Written By: Nelson Narciso, DNM®
After a long winter hibernation, summer brings with it a renewed sense of vitality and the desire to be outdoors and active. With this increase in activity comes an increase on the physical demands we place on our bodies and, in turn, an increase in free radical production.
Free radicals are reactive compounds that we produce both naturally and are exposed too in our environment through chemicals in our food, water and air. When these free radicals come in contact with our cells they can damage or kill them[i]. In fact free radicals have been associated with more than one hundred diseases[ii]. Exercise has been shown to significantly increase free radical levels[iii] and induce varying degrees of DNA damage[iv]’[v]. Add to this the increased stress of exercising when the air quality is less than desirable from smog and other airborne contaminants. Fortunately numerous vitamins (E, C, folic acid, B12), minerals (zinc, selenium) and numerous phytonutrients all found in fruits and vegetables[vi]’[vii]’[viii] ’[ix] have been shown to protect our cells and DNA from this damage.
Although free radical production is a natural process we all experience the concern lies in how many we produce and are exposed to as well as how effectively our bodies can neutralize them. Exercise not only increases our free radical production directly by the natural process of respiration (breathing) but with increased respiration comes an increase in inhaled airborne contaminants many of which are free radicals themselves[x]. Unless kept in check excessive free radical production and exposure can impact athletic performance[xi], speed up the ageing process[xii],[xiii], [xiv]increase the risk of a heart attack[xv], disrupt immune function[xvi] and cause genetic mutations to cells that can then become cancerous[xvii]. In fact free radicals have been implicated in many of today’s common afflictions. Even conditions that you might not associate with free radical production like crohn’s[xviii], ulcerative colitis[xix] and chronic fatigue syndrome[xx] have been linked. The job of neutralizing free radicals goes to antioxidants. Antioxidants protect cells from the destructive nature of free radicals and for this very reason it is critical that we consume antioxidant rich foods and supplements. Tufts University developed a test for measuring the antioxidant capacity of foods and supplements called ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). The higher the ORAC score of that food or supplement the more free radicals can be neutralized. Scientists recommend we get between 3000 - 5000 ORAC units daily from our foods and supplements[xxi].
Controlling free radicals is one important strategy in maintaining healthy cellular function another is maintaining optimal cellular pH (pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of the body). Acid-base metabolism is something our bodies try to very tightly control. Metabolic acidosis is more often than not due to dietary imbalances, overconsumption of processed junk foods and the under consumption of alkalizing foods like fruits and vegetables. Being overly acidic can also be influenced by intense exercise to the point of overtraining.[xxii],[xxiii] By testing our urinary and salivary pH using litmus (pH) paper we can determine our metabolic pH. Being overly acidic has been linked to a host of conditions from immune dysfunction to cancer and osteoporosis. A lesser known consequence of acidosis is its impact on performance; decreased IGF1 activity[xxiv], mild hypothyroidism[xxv], elevated cortisol levels[xxvi],[xxvii] (4,5)and lowered hGH production. Collectively these contribute to someone being more catabolic and less anabolic. If you’re exercising to increase muscle mass/tone, improve strength/stamina and lose body fat the last thing you want is to be more catabolic and less anabolic.
So how are we to control free radicals while at the same time regulate acid base levels? The answer lies in having more fruits and vegetables. Sadly most of us only consume a fraction of the fruits and vegetables we all know we should. In fact on average we are only consuming 1/3 of the recommended daily intake suggested by nutritionists. With our hectic pace of life we frequently neglect the important life sustaining nutrients found in fruits and vegetables and opt for convenient fast foods that are over processed and nutrient poor. By neglecting to consume sufficient amounts of colourful fruits and veggies we are predisposing ourselves to a greater risk of cancer, heart disease, rapid ageing, memory impairment, acid alkaline imbalance, and many other conditions to numerous to list. The likelihood of these conditions and diseases manifesting themselves can be reduced dramatically by simply consuming adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables.
VegeGreens and PhytoBerry are two remarkable superfood powders that alongside a more balanced diet can help remedy this problem. VegeGreens was designed to help compensate for the less than optimal vegetable intake by the vast majority of the population. With an impressive ORAC score of just over 2000 it is loaded with protective vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. The carefully chosen ingredients in VegeGreens also contribute to its remarkable alkalizing benefits. VegeGreens has just over sixty supportive super foods consisting of:
- Land Vegetables (beet, carrot, alfalfa, barley greens, spinach, parsley, olive leaf);
- Sea Vegetables (Dulse, Kelp)
- Cruciferous Vegetables (Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Kale & Watercress
- Super Green Foods (chlorella, spirulina, wheat grass)
- EFA’s & Other Healthy Fats (flax seed, Borage, Pumpkin Seed, Evening Primrose Oil, Safflower Oil)
- Pre & Probiotics (Inulin, FOS and L. plantarum)
- Fiber (Apple Pectin, Oat Bran Powder)
- Herbal Co-factors (Astragalus, Cranberry, Milk thistle, Siberian ginseng, Ginkgo biloba, Hawthorn, Dandelion, Nettle leaf)
- Phytonutrient Extracts (Acerola, Blueberry Fruit Powder, Green Tea Extract, grape seed Extract, Bilberry Extract, Resveratrol, lycopene, Lutein)
- Absorption Enhancing Compounds (Enzymes & BioperineÒ)
PhytoBerry is the sister product to VegeGreens and its perfect supplement companion. Designed to provide us with those critically needed antioxidants to counter the many free radicals we’re bound to produce more of and be more exposed to this summer. PhytoBerry has an incredible ORAC score of 5000 units. Combined with VegeGreens one scoop of each taken once a day you would get a whopping 7000 ORAC units of protection. PhytoBerry “bathes” the body in desperately needed antioxidants. This remarkable level of protection comes from an impressive blend of ingredients consisting of:
- Fruit Concentrates (Goji Berry, Organic Açai Berry, Pomegranate, Indian Goose Berry, Mangosteen, Prune, Blueberry, Raisin, Cranberry, Strawberry, Acerola Berry, Apricot, Raspberry, Cupuacu, Blackberry, Sea Berry (Buckthorn), Elderberry)
- Phytonutrients (Rosehip Extract,Green Tea Extract, Apple Extract, White Tea Extract, Rosemary Extract, Grape Skin Extract, Olive Leaf Extract, Bilberry Extract, Grape Seed Extract, Pine Bark Extract, Corn Silk (Zea Mays), Quercetin, Lycopene, Resveratrol
- Essential Fatty Acids & Oils (Freeze Dried) (Organic Non-GMO, Phosphatidylcholine, Phosphatidylinositol, Phosphatidylserine, Organic Flax Seed Oil, Organic Coconut Oil, Plantain Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, Essential Orange Oil, Essential Rosemary Oil, Essential Clove Oil, Essential Thyme Oil, Essential Oregano Oil, Essential Cinnamon Bark Oil, BioperineÒ)
Get outdoors this summer and be active and rest assured in knowing that with the right balance of diet and key supplements not only will you be healthier but you will perform better!
[i] Free Radical Biology and Medicine (1999), Volume: 10, Issue: 6, 449-450
[ii] International Review Of Cytology (2004), Volume: 237, Pages: 57-89
[iii] Sports Medicine. 10(4):236-254, 1990
[iv] Mutat Res. 1995 Apr;346(4):195-202
[v] Free Radical Biology and Medicine 2004;36(8):966-75.
[vi] Natl Cancer Inst. 2003 Jan 15;95(2):98-100.
[vii] Mutation Research. 346:195-202, 1995
[viii] British Journal of Nutrition (2007), 97, 639–643
[x] National Research Council. "Ozone." Emergency and Continuous Exposure Limits for Selected Airborne Contaminants Volume 1. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2000. 1. Print.
[xi] Athens 2004: the pollution climate and athletic performance. Florida-James, G., Donaldson, K. & Stone, V. (2004). Journal of Sports Sciences, 22, 967-980.
[xii] Gustavo Barja, Free radicals and aging, Trends in Neurosciences, Volume 27, Issue 10, October 2004, Pages 595-600.
[xiv] Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Dec 7;101(49):17312-5. Epub 2004 Dec 1.
[xv] Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. Volume 84, Number 2 (1988), 155-161
[xvi] J Appl Physiol 103:693-699, 2007. First published 15 February 2007;
[xvii] Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. Volume 84, Number 2 (1988), 155-161
[xviii] Free radicals and other reactive oxygen metabolites in inflammatory bowel disease: cause, consequence or epiphenomenon? Pharmacology & Therapeutics, Volume 53, Issue 3, 1992, Pages 375-408 [xix] Ibid.
[xx] Redox Rep. 2000;5(2-3):146-7.
[xxii] Immunology and Cell Biology (2000) 78, 502–509.
[xxiii] Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2005) 4, 361-366
[xxiv] Wiederkehr et al, Swiss Med Wkly. 10:127-132, 2001.
[xxvii] Maurer et al, Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 284(1): F32-40, 2003.