats were fed diets fortified with spinach or strawberry extract or vitamin E for nine months. A daily dose of spinach extract prevented some loss of long-term memory and learning ability normally experienced by 15-month-old rats. Spinach also proved most potent in protecting different types of nerve cells in two separate parts of the brain against the effects of aging, the researchers reported in the Journal of Neuroscience (vol. 18, pp. 8047-8055).
Top Antioxidant Foods
Red bell peppers
“Free radicals” speed up many degenerative processes associated with aging. Free radicals are chemically active compounds that can initiate complex biological degradation. Free radicals can lead directly and indirectly to deadly cancer cells and a variety of other debilitating age-related diseases.
Free radicals are commonly found in nature. They are present at harmful levels in modern sources of toxic pollution. Through the chemical reaction process called “oxidation,” free radicals damage and “mutate” our Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), which is every individual’s unique inherited genetic blueprint. Free radical “aging accelerators” are responsible for many of the physical changes that make human bodies and minds decline and eventually die. Oxidation is the most significant process of aging.
During normal respiration and cellular metabolic processes, some oxygen molecules are converted into harmful “free radicals,” such as: hydrogen peroxide, lipid peroxides (rancid decaying fats), single oxygen atoms (instead of bonded oxygen atom pairs) and superoxides. These are highly unstable agents that react with our cells in a variety of ways.
The process of stabilizing free radicals can damage (oxidize or “burn up”) normal, healthy tissues, or it can cause cellular DNA “mutations”, which are the precursors of deadly cancers.
A young, healthy human body generates its own “antioxidants” designed to neutralize harmful free radicals. Antioxidants protect normal cellular DNA, tissues and organs from potential damage. Our production of these natural protective antioxidants decreases with age, which is one reason that painful and deadly diseases are more prevalent in older sedentary people than in healthy active young people.
Our modern environment exposes us to many external free radical sources, such as ionizing solar radiation. The level of harmful ultraviolet radiation in sunshine has been made worse by the damage that our industrial pollution and slash-and-burn deforestation has done to the earth’s protective ozone layer, while our rapidly growing population indiscriminately adds a million new babies into overcrowded environmental conditions every four days. Other sources of ionizing radiation include powerful cosmic rays, industrial and medical radiation, X-rays and various risky cell-killing radiation treatments used for advanced cancers, etc. It would be far better if we could neutralize cancel-causing agents with antioxidants and an energized immune system, rather than to try to treat deadly cancer AFTER it is well established (with chemotherapy or radiation that introduces new cancer into the body).
The earth’s high altitude ozone layer protects us from cancer-causing sunburn, but when we breathe low-altitude ozone and nitrous oxide (primarily from auto exhaust emission pollution and incomplete industrial combustion), we inhale many harmful free radicals that damage our cells, similar to the devastating cumulative damage caused by cigarette smoke (both first and second hand).
Heavy metals (lead, mercury, cadmium, etc.), from tooth fillings, old paint and plumbing, industrial processes, improperly disposed batteries, etc. present us with increased risk of many diseases. Heavy metals introduce harmful free radicals into our bodies. Heavy metals are found in some water supplies, concentrated in bottom-dwelling shellfish and top-of-the-food-chain fish like tuna and shark.
All sources of free radicals add together to increase “oxidative stress,” which accelerates degenerative aging processes and adds to the risk factors for many debilitating diseases.
Our overpopulated new world is turning otherwise healthy vegetable and animal foods into sources of damaging toxins and carcinogens. Today’s pollution problems are far worse than the world that our grandparents grew up in. Our need for antioxidants and immune system support is much greater than was theirs. In addition, our ancestors’ agricultural cultures ate much more healthy farm-fresh natural antioxidant foods than most Americans do today.
When external free radicals enter our body (through our mouth, nose, skin, etc.), they damage healthy cells and tissues the same way that cellular respiration free radicals do. Free radicals play significant roles in many different disease processes (such as cancer, artherosclerosis, and age-related degenerative processes of the cardio vascular system, central nervous system, etc.) by adding to our total level of oxidative stress.
Simple Summary: Free radicals accelerate aging. Antioxidants slow down many degenerative aging processes.
Every living cell in our body thrives with biochemical activity. “Metabolism” is the set of continual cellular activities that digest and assimilate nutrients, provide energy for vital life processes, generate new body building blocks and excrete byproducts and wastes.
Reduction / oxidation (redox) chemical reactions occur constantly in nature. Redox primarily involves the transfer of electrons between two molecules. The compound that gains an electron is “reduced.” The compound that loses an electron is “oxidized” (or “burned up”). Redox describes electron transfer in active chemicals, (which may or may not involve oxygen atoms).
Redox occurs when a piece of wood is burned (the organic hydrocarbons are oxidized, releasing water and carbon dioxide). Incomplete combustion (in inefficient or poorly maintained automobiles, gas furnaces, hot water heaters, fires with insufficient oxygen, etc.) can produce deadly carbon monoxide.
Analogy: When a car is left out in the sun, its protective paint will slowly “oxidize” (it ages). In a similar manner, when human skin is exposed to the sun over many years, it dehydrates, oxidizes and takes on a damaged, wrinkled, weathered, “old” appearance. Oxidative skin damage is cumulative, getting worse over time. The skin appearance of mature people of the exactly the same age varies significantly, based on lifetime solar exposure, antioxidant intake, hydration, essential fatty acids, etc. Surprisingly, the incidence of skin cancer has increased significantly since the introduction of sun block products, due in part to pollution-based damage to the earth’s high-level ozone layer and the fact that sun block products give people a false sense of security and they spend too much time in the sun.
We can clearly see what oxidation does to our external skin, but the same thing is happening to every tissue and organ in our bodies as we age over time. Antioxidant foods can measurably slow many oxidative aging processes.
Another Analogy: When exposed steel rusts, it is being oxidized. The electrolytes in salt water can significantly accelerate the process of oxidation. Human blood is similar in this way to salt water. Red blood cells carry oxygen to our many types of tissues where redox is continually taking place. If we breathe carbon monoxide, it prevents our red blood cells from properly delivering usable oxygen throughout our body, and we can die in a matter of minutes (since carbon monoxide blocks normal red blood cell oxygen transport).
When we eat food and breath air, the food is burned (oxidized by many diverse beneficial metabolic processes). Redox is normal and very common. There are countless redox reactions constantly going on in our environment and in our bodies. Redox can be both good and bad, as we will now explore in more detail.
If we block the supply of fresh oxygen from our lungs, carbon dioxide builds up in our blood and we have irreversible brain damage in a few minutes. In the case of human respiration, oxygen is not only good, it is absolutely essential to every minute of our life.
BUT, some human metabolic processes result in incomplete oxygen molecules (like hydrogen peroxide, lipid peroxides, single oxygen atoms and superoxides). These damaging “free radicals” are active “oxidizers” that can trigger harmful redox. They bounce around our tissues, attaching and reattaching to one molecule after another, leaving a trail of damaged cells and tissues. The level of unchecked free radicals in our system is a measure of “oxidative stress.”
Although we can all make lifestyle changes that significantly reduce our exposure to external environmental toxins, fumigants, pollutants, preservatives, heavy metals, perfumes, candles, fires and other dangerous substances, it is impossible to avoid free radicals, since some of our metabolic processes continually produce them internally.
It is estimated that every cell in a human may be exposed to 10,000 free-radical hits per day (depending on our lifestyle exposure and level of oxidative stress). Free radicals cannot be eliminated, but they can be greatly reduced, which will slow many oxidative aging processes and greatly delay (or eliminate) the onset of many types of deadly diseases.
The following material is an overview of the underlying metabolic biochemistry of how free radicals cause deadly cancer and accelerate many oxidative degenerative processes. We will discuss what can be done to reduce the risk of diseases caused by many of the toxins, pollutants, and free radicals around and within all of us. Our achievable goal is to help you avoid unnecessary pain, suffering and early death. We hope you will appreciate our effort on your behalf and that you will share the good news with your family and friends.
The process of natural aging can be much more healthy and happy than it is for most people who lack the valuable knowledge found in this material. Joyful Aging lifestyle choices can significantly reduce risk factors, delay or eliminate the onset of debilitating diseases, and greatly improve our longevity and quality of life.
The sun-produced, plant-based “phytochemicals,” healthy nutrients and antioxidants in some (but not all) fruits and vegetables help prevent, or greatly delay, vision deterioration and many potentially devastating diseases of our eyes. Vision can decline as our bodies age. The process of progressive vision degeneration advances based on many factors that control an individual’s unique rate of aging, These factors are largely influenced by daily lifestyle choices such as: nutrition, exercise, environment, toxins, pollutants, oxidative stress level, available antioxidants, exposure to ultraviolet light (sunshine and other powerful radiation sources including sun lamps, X-rays, laboratory equipment, etc.).
Good lifestyle choices can prevent or delay vision deterioration, so we can see clearly for our entire healthy life. If you have every known and loved someone who lost their vision, even partially, you know how extremely important it is to protect and preserve the great gift of our natural ability to see clearly.
Ultraviolet radiation causes “cataracts,” which are essentially a white cloud in the lens of the delicate eye that significantly blurs vision. Cataracts are conceptually similar to repetitive sunburn of the skin. Sunblock slows the rate of oxidation of the skin, but if you spend time outdoors without effective eye protection, your risk of getting cataracts is significantly increased.
In many cases, cataracts can be avoided with proper lifestyle choices, including sunglasses, avoiding direct sunlight, proper nutrition and blood sugar control. People who eat only three and a half servings of high-antioxidant fruits and vegetables per day (less than half of the recommended daily intake) have significantly fewer cataracts than people who only eat one and a half servings of fruit and vegetables per day.
There are invasive eye operations that can remove lens and replace it with a fixed-focus plastic implant, but it is much better to avoid cataracts in the first place, and eliminate the expense, discomfort, risk of infection and blindness of eye surgery.
We previously explained how flavonoid antioxidants in the pigment of some dark fruits and vegetables (that mostly grow above ground) can retard the rate of cellular oxidation and also slow the rate of sunburn of the skin. This principle applies to the lens, retina, optic nerve, optic cortex and brain, as well as to our skin.
By age 65, half of Americans have cataracts. Excess blood sugar in diabetics contributes to this problem, as do years of exposure ultraviolet light (UVB), smoking and a deficiency of antioxidants. The form of sugar called “sorbitol” builds up in the lens of diabetic eyes, creating cataracts and other vision problems.
The flavonoid (plant pigment) called “quercetin” is a building block for other beneficial antioxidants. Quercetin impedes an enzyme that leads to accumulation of sorbitol in the lens. Quercetin occurs naturally in apples, onions and black tea. As an antioxidant, it reduces the risk of cancer and heart attack. Quercetin is a mild antihistamine, which helps relieve asthma, hay fever and sinusitis, since it can reduce airway inflammation. A dietary source of quercetin is beneficial for almost everyone.
Clinical studies document the fact that people who consume adequate amounts of natural A, C and E vitamins, (by eating certain fruits and vegetables or by taking a natural-source multivitamin supplement), decrease their risk for developing cataracts by 37 percent (It is important to note than unnatural manufactured vitamin sources, like common synthetic vitamin E made from coal tar, turpentine or petroleum products. Synthetic vitamin E is not only much less effective and natural vitamin, several important studies have shown that it al contributes to certain health problems (conceptually similar to drinking gasoline - explained in more detail below). Quercetin is also available in supplement form (for diabetics and others who need to minimize consumption of the sugar that naturally occurs in fruits).
There are wonderful health agencies that now offer inexpensive vitamin supplements to poorly nourished children around the world, with a dramatic reduction in childhood blindness. They are to be highly commended for their extremely valuable contribution to humanity.
The natural vitamin C in many fruits and vegetables slows the rate of deterioration of the internal cell body, mitochondria and DNA in every tissue and organ of our body. This includes our optic nerves and the optical cortex of the brain, which interprets the sensory images from our retina. Vitamin A is important for the eyes' ability to adapt to changes in light and color.
“Carotene” is a yellow, orange, red fat-soluble plant pigment. It is an an unsaturated hydrocarbon that is converted into vitamin A by a healthy liver. Lutein is the most prevalent carotene in many vegetables. Lutein is found in high concentrations in the “macula” (central vision portion of the sensory retina) of the healthy eyes. People who do not consume sufficient quantities of certain vegetables are lutein deficient. Maintaining sufficient concentrations of lutein in the eyes can help prevent free radical damage to the sensory nerves of the eye, which can lead to “macular degeneration” (common in older individuals with poor nutrition, especially those with high blood sugar). Lutein can also slow the rate of cataract formation.
Other carotenes, including “beta carotene” (found in dark green and dark yellow fruits and vegetables) are also important for healthy vision. Beta carotene must be consumed in natural source concentrations. Multiple international studies have shown that the concentration levels found in beta carotene food supplements significantly increase the risk of certain cancers. In the case of beta carotene, natural food sources are valuable, whereas beta carotene supplements (especially prolonged usage) should be completely avoided.
The consumption of alcohol plus beta carotene supplements has been shown to make the increased risk of cancer even worse. Some natural beta carotene sources (starchy roots like carrots and sweet potatoes) should be avoided by overweight people and high blood sugar diabetics who must control their intake of carbohydrates, especially those foods with a high glycemic index (i.e., they release their sugar rapidly). Dark green leafy vegetables offer the essential beta carotene benefits without so much quick-release sugar.
Herbs that improve circulation can be helpful for vision, UNLESS you are at risk for vascular hemorrhage or stroke (as are many older people with weakened blood vessel walls and those taking blood thinners and common anti-inflammatory pain killers).
People with a history or risk of weakened blood vessels should carefully avoid vasodilators and blood thinners (like ginko biloba, alfalfa, aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxen, and many potentially dangerous combinations of prescription medications). High acid (low pH) in commonly abused drugs (like aspirin - acetylsalicylic acid) can contribute to acidosis (high acid build up in body tissues), which inhibits normal metabolism, blocks the absorption of essential nutrients, causes peptic ulcers, and is fatal to thousands of Americans each year.
Long-term frequent usage of prescription and over-the-counter vasodilators, blood thinners, and some anti-inflammatory and high blood pressure medications will gradually increase the risk of vascular failure (hemorrhage and brain stroke). The higher the dosage, the longer you consume them, the higher the cumulative risk will be.
It is very important to prevent or control chronic inflammation, high blood pressure, blood clots, etc., but many unnatural prescription medications introduce negative side effects that have mortality risk factors that are much worse than natural nutrition and exercise solutions that have been proven effective for hundreds of years. Pharmaceutical companies heavily promote their patented (often unproven, dangerous) drugs and most board-certified medical doctors have very little exposure to more natural, time-honored natural solutions that have been found to be safe in Europe and Asia.
Inappropriate use or combination of food supplements, over-the-counter pain killers, or prescription medications can result in everything from hemorrhoid bleeding, to total blindness, to a massive stroke that causes memory loss, sensory loss, dementia, motor control debilitation, paralysis, or even sudden death. The precise cause-and-effect relationship of poor lifestyle choices, prescription drugs, and self-medication mistakes is often difficult to understand.
Consider the popular food supplement: Ginko Biloba. It is often touted as enhancing mental function by increasing blood flow to the brain. It is said to have a beneficial effect in chronic cerebral insufficiency. Ginkgo could only possibly help increase mental function if it is due to a restriction of the brain’s blood supply. Ginko might help atherosclerotic dementia caused by blocked arteries, which can mimic Alzheimer's disease. But, ginko cannot possibly reduce the impact of actual Alzheimer's disease, which is a biochemical disorder that results in permanent irreversible nerve death - Once a nerve is dead, no medication can bring it back to life.
Ginko may reduce blood clot formation induced by platelet activating factor, and it has been shown to help break up blood clots in guinea pigs. Ginko may protect against bronchoconstriction and therefore help some patients with particular types of asthma. Ginko may relieve claudication (limping caused by interference with the blood supply to the legs) in those with peripheral artery disease.
Although no significant side effects or interactions with other medications have been documented by clinical trials, this is probably due to a lack of formal testing. Biochemists suspect that ginko may interact negatively with anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxen, and many potentially dangerous combinations of prescription medications. In this way, taking ginko may lead to internal blood leakage, external bleeding and strokes. There is anecdotal evidence of increased bleeding in people with hemorrhoids who have taken ginko. A similar effect may take place with internal organs, but this speculation has not been tested scientifically. Who would fund such a study?
Any beneficial effect from ginko may be due mostly to its antioxidant flavonoids. These may increase blood flow to the brain and could limit the damage associated with ischaemia (deficient blood supply) and ischemic neuropathy (nerve death by starvation) by scavenging free radicals, as do many effective antioxidants, but again, the blood thinning effect of ginko may cause ischaemia, due to micro hemorrhages.
Overall, you should be cautious and skeptical about ginko claims, since there is insufficient firm research data on its pro and con effectiveness and side effects. In the case of common blood thinning and anti-clotting drugs like aspirin that have been around for over a hundred years, there is irrefutable scientific evidence that they do directly cause internal bleeding, which kills many Americans every year with diseases like peptic ulcers, etc. Some medical doctors recommend daily doses of aspirin to reduce the risk of heart attacks, but in so doing, they increase the risk of ulcers, hemorrhages, dementia and deadly brain strokes.
Ginko is not a placebo. It is clearly pharmacologically active (like many popular foods), but not in ways that are well documented in a scientific way. This is also true about many over-the-counter and prescription drugs, where the precise mechanism that makes them work is unknown (read the package insert or the Physician’s Desk Reference). Statistical evidence about long-term use of drugs less than thirty years old may not be understood until years after they are released in the marketplace. Very year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration removes drugs from the marketplace that they previously unwisely approved.
People who self medicate with ginko biloba and mix it with other over-the-counter food supplements (ginko, alfalfa,etc.), prescription and non-prescription medications (blood thinners, anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxen, and many others) are risking their health with a medical experiment that may cause severe permanent irreversible brain damage (due to a vascular hemorrhage, etc.), or sudden death. Even after such a catastrophic event, it may be difficult to precisely determine the underlying cause and effect. The best we can do now is to speculate about food and medications (since no one is required to study food supplements and there is minimal economic incentive for anyone to spend the necessary money on comprehensive scientific research). There is almost no testing of the potential negative effects of combining different drugs and foods in people with various inherited genetics.
Since many diseases, foods, food supplements and medications are linked to age-related vascular failure, what can we do to strengthen our blood vessels as we get older? One of the most effective antioxidants for strengthening blood vessel walls is Grape Seed Extract. It’s ORAC is 50 times more effective at eliminating age-accelerating oxidative-stress free radicals than is vitamin C, which is absolutely essential to good health.
Grape Seed Extract has one very important characteristic - It sticks to connective tissue, which is the structural foundation for blood vessels. Oxidative stress weakens blood vessel walls – Free radicals attack and crack the thin smooth muscular tissue that lines blood vessels. This degerative process accelerates, as we get older. The body sends cholesterol to patch up the cracks in weakened blood vessels (like spackle for a cracked wall built on a bad foundation). This was commonly called “hardening of the arteries.” Young arteries are flexible, plaque-coated arteries are not. When the heart pumps blood into less-flexible arteries, the blood pressure rises to unsafe levels that can lead to hemorrhages and brain strokes.
Cholesterol that the body uses to repair vascular cracks can build up and eventually block the arteries. This rapidly kills cells that are suddenly starved for oxygen and nutrients supplied by the blood. The soft, flexible blood vessels of our youth are replaced by harder, less flexible collagen, which makes our heart work harder and our blood pressure goes up (hypertension). Higher blood pressure increases the number of vascular cracks and leaks. It is a negative snowball downhill effect, getting progressively worse over time, UNLESS we reduce our oxidative stress level in order to reduce the vascular cracks associated with long-term exposure to free radical aging accelerators. New products like Collagen II are being developed and tested that can be combined with other food supplements to improve joint health and vascular flexibility with multiple health benefits.
Grape Seed Extract (a powerful antioxidant) has been scientifically shown to stick to blood vessel wall connective muscle tissue and protect arteries from free radical oxidation. Grape Seed Extract has been prescribed by medical doctors in Europe for half a century to strengthen blood vessels. Its effect can be seen externally in reduced incidence and severity of varicose veins and bruising of the skin (blood leakage) that is common among older people.
Grape Seed Extract (and other high-ORAC antioxidants that protect blood vessel walls) are particularly valuable in defending the micro capillaries that supply the tiny neurons in the retina, optic nerve, optical cortex, entire brain, and throughout the central nervous system. In this way, well-studied, commonly-available, inexpensive Grape Seed Extract is a much safer and more-effective protector of brain function (than is a risky vasodilator like ginko biloba, which has a much lower ORAC than Grape Seed Extract). Grape Seed Extract PLUS the proper balance of omega-3 fatty acids (containing DHA) are powerful brain function enhancers and preservatives.
In stark contrast to beneficial Grape Seed Extract, which protects and strengthens blood vessel walls, common excitotoxins like “diet” food and beverage sugar substitutes and MSG can greatly accelerate the aging of blood vessel walls. Ten percent of common aspartame is methanol (NutraSweet, Equal and Spoonful – found in over 5,000 “diet” foods and beverages). Methanol (wood alcohol) is a well-known neurotoxin that does severe cumulative damage to blood vessels and to the nerve cells that they supply. Excitotoxins are by far the source of more food-related health problems reported to the U.S. FDA each year than all other deadly health products combined. ALL artificial sweeteners and MSG should be entirely AVOIDED BY EVERYONE for a variety of important reasons.
Blood thinners (aspirin, alfalfa, etc.), vasodilators (e.g. ginko biloba, etc.), vasoconstrictors, (like deadly erectile function enhancers viagra, cialis, levitra), mental stress, oxidative stress (free radical oxidizers), and high blood pressure (hypertension) can greatly increase the probability of devastating micro and macro vascular hemorrhages and brain strokes through weakened blood vessels. It is far better to prevent the damage that leads to the need for such deadly products, rather than suffer the side effects of taking high-risk medications and food supplements.
“Bioflavonoids” are a group of biologically active substances that are found in many plants. Bioflavonoids help maintain small blood vessel wall health, and they do NOT have the many health risks enumerated in the previous paragraph. Notable sources of healthy bioflavonoids for humans include the skins and seeds of grapes (grape seed extract), green tea, black tea, onions, citrus fruit (excluding the more risky grapefruit), blueberries (European bilberry), raspberries (especially Meeker Red Raspberry) and other fruits, berries and seeds.
Although wine (made from dark grapes) contains beneficial bioflavonoids, the alcohol in all wine is irrefutably neurotoxic. All alcohol consumption always damages brain and central nervous system neurons – the irreversible damage is cumulative over time.
A few uninformed, biased (alcohol drinking), medical professionals once taught the false notion that “Alcohol is your friend.” The latest studies published in 2006 point out that this is simply false with no basis in scientific fact. The consumption of any level of alcohol ALWAYS damages neurons. That is where the drunken “buzz” comes from, and the morning after headache/hangover. Your reduced brain function and pain are trying to tell you that you have done a bad thing, but alcoholics ignore the truth, just like smokers ignore their cough.
Alcohol does NOT improve heart health. All of the previously published incorrect studies and sensational headlines were both biased (by alcoholic mentality) and scientifically flawed. This unscientific notion is similar to the outrageous tobacco-industry-funded studies that suggested that smoking tobacco reduced Parkinson’s disease (which is actually aggravated by smoking, drinking and drug abuse).
The high-glycemic-index sugar content of grapes and grape juice (which can be easily fermented into neurotoxic alcohol) has many other negative health effects. Grape Seed Extract provides the bioflavonoid benefits of grapes without the neurotoxic alcohol found in wine, bad carbohydrates, or high-glycemic-index sugars (which aggravate obesity, diabetes, cataracts, inflammation, cancer, and multiple internal organ failure).
One of the most well known good foods for the eyes is “bilberry” (made with European blueberries – other American blueberries have similar properties). During World War II, English air force pilots and navigators consumed bilberry preserves to nourish their eyes and aid night vision. Bilberry is a bioflavonoid that strengthens microcirculation in the eyes. Bilberry’s retinol purple makes the retina more effective, which is particularly measurable in night vision tests. Over 70 studies support the use of the effective bilberry antioxidant, showing that blueberries improve the ability to focus, combat visual fatigue, and measurably enhance vision at night.
Many of these clearly documented scientific facts have been well understood for half a century, but how many times have you ever heard an American eye doctor recommend changes to your nutrition to improve your eyesight? Medical Doctors focus on very profitable threatment of disease after-the-fact, rather than the lower cost approach of preventing disease. Insurance companies pay for treatment, NOT for prevention. This is EXTREMELY STUPID and must be radically changed before American healthcare goes completely bankrupt in only thre to five years.
It seems that very few doctors have a clue about disease prevention and the critical role that nutrition, exercise and lifestyle have on preventing or delaying the onset of devastating predictable diseases. Most modern medical doctors are without a clue.
All that traditional eye doctors understand are eye glasses, potentially-dangerous prescription medications and surgery. Board-certified medical doctors have almost no formal training in basic nutrition – how very sad for millions of people who have already unnecessarily gone blind while under the care of a clueless medical doctor.
The highly beneficial berry family includes the raspberry, especially the Meeker Red Raspberry. It contains the highest concentration of “ellagitannin,” which upon human consumption is broken down into “Ellagic Acid.” Recent studies also suggest that Ellagic Acid may be one the safest and most potent ways to prevent and fight cancer. Ellagic Acid is a “phenolic” compound. It inhibits the growth of cancer cells and arrests their growth in persons with a genetic predisposition to cancer.
The Hollings Cancer Institute at the University of South Carolina has conducted a nine-year double blind study on a group of 500 cervical cancer patients. It shows that Ellagic Acid causes cancer cell “G-arrest” within 48 hours (inhibiting and stopping cancer cell division). Ellagic acid causes cancer cell “apoptosis” (normal cell death) within 72 hours, for breast, pancreas, esophageal, skin, colon and prostate cancer cells.
Ellagic Acid clinical tests on cultured human cells also show that it prevents the mutagenic destruction of the p53 gene by cancer cells. Additional studies suggest that one of the mechanisms by which Ellagic Acid inhibits mutagenesis and carcinogenesis is by forming adducts with DNA, thus masking the binding sites occupied by the mutagen or carcinogen.
The simple summary is that high pigment antioxidants (fruit skins and seeds like dark grapes, blueberries and raspberries) have significant health benefits for many different reasons. No single fruit or vegetable does everything by itself. It may not be necessary to consume all different types of beneficial berries every day. Dietary variety of certain fruits and vegetables has many diverse benefits, BUT not all fruits and vegetables are equal.
Overweight people should avoid all of the starchy high glycemic index vegetables (roots, potatoes, beets, carrots, and grains like wheat and rice). Bananas may contain beneficial potassium (which is also available from many other healthier sources), but overweight people and diabetics should avoid bananas (unless they are getting ready to run a marathon race).
Knowledge of individual foods nutritive values are important. For example, cantaloupe has many antioxidant and good nutrition characteristics, but similar-looking honeydew melons are high in fat-producing sugars and much lower in health benefits than cantalope.
When fresh or frozen fruit is not available, or when one wants to minimize intake of fruit sugars, fruit extract dietary supplements may be useful (but avoid excessive dosage, especially beta carotene supplements). Most people do not need grape seed, bilberry, raspberry, quercetin, etc. every day (unless they are dealing with specific types of cancer, cataracts, inflammation, etc.).
Many of the healthy fruits (like grapes) are high on the glycemic index. For that reason, products like Grape Seed Extract can provide many of the benefits without the high sugar. If you do consume healthy fruit, do so in the morning, or just before heavy exercise. Do NOT consume sugary, starchy foods within the few hours before you go to bed, or before being sedentary like sitting at a desk or TV. The liver quickly converts excess blood sugar to body fat during sedentary periods like sleep or sitting. Having a little bit of blood sugar in the morning (like grapes, etc.) helps to jump start your metabolism and burn sugar and excess body fat for multiple hours. Consume healthy sugar sources (antioxidants, etc.) in the morning or before heavy exercise ONLY.
For general disease prevention and aging rate reduction, you may elect to alternate between seasonal fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, and a diversity of fruit and vegetable extracts on different days, in an attempt to maintain sufficient antioxidant levels in your body. Cell walls need oil-based antioxidants (like natural vitamin E) and cell body chemical factories need water-based antioxidants (like vitamin C), which also reactivate your existing cell wall antioxidants.
These diverse oil-and-water-soluble characteristics are complex-but-important benefits to consuming different types of both oil based and water based antioxidant sources. If you consume too much of a water soluble vitamin, healthy kidneys quickly purge it through the urine, but the same is not true about oil-based food supplements, which can build up in tissues, body fats and organs like the liver. If a human eats polar bear liver, the high level of stored vitamin A can be deadly.
Therefore, it is very important to know the “Upper Tolerable Intake” (UTI) level for all foods and especially oil-based food supplements that you consume. For example, The Institute of Medicine established the UTI for vitamin E at 1,000mg (1 gram). This upper limit is established to represent the maximum “never exceed” intake from all sources for a nutrient that poses no risk of adverse health effects in most healthy persons. People who consume at least 100 IU of natural vitamin E have been shown to have lower levels of homocysteine, which is a significant risk factor for heart disease (heart attacks and stroke). The recommendation of 400 IU per day of vitamin E for good health falls well within the UTI. Most vitamin E food supplements contain 400 IU. If you know that you eat sufficient quantities of foods that contain a total of 400 IU of vitamin E per day, you should not take more of this food supplement. In some cases, you may want to only take a vitamin E supplement once every few days or once a week, since the temporary excess can be stored in the body and used later.
The term “natural vitamin E” is used as a generic designation for a group of eight lipid-soluble compounds that are synthesized by plants. These compounds fall into two classes, “tocopherols” and “tocotrienols,” which exhibit the biological antioxidant activity of vitamin E. Vitamins in both classes are designated by the Greek letters alpha, beta, gamma and delta. The most biologically active antioxidant is d-alpha-tocopherol. Vitamin E activity is expressed as d-alpha-tocopherol equivalents. Where activity is given as International Units (IU), 1 IU of d-alpha-tocopherol is equivalent to 0.67 mg.
If a synthetic vitamin E (made from unhealthy coal tar, turpentine or petroleum) is present in the form of dl-alpha-tocopherol, significantly more (0.91 mg) is required to have the antioxidant effect of 1 IU. Many synthetic vitamin E studies have shown multiple healthy risks linked to dl-alpha-tocopherol, which are not present in natural vitamin E. Synthetic vitamin E lacks most of the eight beneficial lipid-soluble compounds that are in natural plant sources. Most multiple vitamin capsules contain zero natural vitamin E. When pharmaceutical companies want to scare consumers away from vitamins and over to their expensive unnatural patented prescription pills, they use synthetic vitamin E studies, and fail to mention that they did not perform the same test with natural vitamin E. This strategy works very well for most uninformed consumers who lack critical thinking skills.
Natural vitamin E is synthesized only by plants and is, therefore, found primarily in plant products, the richest source being plant oils. All higher plants (i.e., plants other than algae) appear to contain -tocopherol in leaves and other green parts, while gamma-tocopherol is generally present in lower concentrations. Animal tissues tend to have low concentrations of vitamin E, with the highest levels occurring in fatty tissues, though this varies according to the intake of vitamin E.
Although the UTI for water-soluble vitamins is generally much higher than oil-based vitamins, variations in individual health alter the UTI for people with certain diseases. For example, people suffering from kidney failure, may not be able to purge excesses of water-soluble substances, and they can build up to toxic levels in the blood.
People suffering from acidosis (excess acid, caused by many different sources) many not be able to absorb many essential nutrients, regardless of the consumption of large quantities of them. A preliminary indication of acidosis can be obtained from saliva or urine and with simple pH test strips, BUT, the underlying acidosis source (e.g. out-of-control blood sugar, disease, diet, etc.) is more difficult to ascertain. The acidosis trigger source must be accurately diagnosed by a licensed professional and dealt with quickly. Do NOT rely solely on yourself or any person with a high-profit motive to sell you an indiscriminate “cure all” product.
For someone with one of the variations of “hemochromatosis” (high iron build up in the blood and tissues), food supplements containing iron and vitamin C (which enhances iron absorption) must be eliminated. Here again, a licensed healthcare professional and blood and tissue tests are required. Treatment options may include regularly giving blood to lower deadly iron levels. This is a patriotic and health thing for some people to do anyway, but not for others with anemia, etc. There is no pill, treatment or behavior that is the best thing for everyone to do in all circumstances. Be extremely skeptical of anyone who over generalizes the products or services that they offer.
Iron can play both good and bad roles in human health. Too little is unhealthy, leading to anemia, low energy and even death in some cases. Too much iron is toxic to most all tissues and internal organs.
Iron plays an important role in reduction/oxidation metabolic biochemical processes. In fact, one labatory measure of the effectiveness of particular antioxidants is: Ferric Reducing Antioxidant Power (FRAP) assay. (Also see the previous discussion of ORAC above.)
FRAP is a directly quantifiable measure of total antioxidant activity. A food with a higher FRAP is a more effective antioxidant (which may or may not be a significant health benefit). Individual antioxidants affect different metabolic processes in different ways, through different paths and biochemical mechanisms.
Not all antioxidants with similar ORAC or FRAP assay values have the same health benefits. For example, grapefruit (which has a high ORAC and FRAP assay) can have some positive health benefits, BUT grapefruit has negative biochemical dosage interactions with hundreds of over-the-counter-and-prescription medications. Grapefruit also interacts with other foods, such as the way that all sources of vitamin C alter iron absorption rates (good for some people, deadly for others). Citric acid foods also interact with overall body acid/alkaline “pH” (Hydrogen ion potential) balance, which impacts multiple metabolic processes in various complicated ways. Out of balance pH is linked to certain forms of cancer and other significant diseases. Bad pH is both a symptom and a cause of disease (including various forms of “acidosis”).
In summary, oversimplification of complex health and nutrition issues can be deadly. “Consume more antioxidants” is an example of such uninformed oversimplification. The more you study and understand the underlying issues, the better your decisions should become in the selection of your essential nutrition and other very important lifestyle decisions. An simple general recommendation will NOT apply equally to people. What is good for some may kill others (such as consuming foods like bread that contain iron supplemens, or foods that are high in vitamin C, etc.) You must know what YOUR unique body needs to make the best possible decisions.
All of the above specific examples, (and many others that are not discussed in detail here), point out the fact that self-medication without adequate biofeedback (blood testing, condition monitoring, etc.) can be life threatening.
Self-medication must NOT be done just because a particular food supplement seemed to work for Aunt Tilly, or because you saw it advertised on a profit-motivated late night cable TV infomercial. Do your investigative homework! Read readily available literature from NIH.gov and mainstream and alternative sources. Search for (Google) other .gov and .edu websites on the subject. Inquire from trusted health organizations. Find multiple opinions and understand why they disagree. Use Critical Thinking Skills. See a licensed healthcare professional.
AFTER you have reliable blood analysis, disease diagnosis, and treatment recommendations from professionals, you will be more qualified to participate in your own nutrition, treatment decisions, and disease progress monitoring. For example, insulin-dependant diabetics MUST test their serum glucose levels regularly before determining how much insulin (novolin, etc.) to inject. Foods like cinnamon, chromium, tea, etc. impact insulin effectiveness. Glycemic index, lipid intake, body fat, antioxidants and exercise significantly influence insulin demand. Every human is unique. Oversimplified statements about nutrition. Exercise, lifestyle, etc. may be very harmful to some.
Study and understand your individual needs better than anyone else has the time to do. Discuss your concerns with healthcare professional(s). The average doctor patient interaction is only about seven minutes. That is far too little time to convey the critical information about YOU. You must learn to communicate with doctors clearly and concisely. Do your homework and write things down for your physician(s). Complete lists of problems, concerns, family history and your daily food, supplements, medications and exercise are essential.
Most Medical Doctors (M.D.s) have essentially ZERO training in modern nutrition and food supplements. You may need to see an expert in “integrated medicine.” They are rare, especially the good ones with an excellent track record (like Doctor Andrew Weil).
When multiple healthcare professionals disagree, or they offer no acceptable treatment hope, (which is true for many diseases like optic neuropathy, etc.) then pay even more attention to alternative integrated medicine, especially that which has a track record of success in treating your disease.
For example, in some specific cases, the devastating progress of optic neuropathy leading to total irreversible blindness was stopped within a few weeks by merely eliminating aspartame and adding grape seed extract to the diet – things that almost all M.D.s do not have a clue about. This was my own personal experience, which helped motivate the creation of JoyfulAging.com. We do not have any financial interest in promoting a particular product. This information is merely my own documented health history, offered at no charge for your thoughtful consideration.
Hydrogen peroxide is a powerful free radical oxidizer and a natural byproduct of some normal human metabolic processes. Lipid peroxides are formed when certain fats age (become “rancid”), are processed at high temperature, cooked, and also during some internal metabolic processes in the liver.
Peroxides are now known to be “carcinogenic” - Scientists now understand how peroxides trigger “carcinogenesis” (the first stage of cellular mutation and cancer growth). Peroxides are also linked to heart disease (heart attacks and stroke) – the number one American killer.
Over half of all Americans die of heart disease. Perhaps as much as one half of American heart disease is preventable by making minor lifestyle changes. Think of the millions of American lives that could be prolonged and made happier and healthier by simple changes to nutrition and exercise. Understanding this important material is a step in the right direction.
Hydrogen peroxide has long been used as a topical disinfectant, since it is toxic to organic material. You can watch hydrogen peroxide “boil” violently when poured on healthy blood cells on an open wound. This boiling process is rapid “oxidation” (redox). Cells exposed to hydrogen peroxide will die or suffer random DNA damage. Viable mutated cells are “cancer”, which in some cases can “metastasize” throughout multiple body organs. It is important that we minimize carcinogenesis trigger events, like internal exposure to large amounts of hydrogen peroxide.
Hydrogen peroxide can pass through the skin, enter the blood stream and circulate through the body when it is used to bleach hair. In some cases, people even ingest peroxide as a cosmetic tooth whitener (despite the documented health risk of ingesting powerful free radicals). Liquids under the tongue (sublingual) can pass immediately into the blood, bypassing normal digestive processes.
Lipid peroxides (rancid fats) are found in many processed foods (like bread, etc.). They are created by high-temperature cooking, baking, frying, etc. Lipid peroxides may also appear in poorly stored, older, oil-based vitamins and food supplements, which should be stored for no more than the recommended expiration date in a cool, dry, air-tight, dark place (often overlooked by naïve consumers).
Homocysteine is an essential amino acid (a building block of protein) that is produced in the human body. Excess levels of homocysteine can irritate blood vessels and invite cholesterol build up, leading to blockages in the arteries (called atherosclerosis).
High homocysteine levels in the blood can also cause cholesterol to change to something called “oxidized low-density lipoprotein” (very bad cholesterol), which is even more damaging to the arteries. Antioxidants can reduce the rate of LDL oxidation.
High homocysteine levels can make blood clot more easily than it should, increasing the risk of blood vessel blockage. Artery blockage can cause you to have a sudden problem with blood flow, a devastating brain stroke, or sudden catastrophic heart failure. Many people with life-threatening heart disease have high homocysteine levels.
In healthy individuals, homocysteine is normally changed into other amino acids for use by the body in building essential protein. If your homocysteine level is too high, you may not have enough B vitamins to help this process, or you may not have enough of the enzymes that are necessary to metabolize homocysteine correctly.
Most people with a high homocysteine level do NOT get enough folate (also called folic acid), vitamin B-6 or vitamin B-12 in their diet. Correcting these dietary deficiencies with proper nutrition or food supplements helps return the homocysteine level to normal and reduce the risk of several deadly diseases. Other possible causes of a high homocysteine level include low levels of thyroid hormone, kidney disease (often caused by poor lifestyle choices), psoriasis, some prescription medicines, or rare inherited genetic deficiencies in the enzymes used to process homocysteine in the body.
There are accurate (but expensive) blood tests for homocysteine level that are especially valuable for “at risk” individuals. People who consume more vitamin B-6 (about 4.6 mg a day), folate (at least 400 mcg a day), or vitamin E (at least 100 IU, but not more than 400 IU, a day) have a lower risk of heart attacks. Vitamin B-6, B-12 and folate protect the heart by lowering blood levels of homocysteine.
Many “ionic” air fresheners (heavily advertised on late night cable TV infomercials and elsewhere) produce toxic ozone and hydroxyl “free radicals.” They kill organic compounds in the air, which are then collected on electronic plates or in air filters, or merely fall to the floor as black dust around the unit. These toxic “free radical” ions may be good for reducing irritating organics in the air, and the air really does smell “fresh” and clean, but the air may also become very unhealthy to inhale, since the ozone and hydroxyl ions accelerate aging and can increase the risk of various forms of cancer (especially in the lungs). The ion-induced lung cancer can then metastasize (migrate throughout the body) to the breast, prostate, and other sensitive internal organs, with deadly results over time. The higher the exposure, the longer the time, the higher the risk.
The latest government documented laboratory tests show that ozone (from ionizer air fresheners, etc.) increases the incidence and multiplicity of lung cancer tumors in mice, with an assumed similar effect in all air-breathing mammals, including humans.
To be safe, ionic air fresheners should NOT be operated when people are in the same building, and certainly they should NOT be operated next to where you work, live or sleep (which is exactly what most uninformed consumers do with them).
It is amazing to me that “intelligent” people take vitamin pills containing “antioxidants” to reduce the impact of cellular oxidation, and then stupidly spend money to put powerful oxidizers like hydrogen peroxide in their mouth, or to sleep next to an expensive free radical generator that can rapidly oxidize (burn up) the “alveoli” (tiny air sac tissues) in their lungs, and increase the risk of lung cancer and other deadly diseases!
The reason that profit-motivated companies spend billions of dollars advertising dangerous, unhealthy products is to get the mediocre majority to buy things that an intelligent person would never consider using if they had not seen the commercial. Misleading advertising obviously works very well in our extremely covetous society.
There is another marketing marvel for mediocre mental midgets that started in faddish California a few years ago. People now go to “oxygen bars” (or indiscriminately buy home-experimentation oxygen generators) where they pay to breathe or drink abnormally high concentrations of oxygen. This does give a temporary “lift” (like putting oxygen on a flame to make it burn violently), but excess oxygen intake also accelerates oxidation of all bodily cells, and thus the rate of cellular aging.
Short-term excess oxygen is probably not as bad as sleeping near an ozone or hydroxyl ion generator (unless done frequently and for long duration), but over oxidation is a really dumb thing to do (unless you are in a low oxygen location, like above 13,000 feet above sea level, or you just got out of a high-carbon-monoxide environment). Hyperoxia (excess oxygen) has well-documented adverse medical effects on many types of bodily tissues. Do NOT toy with taking in excess oxygen. It can be life threatening.
The concerns about long-term use of ionic air fresheners (and being around electric devices like rooms full of many motors that generate ozone, hydroxyl ions, other free radicals and excess oxygen concentrations) have not been widely publicized, since the manufacturers have a strong disincentive to document the dangers of their pricey, pernicious, profitable devices that appeal to uninformed pseudo intellectuals. They old rooms full of multi-million-dollar mainframe computer often had very high levels of ozone. The air smelled extremely “fresh”, but it was life threatening. Did IBM advertise the health risks to naive computer operators – NO!
Our inept federal government does not do enough to protect the consumers of potentially harmful products that are presented to big business or in misleading insomniac infomercials. Government web sites document studies that show how ozone clearly causes lung cancer. Some infomercials proudly advertise ionic air fresheners designed specifically to generate ozone or hydroxyl ion free radicals to clean the air, but government agencies are either too stupid or too corrupt to make the obvious deadly device connection. Let the buyer beware! Consume healthy antioxidant foods, breathe fresh air, but avoid over oxidation and especially destructive free radical ions.
All humans make lifestyle choices every day – Some are good, many are bad. Some choices ultimately result in painful death. Some decisions are made in an attempt to make life better, but actually make it much worse. Most humans lack the scientific critical thinking skills or motivation required to study the long-term cause-and-effect relationship of many of their potentially hazardous lifestyle choices. Joyful Aging attempts to help our readers make better lifestyle choices.
In small amounts, for a short period of time, in young healthy individuals, oxidative free radicals (like hydrogen peroxide, lipid peroxides, ionic air fresheners, excess oxygen, etc.) do not seem to cause significant damage, but long-term continual exposure to powerful oxidizers has been shown to accelerate aging and cellular decay, and trigger the complex cascading processes that can lead to many deadly forms of heart disease, stroke, cancer and other deadly diseases.
The risk factors are linked to: (1) total oxidative stress level, and (2) time of exposure. They can be partially reduced by some types of antioxidants. The older we become, the fewer antioxidants we produce, the less our bodies are able to defend against oxidative stress, and the more important it becomes to avoid free radical pollution, and consume antioxidant fruits and vegetables.
An analogy is that one cigarette usually does not kill most young people, but years of smoking many expensive cigarettes per day greatly increase the rate of aging and the risk of lung cancer – a highly preventable disease. Antioxidants can reduce the risk of cancer, but it is much better to avoid known free radical sources and carcinogens (like smoke and pollution), than to deal with the damage that they do after the fact. (See DHHS National Toxicology Program – 228 Cancer Causing Substances)
Hydrogen peroxide is still effective as a rare-use topical disinfectant to clean a dirty wound (to prevent immediate infection), but we have explained the deadly significance of long-term exposure to even small amounts of peroxide (and other free radicals) in our internal tissues, especially peroxide (which causes breast cancer) in older women.
An industrial ozone generator is an effective way to reduce the smell of smoke in a room after a fire, BUT it should NOT be operated when people are in the building.
The general oxidation reduction rules are: (1) minimize exposure to free radicals and (2) consume at least seven to nine servings of antioxidant fruits and vegetables (or equivalent supplements) every day - even more as you get older, but (3) do not overdose, especially avoid beta carotene supplements and limit oil-based food supplements (which can accumulate to toxic levels) to well below the Upper Tolerable Intake (UTI). (4) Pay attention to the new studies that are published in the future, i.e., Lifelong Learning.
More than 1.6 million Americans are newly diagnosed with cancer each year. 143 people per 100,000 died of cancer in 1930. The statistical probability of getting uncontrolled cancer increases with every year of our life. In our new millennium with “advanced medical science,” a surprising 180 people per 100,000 die of cancer EACH YEAR (26% more than 70 years ago!).
America spends far more per person on healthcare than any other nation, but we also have much higher heart disease and cancer rates than more intelligent nations that spend far less, but they pay more attention to ways to PREVENT disease, rather than ineptly deal with it after the fact using treatments that often do not work.
America has much higher paid doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, but many other nations have healthier citizens. America’s typical “insane” methods of treating cancer with deadly chemotherapy and life-threatening radiation treatments are well documented to CAUSE cancer in large numbers of Americans (with indiscriminate mediocre minds that accept what poorly-trained, uninformed, American medical doctors prescribe).
The World Health Organization ranked the over-priced United States healthcare system a very low 37th among all nations! (We are below tiny Costa Rica but proudly just above Slovenia.)
Our typical U.S. healthcare is far below international mediocrity – it is relatively abysmal, corrupt, ineffective and badly misdirected. With respect to life expectancy, the United States is a dismal 24th. On average, Americans should expect to spend more time disabled and die earlier than citizens of most other advanced nations (who spend far less on healthcare than we do). The number of U.S. doctor-caused (iatrogenic) deaths plus serious injuries is measured in the millions each year.
With the baby boomers about to retire and our bad medical system costs spiraling upward (faster than the cost of poorly managed gasoline, etc.), medical expenses are about to bankrupt the poorly-managed, ineffective American Medicare system. Preventable diseases alone will soon far exceed the available resources of our an abysmal medical system.
Spending more money on the current ineffective, inefficient American medical system and the corrupt politicians and government agencies that regulate it is NOT the right answer. Blocking or limiting malpractice lawsuits against rotten doctors is NOT going to end doctor-caused iatrogenic injuries or improve the quality of our failed medical system. The thinking that created this ghastly mess, and the unwarranted public trust in it, is insufficient to correct it!
It is obvious that those at fault have strong incentives to hide this clearly-documented information from American patients and tax payers. Comprehensive disease prevention (practiced by dozens of other nations with a far superior heath record) is extremely important, but mostly overlooked by mainstream modern American medicine and governmental regulatory agencies. Bad status quo ignorant arrogance is unforgivable.
There are many diverse reasons why far more Americans are now dying of cancer, but five of them are: (1) pollution, (2) unhealthy lifestyles, (3) unnatural, poor modern nutrition, (4) ignoring well-documented cancer risk factors, and (5) inept, ignorant, dangerous, ineffective, often ill-advised, unnecessary, life-threatening cancer treatments like cancer-causing chemotherapy and radiation. Just because millions of people have made the same mistake does NOT mean it is the correct thing to do. See Critical Thinking Skills
Why would anyone undergo a dangerous treatment that has a higher risk of killing you than the avoidable poor lifestyle choice that actually caused your cancer in the first place?
Some comedians have joked (with a basis in partial truth) that
“The worst place you can go if you are sick is an American hospital – Many people die there.” The problem is this is documented reality, not just a joke.
It is far better to PREVENT disease in the first place and avoid hospital errors (Joyful Aging goals). Don’t smoke or drink alcohol. Eat well, avoid toxins, exercise, stay trim, and pay close attention to questionable lifestyle bad habits, regardless of who taught them to you.
(See our valuable material on Reduce The Risk Of Cancer)
(See Fast Food Nation)
A Quick Review Of DNA and High School Biology
At the moment of conception when egg-meets-sperm, we inherit our unique lifetime genetic blueprint from our two parents. (See The Rate of Aging – Genetics versus Lifestyle Choices) Our unique Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) is in the central core of every living cell that makes up every tissue and organ in our entire body. The very different cells that become the heart, muscles, bones, eyes, brain, hair, etc. of an infant all contain the same DNA genetic blueprint. DNA controls the enzymes we produce, which then determine the way we grow (color, height, etc.) and our many biologic processes, despite the fact that lifestyle choices influence everything about us.
Our nucleic acid contains the specific instructions for lifelong cellular “mitosis” (reproductive growth by cellular DNA replication), production of biochemical enzymes and how we construct body building proteins. DNA precisely determines the complex differences between the unique living cells found in humans, chimpanzees, mice, fish, birds, dinosaurs, plants and all known forms of life on earth down to the smallest single-cell life form.
The proteins that make up our bodies are constructed from strings of smaller molecules called amino acids. Each protein molecule consists of thousands of precisely arranged atoms. The sequence of amino acid assembly determines the diverse characteristics of specific proteins (like muscles, hair, eyes, finger nails, etc.). Particular DNA “genes” control the amino acid construction sequence for each type of protein in our bodies. Genetics plus lifestyle choices can alter these patterns and impact health in many diverse ways.
DNA consists of two strands (one from mother and one from father, except for genetic “mutations”), which fit together like a zipper. When a cell makes a new molecule of protein, it 'unzips' the relevant bit of DNA and makes a copy of one strand using another chemical called Ribonucleic Acid (RNA). The RNA then tells the protein-making machinery in the cell which amino acids to assemble into each protein.
A DNA mutation (caused by radiation, free radicals, toxins, intentional or random recombinant DNA gene splicing, etc.) will cause different proteins, enzymes, life forms, etc. to be produced. Genetic research scientists are learning how to manipulate genes and produce modified life forms. Many of the foods we now consume (corn, etc.) now have genetic alterations that have been uncontrollably spread by the wind around the world and are now pervasive and unavoidable.
The human genetic blueprint consists of 23 chromosomes (somewhat randomly selected) from our father’s sperm and 23 chromosomes from our mother’s egg. The same two parents can produce many different offspring with widespread genetic variations such as height and coloration. Mutations in less-resistant older mothers can produce genetic diseases like Down’s Syndrome, which involves a chromosome triplet that is not present in either parent. Despite billions of human beings, the statistical probability against two of them being exact genetic duplicates is astronomically high (except for identical twins or clones).
Each of our chromosomes is made up of complex information genes. Analogy: Binary zeroes and ones are used for all of the diverse things we do with modern digital computers. In contrast, combinations of four different chemical “nucleotide” messengers (cytosine, adenine, thymine or guanine - C, A, T or G) precisely represent each DNA gene. The blueprint for life that is stored a single gene consists of multiple nucleotides.
A single gene can have many possible CATG gene state variations. Some gene states (like those that influence hair or eye color) are common and considered normal, while other genes can carry disease-causing mutations that interfere with proper enzyme or protein production. Many serious genetic defects result in non-viable embryos. Other genetic defects may be only minor irritations, such as the lactose intolerance in about 30% of adults, which is easy to deal with after it has been diagnosed.
Any process (like free radical oxidation, radiation, etc.) that modifies even one nucleotide causes a “genetic mutation,” (which may in some cases grow into a malignant tumor, etc.).
Our immune system attempts to destroy foreign and mutant cells, but our daily environment, lifestyle choices, poor nutrition, high stress and age-related degeneration can significantly reduce the effectiveness of our immune system and allow different diseases to devastate our body, regardless of our inherited genetic blueprint. In some cases, genetic mutations can be transferred to our offspring, but in many cases, cancer-causing DNA genetic mutations are the result of our environment and lifestyle choices after the moment of conception.
As a direct result of the new millennium completion of the Human Genome Project, we now know for certain that there are about 30,000 (at least 29,550) genes in the DNA of every human cell. We know precisely what all of their nucleotide states are in a few research subjects. This public-domain scientific information is available on the Internet.
Our individual 30,000 gene values account for 100% of all “inherited” differences between billions of humans. 98% of human genes exactly match chimpanzees. Only about 600 genes account for the huge differences between humans and chimps. Even fewer genes account for obvious genetic differences between individual humans.
This new millennium Human Genome Project news surprised many people who were incorrectly convinced for thousands of years that inherited characteristics were much more important than we now know that they really are. The Internet is still littered with recent class notes from top universities that incorrectly proclaimed only a few years ago that there must be more than 100,000 human genes. This pseudo scientific university material is now known to be as false as the belief that the earth is the flat center of the universe.
We now know that all of the significant non-genetic differences between individual humans are based on (1) environmental factors, (2) learned behaviors, (3) diversity of lifetime experiences, and (4) daily lifestyle choices (like nutrition, exercise, mental activity, etc.). The role of genetics in human behavior variations is actually far less than many “scientific experts” believed only a few years ago. The “nature versus nurture” arguments now heavily lean toward nurture rather than inherited nature to explain variations in human behavior.
For the most part, humans never have been the slaves of our DNA (although countless university professors have erroneously taught that most of our behavior variations were inherited). As adults, we are to a large degree the product of our own decisions, which are controlled by our experiences, knowledge and mental images, all of which can be altered through the process of “lifelong learning in an ever expanding universe of possibilities.” This new scientific fact is the foundational hope offered by the enlightening material found on JoyfulAging.com.
Genetics influence how tall we will become, but our actual height is also influenced by nutrition, medications, and exercise, and to a lesser degree by mental thought processes.
Genetics clearly play a role in some important diseases (like Down’s Syndrome), but we have direct control over MOST of the factors that will determine our longevity, quality of life, and happiness – if we only seek the elusive knowledge of the difference between what is “good for us” versus what is bad, AND we chose to do the good and avoid the bad (which the great masses of the mediocre majority do not). How very sad it is when we frequently hear: “I know I shouldn’t, but…”
The lifetime growth patterns of all humans are defined by multifaceted CATG nucleotide data. Two disparate fields of science are converging to deal with this complex new field of knowledge: (1) human genetic biology and (2) leading-edge computing science. The resulting innovative think tank union promises to produce an explosion of new, useful knowledge that will sever future humans from many of the limitations of our genetic heritage and eventually transform our offspring in countless ways that we cannot yet begin to imagine. In only a few decades, we may have injectable enzymes and retro viruses (etc.) that can selectively alter disease-causing DNA genes after conception. The potential of this technology is difficult to comprehend, although many science fiction authors have tried. Yesterday’s sci fi is rapidly becoming tomorrow’s perplexing reality, with many moral and political issues yet to be resolved.
A new breed of dual-talented research scientists has recently emerged. Many call themselves “computational biologists.” Their efforts are revealing how genes precisely control our susceptibility to common and rare diseases, and how we cannot only cure ourselves, but eventually even transcend flawed human nature and condition. Over 100,000 genetic combination variations are being mapped across the population in an attempt to understand their relationship (if any) to various diseases. This could lead to genetic-variation-specific medical treatment options.
Today, genetic research scientists can modify nucleic acid in the laboratory by using special purpose enzymes to “cut and splice” pieces of long DNA strands from different individuals, to achieve desired genetic blueprint characteristics, (called “recombinant DNA gene splicing”).
Today is only a science-fiction-to-fact beginning. We now understand how future generations may soon elect to eliminate genetic defects from their offspring, and thus from their children's children. In this way, we may revolutionize evolution and the essential fabric of all mankind.
This new knowledge has already been applied to innovative plant and animal foods, and to some of our medicines. The pollen from genetically modified corn, etc. has blown around the world. Most Americans have already consumed genetically altered products without realizing it. Optimists believe that tomorrow’s bioengineering will be used to make our children healthier and better suited to their ever-expanding environment, but the potential impact is unprecedented and impossible to predict with certainty.
In the 1970’s, when “recombinant DNA gene splicing” first entered the human vocabulary, doomsayers and luddites denounced it, while government agencies and ethical study groups were quick to devise guidelines outlawing the creation of "improved" human beings. But, legislators may ultimately find that genetic information and bioengineering is just as hard to control as any other form of computerized data. In the long term, people may be able to make their own choices - humanity and life on earth will never be the same. The tools are in place and the process has begun.
If you were painfully dying of an inherited disease, would you consider being injected with a bioengineered substance that could forever eliminate the disease from your body? What if your child is suffering from a debilitating degenerative disease inherited from you our your spouse? Suppose you know that most of your ancestors have inherited a life-shortening agonizing disease. Would you be willing to have one single gene of your future offspring specifically altered to ensure that the disease was not passed on? What if the probability of success was 99%?
The $3 BILLION leading-edge “Human Genome Research Project” (coordinated by the U.S. National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland) completed documenting all human genes (in one unique individual) a few years ago. It is not a comprehensive study of the genetic diversity of all healthy and diseased human individuals (this is in progress now), but enthusiastic futurists feel that this foundation of genetic understanding is an essential starting point for many happier, healthier tomorrows.
Anyone anywhere in the world with an Internet connection can download the publicly-funded international Human Genome Project information. However, genetic research scientists still do not know exactly what each tiny gene nucleotide does (yet). It humbles all of us to realize that the DNA human genome blueprint information, (which occupies almost a gigabyte of modern computer hard disk space), is concisely and precisely stored in every cell that defines the entire human body. Surely, something much greater than the human intellect set all of this in motion billions of years ago.
Each gene has the complete chemical information required to make one “polypeptide” (3-D linked chain of amino acids), which are the “building blocks” of the proteins that make up all of our tissues and organs. Each DNA-controlled protein molecule consists of thousands of precisely arranged atoms. The world’s largest supercomputer “Blue Gene” is being developed by IBM to investigate complex 3-D protein-folding structures. Spectacularly complex artificially intelligent (AI) super computer models are just beginning to unlock the deep secrets of how DNA dictates the subtle differences between healthy humans and those who are burdened with devastating inherited diseases.
The tools of genetic research scientists have already been used for decades to produce exact copies of human insulin. The patent for the original proprietary Humalin® has expired and diabetics now commonly rely on generic Novolin, available at low price at WalMart, etc. (without even a prescription in many states). Insulin-dependant diabetics may not have a clue about Novolin gene science, but practical gene science has already added decades to many lives, and life to their decades.
Genetic research scientists can now “clone” (make a nearly exact copy of) complex mammals by replicating the DNA of a single parent. Since before the original discovery of the DNA’s double elliptical nucleotide helix in 1953, most scientists and religious philosophers believed that cloning a higher life form mammal would be “impossible.” Sexual reproduction from two parents adds random diversity to mankind. Traditional sperm-and-egg conception may be pleasurable (smile), but it is “no longer required” for mammalian reproduction. We can now clone copies of (female) mammals. With recombinant DNA gene splicing, scientists may soon learn how to make minor alterations to a clone’s DNA, to eliminate a known disease, change eye color, height, intelligence, etc.
Although the unprecedented religious, political and ethical issues are extremely complex, with strong public opinions on multiple sides of each issue, genetic scientists will soon be able to clone cells from an individual (conceptually similar to the now commonplace laboratory production of human insulin) and generate “perfect-match” replacement tissue-and-organ body parts. Surgeons have already learned how to replace organs like the heart, kidneys, liver, fingers, hands and legs. Perfect-match replacement parts could eliminate the current need for organ transplant recipients to take drugs that prevent their own immune system from attacking the foreign cells in donated organ transplants. Today’s transplant recipients often die from the complications of disabling their immune system, since they become like advanced AIDS patients who can no longer fight off common infections and diseases.
The “recombinant DNA gene splicing” process can take time to incubate in the laboratory, and then evaluate how the uniquely-produced offspring perform in the real world environment, Artificial Intelligence (AI) computer systems have been developed that simulate recombinant DNA gene splicing, natural selection, and survival of the fittest. AI self-learning “genetic algorithms” now allow millions of alternatives to be evaluated in less time than it would take to do even one in the laboratory. Such genetic algorithm computer systems are currently investigating vaccine and medication solutions to the frightening potential threat of bioterrorism attack.
The future implications for tomorrow’s “health sciences” (in contrast to ancient “medical arts”) are nearly impossible to imagine and comprehend. One possibility on the near horizon is “designer” genetic medications that can be cost-effectively custom tailored to correct specific DNA defects in one particular individual (in contrast to today’s mass-market mediocre medications that help some and can kill others).
There have been many significant genetic research advances in the last quarter century, although the result is leading-edge gene splicing is not yet completely predictable. Genetic research is allowing us to do in days or months what nature has taken thousands or millions of years to do through selective breeding and natural selection of plans and animals. “Jurassic Park” science fiction is rapidly approaching potential reality.
Genetic Research Summary: For those interested in Joyful Aging, the latest genetic and medical research has significant implications for happily improving longevity and quality of life.
If tomorrow’s genetic research were to magically discover ways to stop aging altogether, we might remain at our biological age at that moment for a very long time. The prospect for tomorrow’s unimagined medical science discoveries makes us want to learn how to slow down our aging processes as much as possible right now. Avoiding deadly cancer is one important topic.
(See also Your Genes Your Health)
Cancer includes more than 100 different diseases, all characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal (mutant) cells. Cancer is a disease of damaged DNA (which is the “genetic blueprint” that we inherited from our biological parents, plus random mutations).
When a chemical process (like redox or an enzyme) modifies even one gene in one cell, the resulting cell is a foreign “mutant” that may or may not be able to reproduce exponentially in the original host (by endless mitosis: doubling and redoubling its DNA double helix).
If not eliminated by our immune system, mutant cells may grow uncontrollably as a “cancer” and do great damage, eventually killing the host. (1) Healthy immune systems can destroy limited numbers of mutant cells, and (2) antioxidants can reduce the number of mutations that are produced.
Antioxidants play important roles in both of these cancer controlling processes. As we age biologically, and are exposed to the cumulative damage of free radicals, toxins and carcinogens, our internally-produced antioxidant levels and immune system capacity decline.
“Oxidative stress overload” created by too many unchecked free radicals can overwhelm a weak, older immune system, allowing cancer and other deadly diseases to devastate the host. The traditional chemical and radiation treatments to kill cancerous cells also devastate huge numbers of healthy cells and tissues, AND they actual cause new cancer by massive DNA mutation. Many leading edge cancer drugs attempt to inhibit blood vessel growth, which cancers need to flourish, but these drugs also inhibit blood vessel growth to healthy tissues.
In summary, it is MUCH EASIER and BETTER to prevent cancer from starting and spreading in the first place, than it is to rely on indiscriminate, unnatural drugs and radiation treatments for massive numbers of mutant cells that are metastasizing (spreading) to many organs throughout the body. Many people suffering from painful cancers have been killed by today’s risky cancer treatments.
Cancer can be created in many sites throughout the body. It is quite often the result of years of repeated irritation, like smoking or environmental pollutants that eventually result in lung cancer, or like alcohol consumption that ultimately produces breast cancer, etc.
Cancer behaves differently depending on its organ of origin. For example, beast cancer has different characteristics than lung cancer. Breast cancer that spreads to the lungs is different than lung cancer, which can spread to the breast. Even in the lungs, breast cancer continues to behave like breast cancer, and through a microscope, continues to look like breast cancer, no matter where its unchecked mutant cells are found in the entire body.
Cancer is often the long-term result of a complex, multi-stage process. Risk factors include: family history (inherited genetic blueprint), age, rate of aging, metabolism, environmental pollution exposure (automobiles, factories, natural and man-made toxins, pesticides, preservatives, cleaning products, solvents used in fabrics and carpet, heavy metals, etc.), tobacco smoke (first or second hand) and especially alcohol consumption.
Recent studies at the Harvard School of Public Health confirmed the significant link between personal lifestyle choices and breast cancer, which has long been suspected by medical practitioners, and the statistical observations made by public healthy research scientists. One problem has always been that the cause-and-effect cycle for cancer often takes more than a decade. It is both difficult and expensive to study with epidemiological precision.
Medical research scientists have now clearly documented (with reproducible clinical studies and laboratory results) that breast cancer is associated with high levels of damage to DNA caused by free radicals (including hydrogen peroxide, etc.).
Normal cellular metabolic processes, and exposure to toxins, pollution, preservatives, smoking, alcohol, etc., all produce harmful derivatives of oxygen called “Oxidants of Reactive Oxygen Species” (ROS). Oxidants play an important cause-and-effect role. Oxidative stress initiates some cancers (carcinogenesis), because ROS clearly causes DNA damage and unnatural malignant mutations.
Recent investigations have demonstrated that breast tissues contain large amounts of the enzymes (dehydrogenase and xanthine oxidase) that try to protect us by degrading alcohol and some other environmental toxins. This partial protective process forms several byproducts, perhaps most importantly hydrogen peroxide, which can subsequently damage DNA and produce deadly breast cancer, if not eliminated by our natural or ingested antioxidants.
Several additional factors have been discovered that influence the effect on breast cancer. Specifically, breast cancer strikes women more frequently after age 40. Coincidentally, the level of the natural human protective antioxidant enzyme (catalase) that removes (scavenges) oxidative hydrogen peroxide from our body also declines after age 40. Thus, as normal protective metabolic processes take place, and hydrogen peroxide free radicals are produced, our natural antioxidant enzyme (designed to protect our cells) declines.
Our rate of aging accelerates, due to increased oxidative stress and reduced antioxidant protection, which causes ever increasing levels of cancerous DNA mutations, lengthy pain, suffering, and eventually death. Even a casual observation will make it clear that the skin of heavy drinkers seems to age more rapidly than those who never consume alcohol. Harvard research scientists have documented one multi-step metabolic mechanism which links alcohol, pollution and free radicals to breast cancer (and most likely to many other devastating diseases).
The simple essence of this new knowledge is this: When we are younger (and our naturally-produced antioxidant levels are higher) we can defend against the byproducts and cancers produced by our metabolic defense mechanisms. As we age, the concentration of non-scavenged damaging free radicals increases. Cellular DNA is mutated, resulting in malignant cells that metastasize in a variety of devastating ways throughout many of our sensitive internal tissues and organs.
In addition to the above eye-opening discussion about the impact of simple oxidative stress, the presence of iron (an abundant essential element in our blood’s oxygen-carrying hemoglobin) converts hydrogen peroxide into the primary oxidant that damages DNA. Iron presents a significant biological paradox. Iron is essential for many cellular functions, we cannot live without it, yet iron can also catalyze the destructive oxidation of biomolecules and initiate a variety of deadly diseases (such as atherosclerosis, cancer and diabetes.). For example, extremely-reactive highly-destructive hydroxyl radicals can be formed by the “Fenton reaction” (such as in the reaction of iron with ascorbic acid – vitamin C). Iron-mediated hydroxyl radicals are much more active and damaging than powerful toxins like chlorine (found in the banned pesticide DDT, household bleach, swimming pools, and in diet products containing sucralose / Splenda).
There is a very fine (measurable) line between the minimum level of iron that we must have to remain healthy, and what is excessive. Children and menstruating women need iron to build and replace red blood cells, but iron supplements that are indiscriminately added to most multivitamins and flour products like bread, cakes and cookies can be very harmful to a large number of people with high serum ferritin (SF) levels (hemochromatosis).
Ferritin is an iron-protein complex in blood that is a marker for iron storage. A study published in the February 11, 2004 Journal of the American Medical Association found that people with elevated SF had nearly a threefold increase in the development of type 2 diabetes, which causes a complex variety of devastating diseases.
Too much iron stored in our tissues can do severe damage our cells, tissues and internal organs. For the many men over 40 and post-menopausal women with high iron storage, the iron supplements in most multivitamins and commercial flour / bread products can do serious organ and DNA damage.
Excess iron accumulates in the liver causing liver enlargement and cascading damage to many other organs. Excess iron can cause the liver enzyme tests of people with high iron counts to look like those of people who have been badly abusing alcohol for many years (even though they never drink a drop of alcohol). This can drastically reduce longevity and quality of life. The double damage caused by high iron plus alcohol (whether consumed or generated internally by yeasts from bread, etc.) can combine to destroy the liver. The complications of an expensive (rare) liver transplant have many extremely negative implications. Excess iron can cause diabetes (pancreas and insulin receptor damage), cardio vascular damage and arthritis, all of which accelerate the rate of aging, pain, suffering, and ultimately the needless tragedy of early death.
Tissue iron measurably accumulates as a function of age. Menstruating women monthly reduce their iron levels, but many men (especially over age 40) and postmenopausal women develop excessively high iron storage (as shown by SF level above 20 ng/ml, in a simple blood test).
”Hemochromatosis” (excessive tissue iron storage) is the result of ingesting and absorbing too much iron or iron supplements (common in many multivitamins and almost all bread / flour products). Hemochromatosis damage can be aggravated and accelerated by ingestion of (otherwise beneficial) vitamin C, which enhances iron absorption and triggers the Fenton reaction introduced above.
There is an inherited “HFE gene” (on chromosome 6 in human DNA) that is statistically linked to excessive tissue iron build up. Hemochromatosis is one of the most commonly inherited genetic disorders. Many people at risk are not aware of the potential problem, and thus, cannot understand the cause-and-effect relationship between their iron intake and the diseases that they and their relatives are having. Mutations in the HFE gene (C282Y and H63D) can contribute significantly to the likelihood of developing “hereditary hemochromatosis” (HHC). An accurate test is now available for these commonly inherited HFE gene mutations. (See American Hemochromatosis Society)
The human body has no mechanism to lower excessive iron levels other than blood loss, such as menstruation, periodic blood donation or therapeutic phlebotomy. The Hemochromatosis Foundation explicitly states that “chelation or taking supplements of vitamins, minerals, herbs, antioxidants”, etc. are NOT recommended by their scientific advisory board for the hereditary form of hemochromatosis. These alternative treatments (which have been recommended by some uninformed, deluded-or-dishonest quacks) can interfere with the rapid elimination of excess body iron and may hasten the onset of serious injury, especially to the liver, which can be deadly. For example, (otherwise beneficial) vitamin C is well known to enhance tissue iron absorption, which may be good for children and menstruating women, but very bad for people with any form of excess tissue iron storage. Even familiar vitamin C is NOT always good for all people of all ages.
Both males and females show progressive iron accumulation and storage with age, which increases significantly in post-menopausal women (who in turn have much higher incidence of type 2 diabetes and breast cancer). Importantly, blood and breast iron levels are known to be high in breast cancer patients. Excess iron levels are directly linked to breast cancer development (through our body’s increased production of free radical oxidants like hydrogen peroxide).
Thus, iron levels should be regularly monitored in older people, and especially in those who are at hereditary risk or who have previously been shown to be high. Excess iron has many long-term potentially-devastating impacts, and should be dealt with quickly, as soon as it is detected, before permanent irreversible damage is done to almost every organ in the body.
“Once the diagnosis of hereditary Hemochromatosis / iron overload has been made …, the patient should be aggressively phlebotomized by prescription using the following criteria until serum ferritin (storage iron) is brought to 20 ng/ml or less. The prescription should read: “Phlebotomize this patient (remove blood to lower stored iron) one to two times per week as long as hematocrit remains >35% and until serum ferritin is lower than 20. Diagnosis: Hemochromatosis"
Once the serum ferritin is below 20 ng/ml, the patient should go on a maintenance phlebotomy program, usually three to four times annually, for the rest of his/her life. Clinicians who do not have experience with hemochromatosis diagnosis/treatment should consult a medical expert. AHS can provide such experts for consultation.
The age-related progression of baby boomer hemochromatosis is placing an ever-increasing burden on scarce medical subsidy funds. The serious public health impact of excess iron build up and concerned consumer / patient advocacy groups finally motivated the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) to recently sponsor a scientific study is to validate the association between the common mutations in the HFE gene and the development of hereditary Hemochromatosis (HHC). The NIH-sponsored study will also search for other genes that may be involved in excess iron storage. This important human genome epidemiological genotyping study of HHC will analyze a broad cross-section of over 100,000 Americans of varying geographic, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, to document risk profiles for hemochromatosis.
Patients found with high SF iron overload (of any type or origin) should be warned not to:
Even people with the non-hereditary form of excess iron accumulation (as shown in blood tests) should probably follow the above instructions for patients with HHC iron overload, including NOT eating bread products.
For people with any form of iron overload, vitamin C should be consumed only as limited amounts of natural fruits and vegetables, NOT in concentrated supplement or juice form (which rapidly increase its level in the blood steam). People with iron overload should not consume vitamin C within two hours of eating high-iron foods like red meats, internal organ meat, and spinach. Green tea is a useful antioxidant that also reduces the absorption of iron. It may be useful for people with high iron to drink (decaffeinated) green tea while eating foods that contain large amounts of iron. There are many people who should follow these individualized recommendations.
In contrast, people with low iron counts (such as growing children and menstruating women) should eat natural foods that contain vitamin C, and avoid green tea while eating high-iron foods.
You cannot know what is correct for you without proper blood tests. Be aware that your blood test results will change significantly over time based on your age, rate of aging, nutrition, exercise, the way you deal with stress, and diverse environmental conditions. A qualified physician or health professional is required to interpret blood tests, but be aware that many medical doctors have very little training or awareness of how to deal with the nutrition and metabolic differences between individuals.
If your blood tests (or other factors such as blood pressure, body weight, etc.) show any variation from “normal” ranges, take the time to study the underlying indicator and related health, disease and aging issues. Have regular tests to monitor the progress of your disease. Obtain biofeedback devices for self-monitoring of your particular problems (weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, pH, etc). Keep cause-and-effect logs of the foods you eat, exercise, the way you deal with stress, etc. Learn what you do that makes your disease better or worse. Be vigilant until the problem is eliminated or at least controlled. Watch for new research that can be helpful.
Seek input from multiple information sources. ALL humans make mistakes every day. No human knows everything about the issues that influence your health. Reading scientific input form multiple diverse information sources, and aggressive disease prevention thought processes are much better than trying to deal with a devastating preventable disease like heart disease, cancer or liver damage after it occurs.
It is likely that simple lifestyle changes can greatly improve your health test results, reduce your rate of aging, and help prevent many forms of devastating diseases. Continue seeking information and improving your lifestyle until all or your health tests are well within acceptable norms.
The Wonderful News
Naturally-occurring antioxidants (which organically reduce the decay rate of fruits, vegetables, fish and animal tissue) can greatly slow many of our own aging processes and significantly postpone, or even entirely eliminate, the onset of endless age-related, deadly disease processes – from cancer, to diabetes, to many neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and even alcohol-related cancers and dementia.
The potential benefits are highly individualized – No single solution is appropriate for everyone, (as explained in the previous section about iron, vitamin C and green tea). Each one of us must seek our own nutrition information, exercise program and understand the unique requirements of our body and mind, which change significantly over time. You should be very skeptical about anyone who offers a universal solution to everyone (for example, vitamin C and iron supplements are good for some, but very bad for many others).
When our natural production of protective antioxidants (like catalase, etc.) declines with age, we begin to age more rapidly. It is a viscous, snowball cycle of accelerating decline, unnecessary pain, suffering and early death. As we age, it becomes increasingly important that we replace our decreasing natural antioxidants with antioxidants that are readily available in many natural food sources.
Just imagine, billions of older people who have previously suffered and died, and those who are currently suffering from many painful debilitating diseases, did so needlessly, IF ONLY they had understood what we now know about the issues and benefits of various lifestyle choices, and how we can greatly slow down many aging processes, which were thought to be unavoidable.
We have all seen older people in varying degrees of decline, disease, pain and suffering. We can ask them about their lifestyle choices and gain a little bit of imprecise anecdotal information. But, it is very clear that some people seem to do much better than the majority, and are happy and healthy at over 90 years of age.
Absolutely not! Genetics clearly play a partial role, but lifestyle choices about nutrition, exercise, mental activities, etc. have a dramatic impact on our rate of aging. Antioxidants are now known to be a major piece of the complete individualized antiaging puzzle.
What is an enzyme? Enzymes are protein molecules from a plant or an animal. Enzymes act as a “catalyst” and facilitates specific metabolic chemical reactions, usually without itself being permanently altered or destroyed. The blueprint for all of the enzymes produced by any living thing is encoded in its DNA.
The name “enzyme” comes from a Greek term meaning “in yeast.” Early studies of enzymes often involved yeast reactions. Enzymes are essential to all growth, repair, life processes (and genetic research). Enzymes exist in our bodies and our foods. Our genetic blueprint determines the enzymes we produce, which in turn determines countless individual human characteristics.
The enzymes inside us are determined both by our DNA, AND by the foods we eat. As we age, we produce fewer enzymes, while our need for nutritional enzyme support increases. If we do not ingest sufficient replacement antioxidants, we will get very sick and die an unnecessary early death.
There are many different types of antioxidants. Not all antioxidants are enzymes. Antioxidants are either nutrients (which are periodically depleted) or catalytic enzymes (and some are both). Antioxidants mop up damaging free radicals (from pollution, smoking, alcohol, normal biochemical metabolism, etc.), to slow or eliminate damage to body tissues, which can trigger heart disease, nerve death, internal organ failure, cancer, etc. Like tiny paper towels, depleted (used up, non-catalytic) antioxidants must be continually purged from our body and replaced.
Exposure to oxidative free radicals, and intake of natural antioxidants are among the most important of all age-related nutrition issues. All of our bodies need nutritional support against the many devastating diseases, cellular decay and DNA mutations caused by oxidative free radical compounds. We have previously explained in detail why our need for antioxidants increases with age. There are many very-healthy natural food sources that contain a wide variety of powerful antioxidants, which counteract and protect against the diseases caused by countless destructive free radicals (10K per cell per day).
Most of our raw natural food sources start out with some type of antioxidant (before we prepare them). Just like humans produce internal protective compounds, so do many of the best fresh foods that we eat. The organic antioxidants in fruits and vegetables (that have not been genetically altered or damaged by cooking, pesticides or pollution) are often at their peak when the food ripens. Without the naturally occurring antioxidants, the ripe food would decay very rapidly. Nature designed customized antioxidants into our foods to significantly slow down the natural organic aging process. Antioxidants are nature’s “fountain of youth.” The sooner that we discover what it takes to slow the aging process, the longer, healthier and happier we will live.
Even a casual observation makes it clear that the skin of people who spend a lot of time in the sun ages much more rapidly than those who avoid the sun. Ultraviolet (UV) light accelerates aging and skin cell mutations. The same thing is true in plants. Unlike humans, plants need sunlight to perform essential photosynthesis growth processes, but too much sunlight can “burn up” any plant (the same way it damages human skin).
Many antioxidants are naturally formed to protect plants from the cellular damage caused by UV sunlight. Plant pigments (bright colors, especially red) contain diverse antioxidants. When we eat more plant pigments, we have more vitality and we age more slowly. For example, without their pigment, tomatoes, grapes, peppers, etc. would burn up quickly in direct sunlight. Red peppers and grapes produce much more beneficial antioxidants than the green varieties.
Little known fact: When humans eat high-antioxidant fruits and vegetables, we sunburn more slowly (and we slow the rate of aging of many of our internal cells, tissues and organs). Brightly colored fruits and many vegetables contain a variety of helpful antioxidants with many different antiaging benefits to humans. Here is one similar example from non-food plants: Red flowering plants like camellias can tolerate the intense full Florida summer sun much better than white or pink camellias can, (which survive only in shady areas.
Modern pesticides, preservatives, cooking and food preparation processes routinely pollute and destroy many of the natural nutrients, antioxidant benefits and valuable digestive enzymes.
Food has a life span. Ripe organic fruits and vegetables have peak levels of nutrients the moment they are picked. Their antioxidants are used up the longer it is before the food is eaten. Food in the produce department of supermarkets is often days old and much of its antioxidant benefits may have been degraded (depending on the food and how it was grown, harvested, processed, stored and transported). Flash-frozen foods often retain nutrients (which are lost by the time unfrozen foods arrive at our local grocery stores). If we eat recently picked or flash-frozen healthy food without pesticides, it may be very beneficial, whereas old degenerated food covered with agricultural toxins can be harmful, or even deadly over time.
The process of cooking often breaks down nutrients and uses up their natural antioxidants. For this reason, people who have studied biochemical processes are rapidly learning that uncooked fresh organic fruits and vegetables can be much healthier for us than the tradition way that vegetables were cooked and eaten by our parents (if they are properly cleaned and contain no toxic pesticides or unnatural preservatives).
The exception to this statement about uncooked foods is that many foods have naturally occurring molds, fungi, bacteria or virus that must be carefully cleaned or heated to make them safe. Unlike most fruits and vegetables, meats and fish usually need to be cooked to an internal temperature of around 160 degrees Fahrenheit, to kill viral and bacterial organisms (like deadly ecoli, etc.) from the contaminated sources, which are now common in our mass-produced and foreign imported animal foods. There is now a high risk from eating raw or undercooked meat or fish, especially from unknown sources. Ground meat like hamburger and sausage made from many different animals has a much higher probably of contamination than do steaks and roasts from one healthy animal. Eggs from modern mass-produced chickens (who constantly recycle their own excrements) MUST be thoroughly cooked.
One serious food preparation problem is that humans often cook at temperatures above 350 degrees, which rapidly destroys many vitamins, antioxidants and enzymes. Most “high-glycemic index” products like sugars, flour, bread, potatoes, are very bad for overweight people anyway (See our material on Sugar). When you heat many sugary, starch foods at high temperatures, they break down into toxic carcinogens (cancer starters).
For many reasons, the antioxidants (etc.) found in raw foods are valuable to our health. Most cooked foods lose some valuable nutrients due to their fragile nature. Nutrient ants in boiled foods often go down the drain.
High temperature cooking produces well-known cancer-causing agents like “acrylamides” and “heterocyclic amines.” Antioxidants can reduce the risk of many carcinogens, but you should carefully consider the following new news that your mother never understood:
Acrylamide is found in many baked, roasted and fried starchy foods like bread, cakes, crackers, french fries, potato chips and roasted starchy vegetables. In the Spring of 2002, Swedish scientists found a clue to the chemical reaction that causes starchy foods to build up high levels of acrylamide. Acrylamide is formed when “asparagine” (a naturally occurring amino acid) is heated with natural sugars (which is very common in modern cooking).
Acrylamide has long been used industrially in the manufacture of some plastics. It is a white, odorless, flaky crystal. Acrylamide is well-known to cause cancer and its industrial exposure is tightly controlled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The World Health Organization (WHO) limits cancer-causing acrylamide to less than one microgram (one-millionth of a gram) per liter (about a quart) of drinking water. If you drink 8 glasses of water per day, you should be exposed to no more than 2 micrograms of acrylamide.
The 2002 Swedish discovery of the asparagine-to-acrylamide reaction surprised and frightened most public health officials, because of the recently-discovered high danger of today’s pervasive high-temperature cooking of very common foods. A bag of potato chips can contain a thousand times more acrylamide than the maximum level allowed in drinking water by WHO.
When Canada's government discovered the asparagine-to-acrylamide chemical reaction, they quickly ordered food manufacturers to look for ways to lower acrylamide levels in their products. Procter & Gamble Co. stated that its scientists have found the asparagine / acrylamide connection in their foods. September 27, 2002, P&G said that its testing found high levels of acrylamide in such previously unimplicated foods such as roasted asparagus and banana chips. Three days later, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told consumer groups and food manufacturers that its has made determining how to lower acrylamide levels in food one of its highest research priorities. Most Americans still do not have a clue about this recently discovered high-temperature cooking health issue.
“Heterocyclic amines” are found in muscle meats and fish that are cooked on grills, griddles, skillets, broilers and rotisseries. Carcinogens are also concentrated in gravies made from slow-baked meats and roasts. Thanksgiving turkey gravy and baked stuffing contain a significant quantity and variety of cancer-causing agents.
Many people think that it is safe to cook on barbeque grills, since their fathers told them that the high temperature “kills the germs,” but back yard and restaurant grilling is actually causing cancer in countless individuals, who don’t have a clue about the underlying cause-and-effect. Those tasty black stripes on grilled meats contain well-documented carcinogens. The black material that remains on uncleaned barbeque grills is loaded with heterocyclic amines. Would you lick cigarette ashes? Why eat grilled food with burned organic compounds on it? American taste buds need to be re-educated.
The serious problem with humans understanding the ultimate cause-and-effect of many carcinogens is that the long-term effect may take decades. When Americans eat one hamburger and french fries, and rinse it down with sugar water and carbonic acid, we usually do not experience any immediate health impact.
However, our natural youthful ability to defend against daily exposure to carcinogens decreases with age, long after our cooking, eating, drinking and other lifestyle habits are firmly established. Most people do not question the traditional foods and cooking methods used by their loving mothers on dads at the picnic BBQ.
The older we get, the more important it becomes to recognize, avoid and defend against the things that can cause deadly diseases. Some carcinogens have a long-term cumulative impact, which is not noticed by younger people. For example, one severe ultraviolet sunburn suffered as a child, may not manifest itself as a serious skin cancer for thirty to fifty years. One time exposure to the drug “ecstasy” kills dopamine-producing cells, which can lead to Parkinson’s disease (Michael J. Fox, et.al.) a decade or more later. The time for HIV to mature into deadly AIDS can be significant (during which time promiscuous individuals can infect countless others). Parents must study such issues and teach their children as early as possible.
Traditional high-temperature baking, frying, grilling, etc. can be extremely unhealthy. Quick steaming or microwaving quick-frozen, or very-fresh foods in inert glass (like Pyrex® or Corningware® containers) is MUCH healthier than higher temperatures and longer cooking times in aluminum cookware or BBQ grills.
Aluminum storage, packaging (cans) and cookware (pots, pans and foil) should always be avoided. Aluminum oxides (the gray material on aluminum cookware) is neurotoxic and has been linked to increased risk of neurodegenerative disease (including the devastating Alzheimer’s disease). Even stainless steel, and ESPECIALLY iron cookware interact with all acidic foods (like otherwise healthy tomatoes). Excessive iron accumulation is linked to cancer and a long list of internal organ diseases including liver disease, diabetes, etc.
The amount of destruction of vitamins, antioxidants and enzymes, and the production of known carcinogens (acrylamide, heterocyclic amines, etc.) is based on the time and temperature of cooking – Hotter and longer is much worse. Uncooked foods are generally much healthier, except for the need to quickly kill harmful bacteria, which only requires a temperature around 160 degrees - well below the boiling point of water, BBQ grills and ovens.
In addition to killing common bacteria like the salmonella that is pervasive in American poultry, beneficial egg whites must be completely cooked to avoid “biotin depletion.” Biotin is one of the essential B vitamins. We cannot live without biotin in our diet. It helps us metabolize protein.
Many natural uncooked foods contain antioxidants and enzymes – proteins made up of amino acids that act as a catalyst and aid in the metabolism of our food, so the body can use it effectively. The higher the temperature used to prepare a food, the more likely that the three dimensional chemical structure of its enzymes will denature and become inactive, ineffective, or a toxic, cancer-causing mutagen that damages the DNA genetic blueprint for all of our cells.
(See our material on The Damage Done By Cooking and Improper Food Preparation)
New techniques are slowly being introduced that kill harmful bacteria with minimal damage to vitamins, antioxidants and enzymes. Some foods that used to be refrigerated are now irradiated and packaged in room temperature plastic containers. We can only hope that new problems are not discovered with this new technology in the future, and that eventually well-tested-and-proven food preparation and storage methods will become pervasive in the marketplace, but the general public does not understand the underlying issues.
Until new food preparation technology replaces traditional high-temperature cooking techniques, acrylamides, heterocyclic amines, etc. will continue to be the source of many digestive tract cancers. People who suffer such devastating damage may never understand the long-term cause-and-effect risk factors that induced their pain, suffering and even death. Mothers may not realize than the traditional cooking techniques used by grandma, and granddad at the BBQ grill, are doing long-term damage to their ofspring.
Antioxidants (that are NOT cooked in metals or at high temperatures) can significantly mitigate the high risk of many well-documented cancer-causing substances. For hundreds of years, innocent mistakes of cooking and poor nutrition have caused cancer, disease, and unnecessary suffering throughout our entire modern society. Cooking not only destroys valuable vitamins and antioxidants that delay or prevent disease, but cooking also destroys many of the other natural organic protein enzymes that we need to digest and metabolize the foods they are found in. Chemicals like residual toxic pesticides and preservatives also degrade the quality of our foods and add oxidative stress, BUT even if we exclusively eat fresh-picked high-quality certified-organic food, the process of traditional cooking can wipe out much of its value to us.
The food preparation techniques that our mothers taught us can increase oxidative stress, make the food harder to digest, and reduce the value of eating otherwise good foods. The result is that the uneducated masses eat unhealthy empty calories, get fat (in epidemic proportions), get sick, are depressed, lose productivity, add a burden to their families and society, suffer pointlessly, and die much earlier than they ought to of “incurable age-related diseases.” Simple well-thought lifestyle changes can reduce or eliminate many such sad problems.
Very few mothers, medical doctors, internal specialists, world-class chefs, holistic therapists, certified dieticians or government agencies fully understand this valuable prevention message.
We hope that you are becoming overwhelmingly convinced that most of us need antioxidant nutritional support, especially older people in our modern polluted world of contaminated food and water. We will now discuss many diverse sources of the necessary solution to many health problems.
Quite often there are perfectly good and valuable enzymes readily available in nature. However, they cannot be patented, and there is very-little economic incentive to advertise and promote them for the good of the entire society.
Pharmaceutical manufactures are now looking for ways to modify wonderful natural enzymes and produce unnatural substances that CAN be patented and promoted as extremely profitable proprietary health products. A great deal of modern medicine research and development has recently refocused on the great value of natural enzymes. The most popular (and profitable) prescription drug ever marketed is an enzyme that was introduced only a few years ago.
One problem with the enormous economic incentive to develop patentable, unnatural, proprietary enzyme drugs is that they intentionally overlook useful natural solutions. (By definition ALL profitable patentable drugs MUST be unnatural substances.)
Another devastating problem is that they unnatural drugs can only be tested on a small sample of individuals. Years later, a portion of the population may discover very negative side effects and consequences from taking the new drug. Thousands of people have now died within a few hours of taking the unnatural prescription enzyme that is the most popular prescription medication ever created. The huge profits of its owner allow they to defend it legally, until its patent runs out and they introduce yet another unnatural replacement.
All of this is a very sad statement about our modern medical system motivation. Modern medical doctors are exclusively trained in surgery and prescription drugs. Sadly, most have very little exposure to simple nutrition information, and rarely to modern nutrition research findings. If they offer any guidance to their patients, it is often very obsolete misunderstanding of complex metabolic processes.
It is extremely sad, but our bureaucratic government’s misunderstanding of the critical issues lags decades behind modern nutritional research findings from our top universities. Clear evidence of this is the continuing promotion of the out-dated food pyramid, which promotes excessive carbohydrate overloading, leading to increasing morbid obesity, and totally ignores the high value of antioxidant nutritional support. There are many other things wrong with government nutritional education efforts, which we are trying to overcome with these important antiaging articles.
Enzymes are extremely diverse. No one fully understands all of them to this day, but it is quite clear that antioxidant enzymes have a dramatic impact on slowing the various complex processes of aging. The investment in antioxidant education should GREATLY INCREASE.
Here is one spectacular example. Years ago, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was presented with a clinical research report that documented an 80% REDUCTION IN THE RISK FOR ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE BY TAKING ONLY ONE VITAMIN C PILL AND ONE VITAMIN E CAPSULE PER WEEK.
40 years ago, a Canadian research report had documented the high value of NATURAL vitamin E in reducing the risk of heart disease, but sadly, our government has failed to properly educate the general public, or even the medical specialists in heart disease or neurodegenerative disease.
The incidence of Alzheimer’s (Ronald Reagan) disease increases rapidly when individuals reach retirement age, as the American baby boom generation is about to do. If the current rates of Alzheimer’s disease remain true for the Bill Clinton, Al Gore, George W. Bush generation, the entire federal government medical budget will be consumed by that one disease alone in 15 to 20 years. Just imagine, as a purely preventative measure, the government could be encouraging the population to take a little bit of proven-effective vitamin C and natural vitamin E to reduce the Alzheimer’s risk by 80% and a huge amount of needless pain, suffering, burden on families, save billions of future federal medical budget dollars.
The NIH is slowly studying Alzheimer’s prevention, but failing to educate the masses about well-documented antioxidant nutrition support. This apparently is because the medical and pharmaceutical industries would lose billions of dollars if the simple solution to much of the baby boom Alzheimer’s epidemic solution does not require a prescription. The powerful political lobby that has blocked funding of the education of the masses is an appalling observation of extreme corruption and greed.
We can buy vitamin C and high gamma natural vitamin E at WalMart, Walgreens, and many other discount stores for just pennies each. Medical research scientists know the high value of these common antioxidants and encourage their families to take them. But pharmaceutical companies, and the corrupt government officials that they control, remain silent and pursue unnatural, patentable, profitable proprietary products, while the neurons, brains and central nervous systems of most baby boomers are aging much more rapidly than necessary, and permanent irreversible damage is done ever day. Even when people present themselves to medical doctors with neurological disorders, many doctors fail to recommend inexpensive non-prescription antioxidants as a first course of prevention or treatment. How very sad a situation this is. It is a poor reflection of the selfish motives of the leaders of our society, but YOU my friend now know the truth, and you can tell it to your friends and loved ones.
The U.S. pharmaceutical industry has an enormous monetary incentive to fund research that says natural foods, vitamins, etc. do not help prevent or reduce diseases. They obviously would much rather have you depend on their unnatural patented prescription drugs, which generate huge profits for both the suppliers and those who get paid to prescribe them.
Antioxidants are NOT the complete answer to any complex medical issue, an excess of some antioxidants can actually cause certain health problems (discussed below). But in many cases, antioxidants can be beneficial, low-cost, low-risk, simple starting point, while you work out your individual health issues. Some form of this information should be mandatory material in all high school students, since our corrupt government agencies are so very far behind modern research.
There is no single antioxidant source that provides everything we need. We should exploit a diverse menu of vegetable and animal antioxidants that are water-based (like vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, biotin, folate & pantothenate) or oil / fat-based (like vitamin A, D, E, F & K). These antioxidants have widely varied characteristics, biological functions and health benefits. No single antioxidant source is sufficient for all of the body’s many different needs. A balance of broad-spectrum antioxidant source diversity is essential, since there are so many antiaging benefits that different antioxidants provide. Our need for antioxidant supplementation (proper nutrition) increases significantly as we age and our bodies produce fewer of them internally.
Today, many people have heard the term “antioxidants”, but few understand much about them. What exactly are they, what does each one do, and what are their best sources?
Simple Definition: Antioxidants are either nutrients or enzymes (and sometimes both). They “mop up” (neutralize) harmful “free radical oxidizers” inside our bodies.
Free radicals (resulting from smoking, alcohol consumption, pollution, electronic ionizers, and incomplete metabolism) can easily damage the tissues of our body. The Free radicals have been clearly linked with the onset of many deadly diseases including heart disease and cancer – the most significant killers of Americans.
Antioxidant compounds are found in many natural foods, including the pigments of many ripened fruits and vegetables, which need natural protection at the time they are most ripe from the factors that will eventually lead to their decomposition. For example, the pigment in dark grapes and tomatoes prevent them from sun burning. Such fruits can be dried in the sun without decaying or rotting. When we eat these beneficial antioxidant fruits and vegetabes, we will sunburn, rot and decay more slowly. (smile)
Nutritional supplement support is often needed for heart and circulatory conditions such as vascular degeneration, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, varicose veins, thinning / weak blood vessel walls, internal organ degeneration, diabetes, neurological degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, hemorrhoids, etc.
Some examples of the valuable antiaging antioxidants that are naturally produced by young healthy humans are certain metabolic enzymes such as; superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione reductase, gluthathinone S-transferase, and quinone reductase. Genetic defects, disease, aging and poor nutrition can decrease the production of these essential antioxidants, and increase our need for improved nutrition or nutritional supplements. Manganese, zinc, copper, and selenium are essential minerals found in a healthy diverse diet that are used by our bodies as foundational building blocks to construct antiaging antioxidant enzymes.
Healthy natural external dietary antioxidant sources include vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B2 and B6, beta carotene (source of vitamin A), vitamin P (flavonoids), lutein, lycopene, niacin, coenzyme Q10, and cystine. Coenzyme Q10 has a multitude of health benefits including acting as an antioxidant.
Beta carotene, lutein, and lycopene are the protective pigments (lipochromes) found naturally in red-yellow fresh vegetables like tomatoes and carrots. Too much of a good thing can be harmful. For example, in the levels found in natural food sources, beta carotene prolongs a healthy life, but at the levels found in many beta carotene food supplements, beta carotene has been shown in clinical tests to increase the risk factor for certain types of cancer.
Polyphenols (found in green tea, grapes, walnuts, etc.) belong to the class of vitamin P compounds known as flavonoids. Polyphenols include a number of beneficial compounds such as catechins, flavanones, flavonols, isoflavones, chlorogenic acid, coumarylquinic acid and green tea theogallin (3-galloylquinic acid).
Flavonoids are organic plant substances that contain the protective pigment flavone in various combinations with varying beneficial properties. Other flavonoids include quercetin, quercitrin, rutin, and hesperidin. Both tea and grapes have three of the most powerful flavonoids; catechins, epicatechins, and gallic acid. In oxidized green tea (black and oolong) there are less of the catechins, but there are other beneficial compounds, formed during oxidation, such as theaflavins, thearubigins, bisflavanols, and epitheaflavic acids.
Some sources of antioxidants, like red wine, have both good and bad characteristics, such as the neurotoxic impact of the alcohol in wine. The good flavonoid antioxidant characteristics of red wine can be found (much less expensively) in grape seed extract, without the well-known destructive properties of alcohol.
Grape seed extract that is made with red grape skin pigments has been shown to be 50 times more effective as an antioxidant that vitamin E. Commonly-available grape seed extract adheres to connective tissue, which makes it very useful in protecting against vascular diseases like varicose veins, strokes and the degenerative processes that lead to artherosclerosis. Grape seed extract has also been shown to accelerate connective tissue repair and wound healing with reduced scaring.
The primary antioxidant in grape seed is proanthocyanidin. Grape seed extract is naturally purple. Grape seed extract supplements that are white appear to contain a significant amount of non-beneficial fillers. Grape seed extract can be taken as an effective antioxidant food supplement or used in the topical treatment of wounds.
Phytosterols, unsaturated fats and potassium in pistachios have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.
There are many good, reliable, inexpensive sources of most antioxidants, but the FDA does NOT regulate their contents, study or endorse their benefits, problems, limitations, interactions or side effects. Unregulated natural food supplements can vary significantly from one source to another, and even from batch to batch. Some food supplements may contain harmful contaminants (like the contaminant found in natural 5-htp, which the Mayo Clinic says is linked to a rare form of blood disease).
Some antioxidant sources are significantly better than others. For example NATURAL vitamin E (labeled d-alpha tocopherol) can be more beneficial than the common low-cost form of synthetic vitamin E (dl-alpha tocopherol). If you shop around, you can find natural vitamin E (d, not dl) for only slightly more than synthetic vitamin E, but you need to know what to look for on the label.
A 50-year-old Canadian study of natural vitamin E showed a significant reduction of heart disease. When Americans repeated the study with synthetic vitamin E, they did not get the same results. The American medical profession (with a strong training bias toward prescription drugs) incorrectly concluded that vitamin E was not as beneficial as the Canadians had clearly documented in a statistically significant study. The tragic result has been that countless Americans have died from heart disease that might have been prevented with simple dietary changes, or natural vitamin E supplementation.
It is also important to understand the best time to take different food supplements. For example, it is best to take grape seed extract half an hour before meals, (and not in combination with some other food supplements at the same time). Failure to understand such issues may (slightly) reduce the effectiveness of what you consume.
See the previous discussion of how iron supplements (in bread, etc.) plus vitamin C can be deadly for a large number of Americans with various forms of “hemochromatosis” (even though many of them have not been diagnosed, and are unaware of their disease).
Consider Grapefruit. It is a sometimes-beneficial citrus fruit that contains powerful antioxidants. However, grapefruit has one important negative characteristic that other citrus fruits do not have (discussed below). Grapefruit plus certain medications can kill.
Grapefruit Health Benefits
Grapefruit has some good characteristics that are common to all citrus fruits (like vitamin C, which fights common colds and protects the aqueous interior of all human cells from free radical attacks). A serving of grapefruit has more than the daily requirement of vitamin C, but less than fifteen percent of the following nutrients.
Grapefruit has beneficial vitamin A (available from many other common dietary sources) and potassium (which many Americans do not consume enough of). The pulp of citrus fruits including grapefruit contain “glucarates” - compounds which may help prevent breast cancer.
There are variations in grapefruit characteristics and benefits from one variety to another. Red and pink grapefruit has “lycopene” (found elsewhere in tomatoes, apricots and the less-common seasonal red navel orange). Lycopene is an aggressive antioxidant that has been clinically demonstrated to scavenge free radicals and have cancer preventive characteristics. Lycopene from different sources is now being added to many newer multiple-vitamin food supplements.
Grapefruit “limonoids” inhibit tumor formation by promoting the formation of “glutathione-S-transferase”, which is a detoxifying enzyme. This enzyme sparks a reaction in the liver that helps to make toxic compounds more water soluble for excretion from the body.
Grapefruit (not grapefruit juice) is high in beneficial water soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, which helps lower its glycemic index, reduce blood glucose instability, and remove bad cholesterol from the system (particularly soluble “grapefruit pectin” found in the rind and membranes surrounding grapefruit sections).
Pectin (also found in apple skins, etc.) is a form of soluble fiber that forms a gel-like substance in the intestinal tract. Pectin is like a sticky sponge that can trap fats like ingested and liver-produced cholesterol and help remove them from the system.
In animal studies, grapefruit pectin inhibited the formation of atherosclerosis. Animals fed a high-cholesterol diet plus grapefruit pectin had 24% narrowing of their arteries, while animals fed only the high-cholesterol diet had a more dangerous 45% narrowing, which greatly increases the risk of sudden heart failure. Numerous grapefruit diet plans have demonstrated short-term weight loss, which can reduce the risk of type II diabetes, etc. But long-term consumption of large quantities of grapefruit can have an adverse impact on “acidosis” (excess blood and tissue acidity, with cascading health impacts).
There are many documented health benefits derived from consuming antioxidant grapefruit, BUT in some rare cases, even a small amount of grapefruit over a short period of time can be deadly.
First of all Joyful Aging does NOT want to imply that oxidation (redox) is always bad and antioxidants are always good. Quite the contrary, oxidation is a normal part of many absolutely essentioal human metabolic processes. All of us MUST breathe in oxygen. Our blood transports oxygen to every cell in our body. Glucose is oxidized (burned as life-giving energy), and we eventually exhale carbon dioxide as a redox byproduct of oxidation.
If we could block all metabolic oxidation (which we cannot), we would suffocate immediately. It is the “free radical” extremely-active form of redox-causing molecule that is generally detrimental, but sometimes very beneficial to our internal metabolic processes.
Grapefruit is a powerful, aggressive antioxidant. You should check with your healthcare practitioner if you're taking pharmaceutical drugs (either prescription or over-the-counter) with grapefruit or grapefruit juice. This is especially important when starting a grapefruit weight loss diet (NOT recommended by Joyful Aging).
Over 200 medications become dangerous when combined within three days of only one serving of grapefruit.
Compounds in grapefruit juice, including “naringenin”, slow some of the normal detoxification and metabolic processes in our intestines and liver, which hinders the body's ability to breakdown and eliminate these drugs and other toxins.
Naringenin inactivates (prevents the normal redox of) a metabolic enzyme in the small intestine (“cytochrome P450 3A4”) that breaks down statin drugs (which are often prescribed to lower cholesterol).
Grapefruit also inhibits “P-glycoprotein”, a carrier molecule produced in the intestinal wall that would normally transport the statin drug back to the gut.
Drug manufactures, and the doctors who prescribe them, assume that grapefruit has not been consumed within the last three days. They assume that cytochrome P450 3A4 and P-glycoprotein are functioning normally and that a certain portion of the drug will be broken down by them. This assumption is critical in determining correct dosage.
The end result of the two metabolism-inhibiting characteristics of grapefruit is that a dangerous overdose of the unmetabolized statin drug will enter the circulation system. This leads to a build up of liver-inhibiting statin levels that can be quite dangerous, and may trigger a rare-but-deadly statin-associated disease called “rhabdomyolysis.” This disease affects muscle tissue, usually causing weakness or temporary paralysis, which can result in sudden death through cardiac arrest.
Although rare, this is one clear case where a natural antioxidant combined with a potentially-dangerous prescription statin drug can be life threatening. If you know anyone who is taking one of the 200+ drugs that interact with grapefruit, ask them if their doctor took the time to prudently discuss the potentially deadly grapefruit conflict with them. Many have not. They are just too busy with “HMO overload.” They don’t have (or take) time to read or have comprehensive discussions with their patients. In my opinion, this is pervasive, deadly, negligent medical malpractice.
Grapefruit and Pesticide Residue - Virtually all municipal drinking water in the United States contains small amounts of pesticide residues, and with the exception of carefully-grown organic foods, so do the majority of foods in the U.S. food supply. Even though pesticides are present in food at very small trace levels, their cumulative negative impact on health is well documented.
The liver’s ability to detoxify, the cells’ ability to produce energy, and the nerves’ ability to survive and send messages can all be compromised by pesticide exposure. Individuals wanting to avoid these health risks may want to avoid consumption of grapefruit unless grown organically, since grapefruit is among the 20 foods in which pesticide residues have been most frequently found and grapefruit can reduce the body’s ability to detoxify the food we eat.
The following is a partial list of some of the 200+ drugs that are known to interact badly with grapefruit. We stress that this is NOT a comprehensive list. If a product is not on this list, that does NOT imply that it does not interact in a negative way with grapefruit.
All drugs and food supplements that are similar to the following products are suspect. If you consume any type of medication, do sufficient investigation to determine if it has know conflicts with other medications or foods. Pharmacists can sometimes help, but I have asked several about the widely publicized conflict between grapefruit and over-the-counter antihistamines and cough suppressants. Most of them seem to be clueless about conflicts.
It is very likely that your personal physician may also NOT be aware of some of the following interactions that are published in the literature they are supposed to be reading. They also may not take the time to discuss your diet and food preferences with you. Overly-busy HMO doctors may not become aware of the following problems until AFTER one of their prescriptions severely damages one of their own patients. This common occurrence is understandable, but in my opinion it should be considered criminal negligence.
Grapefruit is only one example of a food that has many well-known medication conflicts. Other individualized food / medication, medication / medication, food / food and allergy conflicts need to be understood, some of which may also be related to predictable inherited genetics.
The scientific basis for complex cause-and-effect relationships may be very difficult for overloaded mediocre minds to understand, avoid or correct after the fact. YOU must be vigilant in order to identify, prevent or deal with complex combination diseases. YOU must take responsibility for the frequent oversights of busy medical doctors that can damage your health or even kill you without realizing their error, or the misinformation given to them by their own teachers, biased pharmaceutical companies or inept / corrupt government agencies.
Anxiety - Xanax, Buspar, Versed, Halcion
Depression - Luvox, Zoloft
Allergies - Allegra
Antihistamines - Terfenadine and many other prescription and over-the-counter medications
Antiviral - Saquinavir
Abnormal Heart Rhythm - Cordarone, quinidine
Heart Disease, Stroke and Blood Clots - Coumadin and other blood thinners
Immunosuppressent - Cyclosporine
Epilepsy - Tegretol
Cancer - Cyclophosphamide, etoposide, ifosfamide, tamoxifen, vinblastine, vincristine
Cough - Dextromethorphan (found in many over-the-counter cold medicines)
HIV - Agenerase, Crixivan, Viracept, Norvir, Fortovase
Prostate Enlargement - Proscar
Heart Disease, High Blood Pressure and calcium channel blockers - Adalat, Calan, Cardene, Cardizem, Coreg, Covera, Felodipine, Nifedipine, Nimotop, Plendil, Procardia, Sular, Verapamil, Verelan
Erectile Dysfunction - Viagra, Cialis
Asthma and Emphysema - Theophylline
High Cholesterol (Statins) - Lipitor, Lescol, Mevacor, Zocor
Pain - Codeine, Alfenta, Duragesic, Actiq, Sufenta
Infection - Biaxin, Sporanox, erythromycin, troleandomycin
Hormones - Estradiol
Stimulants – Caffeine, ephedrine, ephedra and other similar natural and laboratory-made stimulants
If your medical doctor prescribed one of the above and failed to warn you about these critical issues, search for a better-informed, more caring doctor who is NOT clueless about well-documented deadly drug and food interactions! Doctors make countless iatrogenic mistakes that damage the health of millions of Americans every year and kill hundreds of thousands of their naïve trusting patients.
For decades, medical doctors failed to understand or recommend vitamins and antioxidants. They arrogantly taught their students and patients that all vitamin salesmen were “quacks.” The latest 2005 federal government nutrition guidelines finally acknowledge what medical doctors have denied for way too long. Americans need to consume far more antioxidants, found in certain (but not all) fruits and vegetables.
The issues are extremely complex, unique to particular individuals and controversial (with economically-biased mutually-exclusive conflicting advertisements, views, experiences and opinions).
Many mediocre minds conclude that since the issues are complex, research findings should be ignored, while they smoke, eat and drink whatever they want, based on very-bad lessons that they learned as children and as uninformed adults who lack mature critical thinking skills (how very sad).
In contrast, Joyful Aging recommends that your search for the truth should be open minded and skeptical, with never ending critical thinking skills. Never say: “I know that I shouldn’t, but…”
Remember: “Veritas Omnia Vincit” – Truth Conquers All
“Lifelong learning in an ever-expending universe of endless possibilities.”
Serious students of Antioxidants see: Free Radical Biology and Medicine scientific tutorials