Oxidative Stress Leading to Inflammation
Oxidative stress leading to Inflammation, next stop, disease.
Going bigger, is not necessarily better.
Many of us have the very best intentions with our health. We try to eat right, exercise, take supplements, make choices we deem to be healthy. However, we frequently think more is better: more restrictive with our food choices, more intense workouts, more supplements. Let’s all examine our choices from the perspective of inflammation. First a background to
Genetics vs. Epigenetics
Genetics: The genes within our DNA we get from Mamma and Papa. These do not change.
Enter a BIG However:
Epigenetics: Tags on our DNA – which dramatically influences the way our DNA function, for better or for worse. This is where lifestyle exposures affect our gene expression, our health. This explains why identical twins, born with the same genetic material, can age very differently, based on their environment and lifestyle.
Our epigenome comprises all of the tags (epigenetic changes) that have been added to our genome regulating the expression of the genes within our genome.
Epigenetic modifications remain as cells divide and can be inherited through the generations
Point to ponder…The role of epigenetics in our evolution as a species?
Epigenetics influences which genes are switched-on, or expressed, passing on the way the genes are used.
Lifestyle can modify epigenetics; diet, obesity, physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, environmental pollutants, EMF, psychological stress, shift work, chemicals in diet……
Let’s look at the BRCA genes. These genes, associated with breast and other cancers, are genes that produce a tumor suppressing protein. This protein protects the cell by repairing any damages to the DNA. When there is a mutation in the BRCA genes, this protein does not function properly. The cell is now more susceptible to alterations that may lead to cancer. Epigenetics is a strong determinant over the development of cancer. The good news here: Epigenetic modifications are a central focus in researching prevention, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. “Epi-drugs” are now be researched.
Oxidative stress has been my field of research for 30 years. Shortly after I got into fitness, I was intrigued on why exercise and nutrition influence our health so greatly. I knew it wasn’t just in the size jeans we wear, but in our genes. I have been blessed to work with a number of researchers over the years in the field of oxidative stress and the development of disease. Many years ago I evolved my fitness business into medical fitness and encompassed lifestyle habits to lower oxidative stress leading to inflammation.
Oxidative stress is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body. Simply summarized, oxidative stress is electron thievery. Electrons are stable when coupled. Single electrons, called free radicals, scavenge the body to seek out other electrons so they can couple. Really is a wicked dating scene inside our cells! The electron thievery causes damage to cells, proteins and DNA. Oxidative stress happens when our redox state, is tipped with free radicals outnumbering available antioxidants.
Learn more on Pubmed about oxidative stress leading to inflammation and disease.
Sources of Oxidative Stress (OS):
OS has both endogenous (from within) and exogenous (from our world) sources.
Endogenous: Cellular metabolism. Now start thinking carefully here for the rest of the article. Energy production happens in the mitochondria of our cells. Our currency or energy is ATP. OS is a natural by-product of ATP. ……When do we produce more ATP?
The body’s natural immune response can also trigger oxidative stress temporarily.
Exogenous: No coincidence, the same list we have above for lifestyle influences on epigenetics.
Long-term oxidative stress damages the body’s cells, proteins, and DNA. OS strongly contributes to aging and is accepted to be at the root of many of our chronic conditions including diabetes, cancers, heart and vascular disease, depression, neurodegenerative disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, insulin resistance, IBD……More and more of our chronic issues are being linked to oxidative stress as it can lead to chronic inflammation.
Inflammation – Chronic Inflammation
Inflammation is the body’s means of fighting against invaders, such as infections, injuries, and toxins, to self repair. Chronic inflammation puts the body in a constant state of alert.
Inflammation triggered by oxidative stress is the cause of many chronic diseases, as summarized above.
CRP is an inflammatory marker. It is valued as the most clinically useful and the best marker of inflammation and is respected as a valuable tool in the prediction of cardiovascular risk.
Chronic Diseases continues to be on the Rise
Our bodies inner antioxidant system was not designed “back in the day” to manage our current barrage of OS fire from our environment and lifestyle choices. We evolved with an inner antioxidant system to manage our endogenous OS, which weakens with age and exhaustion!
According to the WHO, chronic disease is on the rise worldwide. An aging population, obesity-induced oxidative stress and changes in our environment and our lifestyle choices are contributing to this steady increase.
Digging Deeper…..We talk about obesity being an issue in disease. At the cellular level, adipocytes produce ROS. But we have a chicken or the egg issue. There are many researchers suggesting that oxidative stress causes obesity……the plot thickens……
Suffice it to say, controlling oxidative stress is paramount to a “healthy lifestyle.” What we need to do, is discover the many hidden cause of oxidative stress and extinguish the fires of chronic inflammation, best we can.
NRF2 Activation to lower oxidative stress
Oxidative stress leading to inflammation, perhaps the most unknown cause of chronic illness outside the research world. Yes, many people know to eat their rainbow of fruits and vegetables. Fabulous! How many people know about the NRF2 pathway inside the body? The NRF2 pathway produces our own homegrown antioxidants, which lower oxidative stress at a 1,000,000:1 ratio relative to eating antioxidants. Taking antioxidant supplements can have dangerous side effects. We are far safer to activate our NRF2 pathway.
Contact me to take our oxidative stress assessment, and learn how to activate your NRF2 pathway.
“Nrf2 may well become the most extraordinary therapeutic and most extraordinary preventative breakthrough in the history of medicine.” Washington State University
Exercise: This section is difficult, but needs to be discussed. I am NOT the Grinch that maligned exercise. I am a major exercise and physical activity enthusiast. The gym is my play ground, I have a gym in my home, and yes, we do not need a gym to get exercise, the world is our gym. Especially in the current times of social distancing, we can get physical activity in a number of fun, invigorating ways.
Bottom line: Too much exercise in terms of intensity and duration is proven to increase oxidative stress. Yes, exercise and physical activity are a necessity for every aspect of health. Exercise has been proven to lower oxidative stress, cardio vascular risk, but the mechanisms of this are still being studied.
- It has been proven that starting “on an exercise program”, then quitting abruptly increases OS. Slow and steady wins the race.
- Diet plus exercise is far more effective in lowering OS, than exercise alone.
- Exercise has better control on lowering oxidative stress in people who have higher levels of CRP (inflammatory marker).
- Exhaustive and prolonged exercise promotes the generation of ROS, depletion of antioxidants and vitamins, induces oxidative stress, renal impairment and inflammation.
- Prolonged aerobic exercise is linked to dramatic increases in oxidative stress
- Less studied thus far, intense hypertrophy training (heavy weight lifting) has been shown to increase oxidative stress….
- Muscle mass is imperative for healthy aging, balanced training is key.
More exercise in terms of duration and intensity could lose the beneficial effects of exercise. It is very important for those engaging in stressful exercise to support their antioxidant supply to combat OS.
There are many examples here.
Our body needs a variety of amino acids to function efficiently. Bioavailability of these amino acids varies amongst food sources.
There are a number of benefits to particularly picked on foods such as dairy and red meat. We need to feed out bodies the nutrients, amino acids it needs. Let’s look at some research on a few popular diets.
- Keto diet: Ketogenic diets have shown to increase inflammatory markers.
- Paleo diet: can be good in some respects by eliminating sugar, alcohol, but if not done carefully Paleo-ers have been shown to be deficient in fiber and certain minerals and vitamins which is hurtful to gut health, and yes pro inflammatory.
- Vegan diets: Again, proceed with intense caution. Vegan diets tend to be very carb heavy. Our grains are not what they used to be. Genetic modification and toxins abound, and our soil is not what it used to be as a source of minerals. Very sorry: The digestibility and bioavailability of protein in plant foods is inferior to meat, fish and dairy products. What no omega 3s in fish????
- A 2018 study showed that long term diets excessively low, or high in carbohydrates are both linked with a shorter lifespan.
- Orthorexia: Very few orthorexic people will admit to this disorder. Orthorexia is the obsessive fixation on healthy food and healthy eating, excessive exercise. People with orthorexia are often on a restrictive diet. There are many chronic conditions associated with orthorexia, yes, including being pro inflammatory.
There is NO utopian diet. Our diet, exercise & lifestyle choices need to be reassessed and evolve as we age. Examine lifestyle decisions from the perspective of inflammation. The scale, a ripped physique, skinny jeans are not the omnipotent indicator of health. We need to examine what we are identifying as our markers of health. Maybe our good intentions are weakening our inner defences. Be healthy and balanced. Balance is strength!
Book a consult, provide employees with our OS assessment!
Shira has been in chronic care management and prevention for 30 years, specializing in lifestyle habits including holistic nutrition, medical fitness and oxidative stress reduction. She is frequently called upon by the media, has her own podcast bringing current research to the public.
She has created and provided oxidative stress assessments, to help clients identify potential health risks. From these, she designs appropriate exercise and physical activity protocols, nutrition ideas for lowering inflammation and to fall in love with fitness.
Articles featured in: Corporate Wellness Association, European Registry of Exercise Professionals, The National Post, Investment Executive Magazine, Directory of Greater Toronto, Canadian Leukemia & Lymphoma Association, Prostate Cancer Canada, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Anytime Fitness, Today’s Black Woman, Today’s Seniors, Medical Fitness Network, FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered), Willow (Breast & Hereditary Cancer Support),Myeloma Canada, Cancer Exercise Training Institute, Urban Poling for Breast Cancer, ROW – Recovery on Water for Breast Cancer, Sirius XM Doctor Radio