A dangerous friend

When I was in high school, I had a few friends I would call dangerous.  They liked me for some reason, but they were not the kind of people you’d hang around, as they were constantly in fights or trouble with the law.  As far as I know, none of them amounted to much and a couple did not survive long.  But they were protection and liability all wrapped up in one and you had to know how to “use” them the right way, or you would wind up on the wrong side of something bad.

Much like my double-edged dangerous friends, your body has a blessing and a curse all wrapped up into one.  I am talking about oxygen, as you may have guessed.  We need oxygen to survive more than a few minutes.  It is a major player in the generation of our energy as well.

But it has a dark side called a “free radical”, as you may already know.  Free radicals are oxygen molecules that have either combined with other molecules, or picked up some extra energy in the form of an electron that is spinning wildly (in a biological sense).

Think of free radicals as biologic cruise missiles looking for a place to land!  If they land on cell membranes, they can disrupt or destroy them, leading to cell death and the release of toxic material to surrounding cells.

If they bang into DNA (genes), they can cause havoc there and may cause cancer.

Accumulated, untreated, free radical damage is thought to be a major cause of aging and, like rust, it never sleeps!

Yet you do need a bit of it in controlled circumstances to fight off bacteria, viruses and remove dead and dying tissues, a process called “autophagy” (you eat yourself!), all of which is essential for normal health!

But, given our current diets, which are heavy in inflammatory Omega 6 fatty acids, environmental toxins, a declining ozone layer and a lot of synthetic stuff in our food, most of us are in a state of “free radical overload”.

It makes good common sense to use potent antioxidants to fight off free radical damage.

I liken the state of this science to fish oil 6 or 7 years ago.  Traditional medicine is slow to adjust and accept, but the momentum is growing.

Fish oil, by the way, is in my opinion, an antioxidant because it accepts free radicals and buffers them.  This has led some people to make the ridiculous statement ‘fish oil rots in your body, so take antioxidants to protect yourself.’  The rotting of fish oil refers to the fact that it is oxidized easily, which makes it a great free radical sink!  All you need to do is what Mother Nature intended for you to do: replace it regularly, since it is an essential fatty acid and can’t be made in the diet!

In other words, take it regularly.

If used wisely, your dangerous friend can give you power, help you fight off infections and protect you from aging.  If misused, or left to its own devices, it can cause you to age faster and lead to your ultimate demise.

Oversimplification? Not really; it can be just that simple!  Don’t neglect this aspect of your health!

Doc

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