What is Oxidative Stress?
Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the inability of the body to neutralize their harmful effects with antioxidants.
What are free radicals?
Free radicals are reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced normally when we breathe, eat, sleep, exercise and digest food. Occasionally the body’s immune system also produces free radicals to stop the proliferation of viruses and bacteria.
As a rule, the body’s internal antioxidant defense can successfully neutralize the harmful effect of free radicals.
The problem occurs when the body is constantly exposed to alcohol, drugs, cigarette smoke, poor diet, stress and pollution, which can eventually cripple the body’s internal antioxidant defense.
How can we reduce free radicals and promote good health?
We can influence good health by boosting the body’s two “master antioxidants” – Glutathione (GSH) and Superoxide Dismutase (SOD).
What is Glutathione (GSH)?
Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that the body produces and recycles naturally. Researchers believe that the level of Glutathione in our cells is a predictor of how long we will live!
The secret of Glutathione’s power lies in the sulfur (SH) chemical group. Sulfur scavenges and removes all harmful molecules in the body including free radicals and heavy metal poisoning.
Normally, the body produces and recycles Glutathione continuously except when the toxic load becomes too high.
Supplementing with Glutathione pills has proven to be ineffective. However, “you can consume certain foods that turn on your body’s genes to make more glutathione, and that’s pretty powerful stuff”, says Dr. Perlmutter.
Foods that boost Glutathione production:
- Unpasteurized whey protein, an excellent source of cysteine
- Raw milk and eggs, a great source of amino acid building blocks that help enhance glutathione production
- Sulfur rich garlic and onions, cooked or raw
- Cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts
- Sprouts, grains and lentils
- Asparagus, avocado, spinach, okra
- Blueberries, blackberries, melons, mangos, papaya and bananas
- Spices including turmeric, cinnamon, cumin and cardamom known to improve glutathione concentrations
- Green and black tea
What is Superoxide Dismutase?
Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is the body’s second internal antioxidant defense. It is a powerful enzyme naturally found in every cell of the body and is considered one of the most potent antioxidants. It plays an important role in disarming the reactive oxygen species (ROS) and in reducing the oxidative stress implicated in many degenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s.
Until recently, SOD supplements proved disappointing, since SOD protein molecules are destroyed by harsh acids and enzymes in the digestive tract. Fortunately, it is now possible to boost levels of this important antioxidant by consuming concentrated amounts of precursor molecules in foods. Sprouted wheat, barley, mung and alfalfa represent a rich source of SOD-boosting building blocks that can successfully deliver SOD into the blood stream without being deactivated by stomach enzymes. Sprouts also support the cells to produce and maintain a steady stream of SOD.
Foods that help boost Superoxide dismutase (SOD) include:
- Sprouts especially Barley grass, wheatgrass, mung sprouts and alfalfa sprouts
- Watermelon, honeydew melon and cantaloupe
- Cruciferous veggies including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts
- Citrus fruits, strawberries, blueberries, goji berries and guava