Free radicals are produced in your body as part of your immune system’s defensive activity, plus other activities such as response to ingestion of pollution, pesticides, residues, etc. These free radicals steal electrons from other substances which can result in the creation of more free radicals, all of which are unstable and highly reactive. They become toxic compounds inside you. Rancid (oxidized) oils are considered very toxic for your health for this reason. A proliferation of free radicals in your body creates oxidative stress, causing inflammation, contributing to a number of diseases, premature ageing and deterioration of your body. To see these free radicals (also known as ‘reactive oxygen species’) in action, just cut an apple and watch the cut area turn brown as it oxidizes.
To combat this, we are encouraged to eat foods that contain antioxidants. They help neutralize these compounds by supplying the missing electrons and so reduce the ability of the free radicals to proliferate within your body. Eating plenty of fresh bright colored vegetables provides these.
Glutathione is a master antioxidant and is produced within your liver. It is therefore very important that you eat the right foods and get the required nutrients for production of this critical molecule. Healthy levels of folate, vitamin B6 and B12 and Sulphur rich foods such as onion, garlic and cruciferous vegetables plus selenium (Brazil nuts) and regular exercise can assist.
Vitamin C is used to make Glutathione in your liver and is also an important antioxidant for your health. We have all heard the old stories of sailors and explorers who suffered horribly and died of scurvy. Eventually this was solved by including a small amount of Vitamin C rich food in the diet. Captain Cook administered lime juice to his crew to provide this supplement and was successful in keeping his crew healthy. This is a great reminder of how important even the smallest elements of good nutrition are.
Many people don’t realize that Vitamin C is present in fresh fatty meat, particularly in organ meat, such as the liver, kidney etc. Unfortunately, Vitamin C degrades by heating and over time, quickly loses its potency. So, eat your food fresh. Before the discovery of Vitamin C, early Arctic explorers living on dry biscuit and canned food, often died of scurvy, but the native Intuit happily existed in the same Arctic areas, living only on fish and fresh meat. If the Arctic explorers had only known to catch some fish or seals and eat some fresh fatty meat, they would have defeated the scourge of scurvy.
The need for Vitamin C is greater in people on a high carbohydrate diet, compared with the low carbohydrate diet and there may be a simple explanation for this. It has been discovered, but is not well understood, that Vitamin C and glucose compete for the same receptors in many cells in your body. When the glucose level gets very high, as can happen when we have a high dietary level of sugar and carbohydrates, then Vitamin C gets shut out. This is known as the Glucose Ascorbate antagonism (GAA) theory, first proposed by John Ely in the 1970s, and has been proven by repeated testing.
Shutting out Vitamin C prevents it being taken up within cells where it acts as an antioxidant to reduce the level of free radicals. As already explained, high levels of these can contribute to inflammation in the body and significantly increase the risk of cancer. This could be an important mechanism contributing to the, recently discovered, link between obesity and cancer risk.
People suffering from obesity, generally have higher levels of glycated red blood cells and this is reflected in their HbA1c measurement which is an indicator of the historical glucose level in their blood. Testing has revealed an inverse relationship between this HbA1c level and a person’s level of Vitamin C.
It could follow, that reducing body fat, such as by adopting a ketogenic, or low carb/high fat diet may increase the effectiveness of your Vitamin C and other antioxidants by lowering your glucose levels. This would reduce your cancer risk, as well as helping you lose fat. In my experience, this way of eating is relatively easy and seems to have little downside. I have been following a ketogenic diet for 2 years now and have found it very sustainable, even enjoyable. For more details, you will need to read my book.
George Elder, Author, "Take Back Your Health"