Inflammation and stress are two health issues that plague today's society. Chronic inflammation is related to a very large number of diseases, as is chronic stress. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules in your body that can cause mutations and cancer. There are a number of reasons that your body produces free radicals, which we'll talk about here.
Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory supplements help destroy free radicals and help to promote good health. In this post, we'll look into how inflammation and free radicals affect your health. We explore natural antioxidants as well as the top three antioxidant and anti-inflammatory supplements.
Health Issues: Inflammation and Free Radicals
Inflammation is an important and prevalent health issue today. Inflammation is your body’s response to stress, infections, or toxins. Inflammation is caused by your immune response. In certain situations, inflammation is extremely helpful and necessary – it’s the side effect of your body destroying bacteria or viruses, or healing a wound.
However, in today’s world, many people suffer from what is called ‘chronic inflammation’. This type of inflammation is often not caused by an infection or a wound, but by prolonged emotional stress. Stress causes the release of a compound called ‘C-reactive protein’ into your body, triggering the ‘flight-or-fight’ response.
Emotional stress is not the only cause of chronic inflammation, but it may be the most common. Other causes include using drugs, smoking, drinking alcohol, and consuming a diet that is high in saturated fat, animal proteins, and sugar.
Chronic inflammation can also be caused by a number of underlying health issues. Inflammation of the joints is extremely painful and can be the result of a disease called rheumatoid arthritis.
The negative effects of chronic inflammation are very serious:
- Firstly, chronic inflammation has been linked to a number of types of cancer including lung, cervix and stomach cancers.
- Secondly, chronic inflammation interferes with your sleep. People who suffer from chronic inflammation are often unable to sleep properly, but researchers are still unsure about whether this is a cause-and-effect relationship.
- Thirdly, chronic inflammation can affect your respiratory system. It’s linked to asthma, lung infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- Fourthly, chronic inflammation is often found in people who are overweight. However, having inflammation and high levels of C-reactive protein make losing weight more difficult.
- Fifthly, chronic inflammation may interfere with bone growth and bone density, and may even be linked to a disease called osteoporosis.
- Sixthly, your skin is affected by inflammation. Chronic inflammation is linked to a disease called psoriasis, as well as increased cell aging.
- Lastly, chronic inflammation is linked to, and may actually cause, depression.
2. Free radicals
Free radicals are molecules that are electronically charged and are highly reactive with other compounds in your body. They are produced naturally as by-products of many of your body’s biochemical pathways. Your body has natural processes to remove free-radicals generated by normal functions. These include the immune system and metabolic processes.
However, smoking, using certain medications, drinking alcohol, under exercising, consuming a diet that is high in saturated fat and sugars, and other factors, can cause your body to generate excess free radicals. These reactive molecules can damage key parts of your body, including your cell membranes, DNA, and proteins. Examples of free radicals include superoxide, hydrogen peroxide, and hydroxyl radicals.
The damage that is caused by free-radicals is caused ‘oxidative stress’. This is because the free radicals ‘steal’ electrons from molecules, in a process called oxidation. Oxidative stress is a key factor in the development of a number of diseases. As with chronic inflammation, oxidative stress has some very serious consequences:
- Oxidative stress may contribute to the development of heart disease. ‘Bad’ cholesterol, called LDL, is easily absorbed into the blood stream where it is oxidized into its free radical form. Oxidized LDL contributes to atherosclerosis (plaque in the blood vessels) and is toxic. The only dietary source of LDL is animal fat.
- Free radicals, sometimes also known as reactive oxygen species (ROS) are capable of damaging the DNA in your cells. Mutations and damaged DNA cause cancerous cells to grow.
- Scientists have found that the cellular damage caused by free radicals is one of the leading causes of aging. Increasing numbers of studies indicate that the disorders associated with aging, as well as the aging process itself, are linked to damage caused by oxidative stress.
Antioxidants and Anti-inflammatories
Antioxidants help to destroy the nasty free radicals in a process called ‘free radical scavenging’. This helps to protect your body from the harmful effects of oxidative stress. Anti-inflammatory compounds interact with key components of your body’s biochemistry to reduce the inflammation response. This helps reduce the damage caused by chronic inflammation.
As we saw above, the only source of LDL cholesterol is animal fat. In fact, diets that are high in animal protein have been shown in a vast number of studies to have negative effects on your health.
An article published by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, entitled “The Protein Myth”, explains just this. Consuming animal proteins can lead to a number of serious health effects including kidney stones, cancer, osteoporosis and kidney disease. To reduce your risk of these diseases, simply replace animal protein with grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
Luckily, nature has provided us with many natural food sources of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. These wonderful substances help to reduce the negative effects of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.
Great antioxidant food sources include:
Great anti-inflammatory food sources include:
- Olive oil
- Green leafy vegetables
Top 3 Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Supplements
Benefits and Effects
Quercetin is a natural compound known as a flavonoid and is one of nature’s most effective anti-inflammatory compounds! It is found in small quantities in many fruits and vegetables, and in the highest quantities in apples and citrus fruits. This wonderful polyphenol compound has a number of great benefits. It is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and may help to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Quercetin has a number of great benefits, making it one of the top 3 health promoting supplements. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits may help to maintain a healthy body and a healthy heart. Quercetin may also have the potential for anti-cancer effects, and is neuroactive. This means that, like caffeine, quercetin helps to stimulate your mind and provide mental energy.
How does Quercetin work?
Scientists are still evaluating the methods of action of quercetin. One mechanism that has been found is that it regulates a number of important factors contributing to inflammation. These are called nitric oxide synthase, cyclooxygenase-2, reactive C-protein, and the NF-kappa B pathway. Quercetin helps to reduce inflammation by regulating these important genes.
Reducing inflammation is one of quercetin’s most important properties. However, it is also a great antioxidant. This means that it helps to destroy dangerous ‘free-radicals’. In fact, it may be one of the best antioxidant health supplements available.
In a number of studies, researchers are examining quercetin’s proposed ability to help reduce the growth of cancer cells. Some preliminary studies have found that quercetin reduces growth in human lung cancer cells and human leukemia cells. Of course, these are only preliminary studies, and more studies on human populations are needed before any conclusions can be drawn.
Is Quercetin safe to use?
Yes! Quercetin is a remarkably safe supplement to use. It has great health benefits with virtually no side effects at the recommended dosage. High doses may cause headaches and slight tingling sensations. Doses over one gram may have negative effects on your kidneys. Keep to the recommended dosage.
WebMD, a good source of information about supplements and their side effects, lists quercetin as possibly safe when taken at a dosage of 500 mg daily, for up to 12 weeks. However, not enough studies have been conducted on pregnant women to be certain that it’s safe for use during pregnancy.
Also, quercetin interacts with a very large number of medications. These include antibiotics, blood thinners, chemotherapy, and medication that is metabolized by the liver. If you are taking any prescription medication please talk to your doctor before starting with quercetin.
2. Green Tea Extract
Benefits and Effects
The extract made from the green tea bush, Camellia sinesis, is arguably the best natural antioxidant health supplement available today. Green tea has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over a thousand years. It is one of the most potent natural antioxidants known to man.
The potent antioxidant effects of green tea extract give it a multitude of health benefits. Researchers are still studying the myriad benefits of green tea extract. One of the most important benefits is green tea extract’s ability to destroy ‘bad’ cholesterol. This may help to reduce the risk of developing plaque in your arteries.
Green tea extract has also been shown to have a powerful effect on reducing body fat, especially around the abdominal region. It has been studied for the potential to reduce risks of type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Read more about green tea extract on our product description.
How does it work?
Green tea extract contains a number of extremely potent antioxidant compounds. These are called catechins and polyphenols. The most powerful catechin is called EGCG, and this has been proven to have potent free radical scavenging effects.
In terms of green tea extract for weight loss and fat burning, scientists are still working to understand the exact way that this great supplement works. It seems to have a myriad of ways that it helps your body.
Studies have shown that green tea extract helps to increase the rate at which your body burns fat. Other studies have found that green tea extract helps to reduce the levels of LDL-C (bad cholesterol).
Is Green Tea Extract safe to use?
Yes, green tea extract is an especially safe dietary supplement when taken at the recommended dosage. Green tea itself has been used around the world for thousands of years to help with many ailments. High doses of green tea extract may cause headaches and irritability.
Green tea extract is a great health supplement, and it is also very powerful. We suggest sticking to the recommended dosage. This is more than enough green tea extract to provide all the health benefits, and taking a higher dose won’t increase the benefits.
In fact, some studies have found that consuming very high doses of green tea extract may have negative effects on your liver. Green tea extract may also interact with a number of medications. We recommend speaking to your doctor before taking green tea extract if you are on any prescription medication.
Benefits and Effects
Taurine is a natural supplement found in many energy drinks. It is often combined with caffeine for a synergistic effect. Taurine is a potent antioxidant. It helps to destroy dangerous free radicals. It is also great for improving your mood and may even be able to enhance cognition (like a Nootropic). Taurine may also improve your blood circulation and metabolism.
Like the green tea extract, Taurine has powerful antioxidant benefits, which means that it helps to protect your body from the harmful effects of free radicals. You may also find that taurine helps to improve your energy levels and your metabolism.
How does it work?
Researchers have found the way that taurine works as an antioxidant. It helps to prevent mitochondria (the ‘power-units’ in your cells) from producing free radicals. This is really important because, unlike green tea extract and other antioxidants, taurine is not a classical ‘free-radical scavenger’. Instead, it helps to prevent your body from producing free radicals in the first place.
Taurine is great when taken along with other antioxidant supplements, including green tea extract and quercetin. These supplements destroy free radicals, while taurine prevents them from being formed. Using a health promoting supplements stack is a great way to get the most out of your supplements.
Taurine also has the potential to help with weight loss by altering your metabolism. By increasing the speed that your body eats up carbohydrates, and the way that it uses sugar, taurine helps to improve weight loss. Taurine may increase your energy and mental clarity.
IsTaurine safe to use?
Like the other health supplements, taurine is very safe. Side effects of high doses are quite similar to the side effects of caffeine. These include headaches, restlessness, dry mouth, and irritability. WebMD lists taurine as possibly safe for adults and children when taken at the correct dosage. In fact, according to WebMD, there have been no reports whatsoever of negative effects from taurine in any of the studies on it so far.
As with all antioxidant and anti-inflammatory supplements, it’s important to stick to the recommended taurine dosage. Studies into the safety of taurine have not evaluated overly high dosages. Pregnant women are advised not to use taurine supplements because of the lack of studies into these effects so far.
In conclusion, we’ve looked into the negative health issues of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. These are often the underlying causes of many ailments in today’s society. We’ve examined the risk factors for chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, which include dietary, lifestyle, and genetic factors.
We also took a look at anti-inflammatories and antioxidants and found that you can get a number of these great compounds from everyday food sources, including raisins, prunes, and tomatoes. Finally, we examined the top three antioxidant and anti-inflammatory supplements available today. These natural health supplements are the best dietary supplements for potentially reducing inflammation and destroying harmful free radicals.
None of the supplements above are intended to treat or cure any disease or ailment. These are dietary supplements with remarkable health benefits but are not intended to replace medication for any illness or ailment.
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