DGP: Antioxidants vs. Pro-oxidants [Episode 16]

Blog Cover-DGP-Episode 16-Antioxidants vs Prooxidants

Welcome to this week’s Dirty Genes Podcast. Today’s topic is antioxidants vs. pro-oxidants. I’m Dr. Ben Lynch.

I hope you enjoy the episode! If you do, be sure to give a thumbs-up, rate it, leave a comment, and subscribe here.

Table of Contents

Click the video below to watch the Dirty Genes Podcast or keep scrolling to read the transcript of Episode 16: Antioxidants vs. Pro-oxidants.



Show Notes

Episode 16 Transcript: Antioxidants vs. Pro-oxidants

Antioxidants, you hear about all the time. You might even be taking them all the time. Now, pro-oxidants. What? Why would I even care about that? Well, if you’re taking antioxidants, you do care about pro-oxidants.

The question is, “Are you ever taking pro-oxidants on purpose? Are you undergoing any antioxidant therapies? Are you undergoing any pro-oxidative therapies? The answer is yes. The question is, “When should you use what and why? When should you avoid one or the other? Especially when the other one is actually trying to do something beneficial in your body?” So, everything is in balance.

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Pro-oxidants and Antioxidants, Defined

Before we get going further, it’s important to define things, right? So, pro-oxidant is not a term you hear every day. Antioxidant, you probably know it, but you don’t really know what it is. So, let’s look at some words.

Oxidize means to combine or become combined chemically with oxygen. To oxidize something, you are taking a chemical or a compound, and you’re attaching oxygen to it. That addition of oxygen is structurally changing it into something else. So, when you burn coal, sulfur is released into the atmosphere. It then combines with oxygen and becomes sulfur dioxide.

I’m going to be sharing with you what type of pro-oxidants are in your body. They are actually made by your body to do certain different things for your benefit and also to your detriment.

A pro-oxidant is a substance that accelerates the oxidation of another substance. So, a pro-oxidant is something that will encourage oxygen to bind to something in order to serve a purpose. You will learn what some of those purposes are.

Now, on the flip side, what is an antioxidant? An antioxidant is a substance that inhibits oxidation. It makes sense. A pro-oxidant supports the addition of oxygen to destroy something, or to add oxygen to it to ultimately destroy something. An antioxidant is a substance that inhibits oxidation, especially one used to counteract the deterioration of stored food products. So, antioxidants are often added to supplements. Rosemary is one that you can naturally add to act as an antioxidant inside of a supplement. Vitamin E (tocopherols) is another one that you can see added to skincare products.

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What is Oxidation?

I want to correct myself a bit too. When you oxidize something, it is not always bad. You’re not always destroying something. You might also be sending signals. So, I’ll be giving some examples of that too. I just wanted to correct myself on that one.

So, a pro-oxidant isn’t bad, and an antioxidant isn’t good. There are situations where an antioxidant is actually quite bad. You don’t want to be taking it at the wrong time.

The goal of today’s episode is to give you some awareness of when you should be taking antioxidants, and when you shouldn’t.

When your doctors say, “Hey, you need to take a pro-oxidative therapy,” they might not use that word, but after listening to this, you’re going to know what pro-oxidative therapy is and realize that if you’re doing well from it, good. If you’re doing badly from it, well, maybe you need to step back, talk with your healthcare professional and say, “Hey, I think this pro-oxidative therapy is not doing me justice because I’m actually feeling terrible. And I think I’m low on antioxidants.” So, you need both.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re sitting at home. It’s wintertime, and it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas. You start a fire in a fireplace, and it’s creating some comfort and warmth. You might be roasting some marshmallows or hot dogs on there, two bad examples for healthy food, but hey, indulge. That’s a good type of oxidation, right? It’s a nice warm fire that’s providing a service to you. It’s cooking some “food,” and it’s creating a good atmosphere and providing warmth. So, oxidation, it’s the degree to which it’s beneficial. When it becomes too much, it’s not beneficial.

Now another example. Exercise is a physical stressor. It’s a mental stressor too to get past your discomfort and keep going. But exercise is a natural physical stressor that our bodies will go through to stimulate our mitochondria to reproduce more mitochondria and reproduce more cells in order for us to go longer and become faster and healthier. Now, that’s a good thing. If you lift weights, your muscles will get bigger. If you go for jogs or runs, your mile time might be eight minutes at the start. After you do it for a year, you might get down to seven. After another year and a half, you might get down to a six-and-a-half-minute mile. Okay, so your body is continually adapting.

So, that oxidative damage that you’re putting your body through during exercise is stimulating enzymes. Specifically, these enzymes are called Nrf2 and others to help stimulate mitochondrial formation and also, cell and tissue repair. That’s why your muscles actually get bigger because they’re repairing themselves. That’s also why you can run faster and longer without feeling winded because you have more mitochondria densely packed in your tissues. So, there’s producing and more energy for you. That’s why it’s also easier to lose weight when you’re doing nothing while you’re sleeping. Because if you’re fit, you’re able to lose weight while you’re sleeping because your mitochondria are able to burn fat. So, once you’re fit, things are easy.

So, exercise is fantastic as oxidative stress at a low level. Now, if you take it to the nth degree like I did when I was rowing for the Huskies, or you’re training for an Iron Man, or the Spartan Race, or Tough Mudder (or whatever these races are called), and you’re just overdoing it, that’s too much.

Why Do You Need Oxidative Stress?

So, what is the purpose of oxidation? Why would you want to have oxidative stress? We are taught, and we are marketed to all the time by supplement companies, that antioxidants are great. But they’re not always great, and why aren’t they? Because oxidation serves purposes.

Oxidation stimulates your immune system. That’s important. It stimulates your blood flow. It helps eliminate bugs and pathogens. It helps eliminate old cells to make room for new ones. It stimulates neurotransmitter activity. It stimulates tissue, organ, and bone repair.

So, if you did not have any oxidation, you’d have a bunch of dead cells all over you. Thanks to apoptosis. Probably my face would be four feet thick of dead cells, ew. My digestive system would be super funky because I have all sorts of dead cells that need to go, but the oxidation has chewed them all up and digested them. My neurotransmitters are being made, but they also need to be eliminated, oxidized, and removed. Then my immune system needs to be put on alert to go and fight that illness.

But if I don’t have any oxidation, or I have reduced ability to sense a pathogen, or I have an illness, then I can’t fight it, and that illness will take over. Now, you’re thinking, “Huh, whatever.” No, there’s an actual illness that is genetic, where people are born with a reduced ability to generate oxidative stress or produce pro-oxidants. These people experience very frequent and chronic illnesses. The gene is called NOX. So, the NADPH oxidase or NOX gene is very, very important for you. This particular gene’s job is to make oxidants. It’s a pro-oxidative gene. That’s its job.

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NOX gene

I did my wife’s StrateGene genetic test, and I’ve looked at her NOX gene. She struggles with a very fast response to any type of illness or pathogen. Then it will just go on and on for her. She’ll get sore joints and bone pains and so on. She’ll just get muscle soreness and fatigue. It’s like wow. So, if she gets sick, her immune system attacks it with a vengeance, but it will then also continue to attack her like an autoimmune problem for a long period of time. So, then that is too much oxidative stress, right? Yes.

So, her NOX gene works at a very high, fast rate.

My NOX gene is a little lazy. It doesn’t work as fast. So, if I get sick, I can take a longer time to get rid of whatever illness I have. Interestingly, vitamin A stimulates this particular gene. I will be discussing the ratio of vitamin A and vitamin D at some point here on the Dirty Genes Podcast because it’s very, very important.

What Pro-oxidants Does Your Body Make?

So, what are some actual pro-oxidants made by your own body? Yes, your body makes them. There are six of them that I know offhand. The first is superoxide. Superoxide is made by your NOX gene, which is what I just discussed. So, superoxide is what it produces. And then, that superoxide then gets broken down by another gene called superoxide dismutase. So, NOX makes superoxide to fight illnesses and signal your immune system. And then, the superoxide dismutase gene takes that superoxide, and it breaks it down into hydrogen peroxide.

Yeah, did you know your own body makes hydrogen peroxide? It does in actual big amounts. Hydrogen peroxide is made by the superoxide dismutase gene and is eliminated by glutathione.

You’ve probably heard me talk about glutathione for a number of years. Why? Because glutathione acts as the body’s master antioxidant. Hear that? It acts as a major antioxidant. The job of glutathione is to break down hydrogen peroxide. The glutathione that breaks down hydrogen peroxide is created by the glutathione peroxidase gene, the GPX gene.

Some individuals have a reduced ability for their GPX enzyme to function. So, it’s important to know how your glutathione peroxidase functions. Your catalase chain also helps you get rid of hydrogen peroxide. Now, you’ve probably heard of nitroglycerin given to cardiovascular patients for their heart health. Nitroglycerin and Viagra are used to make nitric oxide.

So, if your nitric oxide synthase genes are dirty or they’re not working, then your ability to produce nitric oxide] goes down. Your hands get cold. Your feet get cold. Your blood vessels are not as big. You’re more likely to be winded, not have as good endurance, and you possibly will have heart issues and higher blood pressures.

Nitric oxide is produced to fight illnesses. It supports your brain and neurotransmission. It also supports your blood flow. Peroxynitrate is another compound. It’s produced from nitric oxide plus superoxide. Now, this stuff is crazy, crazy bad. So, a combination of nitric oxide plus superoxide becoming peroxynitrate is toxic stuff.

Hydroxyl groups are also bad. This is where oxygen is combined with iron, or copper, or manganese. That is why you will not see copper, manganese, or iron in some supplements at Seeking Health because I know that these are possibly pro-oxidative. A number of our customers at Seeking Health are already in pro-oxidative states. So, I want to be careful for them. And make sure they are taking multivitamins without copper, manganese, or iron in them. Optimal Start is one of our multivitamins without these pro-oxidative nutrients.

How many times have you taken iron and felt worse? Doctor says, “Oh, Sally, your ferritin levels are low,” put you on iron, and what happens? You are in crazy amounts of pain. Why? Because you have huge amounts of pro-oxidants in your body. You have a lot of hydroxyl groups, and you have low levels of antioxidant defenses. This has happened to my wife. She was given IV iron once because her serum ferritin was really low, but my wife also had persistent illness.

The last pro-oxidant that I know of offhand is basically hypochlorous acid, otherwise known as bleach. Your immune system via macrophages makes hydrochloric acid in order to kill stuff. So, your immune cells will leach this stuff onto microbes or some pathogens. It wipes them out. That’s pretty cool, right?

So, those are six pro-oxidants. They all have different functions. They have good benefits. If you didn’t have them, you’d have persistent illness, and you’d be sick all the time. Again, pro-oxidants are good.

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Antioxidants Made By Your Body

Now, common antioxidant-like nutrients and antioxidant enzymes made in vivo by your body, I know of four right away. These are actually made inside your body. Glutathione, used by your glutathione peroxidase genes and synthesized from your glutathione synthase genes. Glutathione is most concentrated in your liver, thank goodness because that’s where a lot of stuff is being cleaned up.

A quick tip, if you notice that suddenly, your vision has gotten worse over the last month or two, it could be your endogenous levels of glutathione.

Maybe your eyes don’t seem as bright. The world doesn’t seem as bright to you. Things are a little bit duller. You could have a lower level of glutathione. You have a huge amount of glutathione naturally found in your eyes. You also have a lot of glutathione found in your lungs.

Paraoxonase is another antioxidant-like nutrient made from your PON1 genes, which you can test for in StrateGene. This is really important for supporting healthy cholesterol. If you have a dirty PON1, then you’re probably not going to be synthesizing paraoxonase very well. Then you’re going to have oxidized cholesterol, which can lead to all sorts of heart issues.

Catalase comes from the CAT gene, which also helps get rid of hydrogen peroxide and uric acid. Interestingly, uric acid is the same compound that’s associated with gout. So, if you think uric acid is all bad, you’re wrong. I thought it was all bad, and I was wrong. Uric acid comes from the xanthine oxidase gene. Get this; uric acid accounts for more than 50% of all antioxidant activity in the human serum. In your blood, uric acid accounts for half of all antioxidant properties. That’s amazing. That is really amazing. You’ve got to have your uric acid because you can’t have too much.

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How Does Your Body Make Oxidative Stress?

Now, what are the ways your body makes oxidative stress? To see how important this is, you first have to understand the reasons why your body generates pro-oxidants. And you want to understand a bit about pro-oxidant properties and prooxidant effects. So you understand why you don’t want to just swallow a bunch of antioxidants. Because sometimes they don’t have the protective effect that you want. You want to know what pro-oxidant activity increases oxidative stress.

If you are feeling a bit down and out, that is when you should take your antioxidants.

There are about 17 ways that I came up with that you can generate oxidative stress in your own body. You break something. You have an injury, and that will cause a signal for your body to repair. You’re not going to signal repair without pro-oxidants. pro-oxidants will tell your body, “Oh, there’s a problem, come over here.” It’s like the ambulance or the police car or the fire truck. It tells the body, “Hey, we have a problem over here; clean up on aisle six. Come and fix it, please.” So, injury, exercise. Now, again, you want to exercise mildly and moderately, not excessively. Breathing pollutants, we breathe 11,000 liters of air every single day. So, air matters. I would say air is first, water second in terms of purity. So, filter your air.

The UV from the sun is very, very damaging to your skin. It can obviously lead to problems with your skin, right? So, you’ve got to be careful in the UV. Some say that the higher the antioxidant level in your skin, the less likely you are going to burn. So, take your antioxidants if you’re going to go lay out in the sun, if you go to the tropics, or you live in a very sunny area with high UV. I will be consuming more antioxidants during that time for sure.

If you overeat anything, anything. Now, I’m talking keto. If you think you’re keto because you’re wolfing down a bunch of exogenous ketones, no, no, sorry, that’s not keto because you can still have higher insulin levels. You could still be consuming too much protein. Ketogenic diets are done wrong all the time. That could lead to high pro-oxidative stress. You’ve got to do it right. Overeating is a big, big cause of oxidative stress. Those of you with metabolic dysfunction, imbalanced blood sugars, you’ve got oxidative stress, hands down. You’ve got to take care of that.

Being stressed out actually shrinks your brain. It burns it up. Your hypothalamus shrinks. Yup. So, don’t be stressed out. Easy to say, but seriously, being stressed out is very, very peroxidative. Being dehydrated, I’m a bit dehydrated now. I’ve been talking most of my day behind this microphone in front of the camera. So, don’t be dehydrated.

You have a persistent illness, any virus, any infection, any type of bacteria. H. pylori or an imbalanced microbiome will wreak havoc. Why? Because your immune system senses these things and mounts a pro-oxidative attack on them. Any type of pathogen or bad bacteria or virus in your system is going to trigger your immune system to fight. It’s going to go fight using oxygen and adding it to certain compounds to make pro-oxidants. You’re going to be fighting these pathogens and these bad bugs with hypochlorous acid, with superoxide, with peroxynitrate. You’re going to kill them, but you better kill them and get on with it because if you keep going, you’ll damage your own tissues. That’s where autoimmunity comes into play.

If you undereat, lack nutrition, lack macronutrients. If you’re not eating properly and you’re malnourished, you’re going to have oxidative stress. Chemical exposure, especially mold, heavy metals, EMF, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, formaldehyde, yes, all these things contribute to oxidative stress. Your cytochrome P450 genes are your primary phase one detoxification genes. They metabolize almost every medication on the planet.

Every time you’re engaging your cytochrome P450 genes to function, to detoxify something, they are producing hydrogen peroxide, a pro-oxidant. So, if you are detoxing because you are told to detox by your doctor or some health coach or yourself or some Facebook group, and you feel worse, you might be pushing your phase one oxidative stress detoxification pathway too hard. You don’t have enough glutathione on board to neutralize the hydrogen peroxide generated by your detoxification system.

Medications like Tylenol deplete your glutathione in one dose.

If you’re taking Tylenol, you are eliminating a key component of your antioxidant system. You are producing a pro-oxidative system. Vaccines, why? Because they increase your immune system in a big way. Vaccines unnaturally stimulate your immune system with adjuvants, which are compounds designed to tell your immune system to get up, wake up, and go fight emergencies all over the place. That is why vaccines make antibodies so effectively is because your immune system gets on high-powered overdrive.

You’re eating foods that you’re intolerant to, which drives up your immune system and creates oxidative stress. You have persistent fatigue. Why does that cause oxidative stress and other issues? Because your mitochondria are not burning oxygen to make energy, right? If you have persistent fatigue, that means your mitochondria are not making energy for you. Your mitochondria are using oxygen to make oxidative stress compounds.

Thinking causes oxidative stress and pro-oxidants. What? Yes, your dopamine, your serotonin, your norepinephrine, your epinephrine. They all get broken down by enzymes called monoamine oxidases. Hear that? Monoamine oxidases and these particular enzymes generate a lot of hydrogen peroxide.

The more you think, the more you use your brain, the more stressed out you are, the more you have the ability to make these neurotransmitters, the more oxidative stress you have in your brain. So, the more you think, the more you study, the more you fret, the more oxidative stress you have in your brain because you’re breaking down these neurotransmitters through these genes called monoamine oxidases. They release hydroxide and ammonia.

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How to Measure Oxidative Stress

How do I measure my oxidative stress? How can you apply this knowledge right now? Scratch yourself. Take your arm, take your other hand, and scratch yourself. Now, if you’ve got red streaks or you can write your name, and I could write Ben on my arm or MTHFR, or folic acid sucks with my fingernail on my arm, and you could read it, that would mean I have high histamine levels. Histamine stimulates your immune system. It also helps regulate your immune system. The fact of the matter is, if you have that much histamine and you can scratch on your arm, dermatographia, it’s called, then you probably have a lot of oxidative stress going on. You have low levels of antioxidants.

Fatigue, a big one, but general, right? I mean, fatigue, I mean, come on, everyone gets tired. Maybe by 2 pm, you have general fatigue because your body is more pro-oxidative than oxidative. Think about it, if you’re thinking all the time and you’ve been stressed out at work, you’ve been exposed to chemicals from the printer and from the off-gassing of the carpet in the office, and you snorted down some exhaust in the car that you were following in traffic on the way to work, these are all things that predispose you to oxidative stress, which then predispose you to be a little less focused, but also more tired at work. So, these are issues.

Headaches. If you have frequent headaches, then your body’s ability to burn sugar and glucose in your brain is reduced. Your mitochondria are not generating enough energy. Being dehydrated is also a huge issue. You can pinch your skin. How fast does it retract? So, my skin just bounces right back. If your skin goes down slowly, then you’re dehydrated.

Let’s say you work out. Or you go for a walk. Or you go up and down the stairs at work. You do this several days in a row, and you’re just sore as all get out. That’s because you’ve trashed your antioxidant level. They’re gone. If you work out and consistently have sore muscles for days, then that’s a problem. Now, look, I get it. If you haven’t worked out a long time and you go lift weights, yeah, you’re going to be sore. But if you’re continually working out and you are continually having sore muscles for days to the point where you have to take things like aspirin, then that’s an issue. You are working out too much.

What my wife does now because she has that NOX gene, remember that we talked about? She is super sensitive to exercise. If she exercises too hard or not even that hard, she makes a lot of superoxide, and then she has an inability to get rid of that superoxide because her glutathione genes are not so good. What we’ve learned is prior to her doing exercise, she needs to take PQQ. If she takes a PQQ Lozenge by Seeking Health prior to going on a hike with me and Victor, our dog, or doing yoga, or going swimming, or biking, or kayaking for a period of time, if she takes PQQ, she does not get post-workout soreness. If she forgets, it’s game over for a week.

Supplementing with PQQ can be a game-changer for you, too.

I invite you to try it because, for my wife, it’s been phenomenal. I don’t take it because I want the oxidative stress that I get from exercise. Because some oxidative stress is good, as we talked about earlier, to stimulate more mitochondria. But my wife has too much, so we need to knock it down a bit.

Your eyes, now. I’ve got my blue-blocking glasses from BLUblox that I really enjoy. They’re geeky-looking, but I tell you, since I’ve been wearing these, I keep them in my office. So, this is a prescription pair. I keep these in my office every day. They live in here. I have another pair right by my bed that are the amber lenses. I work all day behind the screen. That’s just how it is. That’s my job. But I will read stuff off the screen, which is high blue light. Even though I have a blue light filter on my screen, it’s not good enough. I’m still feeling it. I would get tired within a couple of hours.

Now, with these BLUblox glasses, I can sit there and I can work for hours without even moving or I stand here and work for hours. It’s been a massive game-changer. So, I invite you to get some BLUblox. You can use code BEN15 to save 15% off at blublox.com. My whole family has them. Our youngest, Theo, uses them a lot. Nadia, my wife, falls asleep too fast when she wears them because they increase melatonin very quickly.

Measuring Antioxidant Levels: Lab Markers

Let’s talk lab markers. Let’s say you want to get some scientific assays done. You want to look at your biochemistry to see where your pro-oxidative stress and your antioxidant levels are. You can. I tried to minimize the amount of lab testing that you have to do because it’s expensive, right? It’s a pain. You have to get stabbed. You have to drive. You have to make an appointment. Lab testing for biomarkers does have its place, though.

To keep it simple and affordable, I’ve got some easy labs that you can get everywhere for the most part. I have 10 of them. The first is GGT, gamma-glutamyl transferase. Say that 10 times fast. If this is elevated, you have low glutathione levels, most likely. It is the first sign of fatty liver. If your GGT is elevated, it’s a sign that there’s some oxidative stress going on in your body. And that you need to figure out what the source is. It could be bugs. It could be too much exercise. It could be alcohol. It could be chemicals. Whatever it is, it’s something that your liver isn’t happy about, and glutathione levels are problematic. You need to get it going again. It could be pesticide exposures or low antioxidant levels in general. But GGT is super cheap.

Then you can do ALT and AST. These are liver enzymes. Your liver enzymes get high because they’re working to get rid of toxicity in your body. Your genes make enzymes. If there’s a problem, then your genes are stimulated to make more enzymes to get rid of that problem by dialing up enzymatic function. If you do a lab test and see that your genes have made all these enzymes, then you know these genes have been working double-time to help you get rid of all these problems. If your enzymes are in the normal range, then you know your genes are working very hard to make more of these enzymes. Why? Because they don’t have to work very hard. Remember, your genes work when they have to work to do.

8-Hydroxydeoxyguanosine is a marker of DNA damage. Vitamin D, yes, it really helps calm your immune system. So, you got to make sure your vitamin D levels are good. hs-CRP, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. Very cheap, it should be. hs-CRP is a general marker of inflammation. All of these tests are actually general markers. So, you don’t really know where the problem is. But with some good health professionals and some sleuthing and thinking about all the things I’ve shown you (remember those 17 sources of oxidative stress?). You can go through that list.

Blood glucose, you do a simple finger stick. Fasting is also good. First thing in the morning, you do a fasting blood glucose. If it’s 100 or 105 or 110 fasting, that’s too high. Get to work. You’ve got to lower that sucker. HbA1c, , and uric acid, all pretty inexpensive and easy to order.

Antioxidants can become pro-oxidants.

There are four antioxidants that I know of offhand that can become pro-oxidants. So, if you are saying, “Ben, I took some of these antioxidants. I now feel worse. Why?” Well, yeah, they are antioxidants, but they can actually become pro-oxidative. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid/ascorbate) is classic. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, yes, in low amounts. In high amounts, it’s pro-oxidative. It’s damaging to tissues. It will kill things. So, doctors will use high dose vitamin C for various treatments, and they will use low amounts of vitamin C for various treatments. Vitamin E as well, easily damaged. Vitamin A and selenium can all be oxidized and damaged.

Now, does that mean you avoid them? No. It means that you should be mindful. If you take these and you feel worse, then maybe you have low glutathione, or maybe you have high levels of oxidative stress from somewhere. Maybe your blood sugar’s too high. Maybe you’re overtraining. That’s a big one.

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When to NOT Take Antioxidants

There are times when you do not want to take any oxidants. When should you not take antioxidants? Generally speaking, unless you’re like my wife who has a lot of post-workout soreness; if you’re generally healthy, you don’t want to take antioxidants post-workout. Because i’s that little bit of oxidative stress that you get from exercising or lifting weights or playing sports that allow your mitochondria to reproduce, for your muscles to get bigger, and for your fitness to improve.

You want some oxidative stress prior to working out.

Unless you have a really, really hard workout or a big training coming up where you got high-intensity interval training or something, and you know it’s going to be a grind. Then try some PQQ Lozenge prior to working out or immediately after. I’m talking immediately after.

You may not want to take antioxidants if you’re undergoing oxidative therapies like:

  • Ozone therapy
  • Hyperbaric oxygen chambers
  • IV NAD
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy

If you are undergoing any of these pro-oxidative therapies with your health professional, antioxidants can destroy the benefit of these pro-oxidative therapies.

These pro-oxidative therapies are designed to help eliminate some types of cells in your body that need to go. IV NAD, hyperbaric oxygen chambers, ozone therapies, chemotherapies, and radiations are all very pro-oxidative. You do not want to be taking antioxidants during that time.

Now, if you are doing these treatments and you feel awful for a long period of time, even after doing them, then you talk to your health professional about taking some antioxidants to clean up the fire because these treatments literally are putting your body on fire.

Another time when you don’t want to take antioxidants is when you want to feel how your body is doing without anything. I love this. I think it’s really a key point that is often not discussed enough. There need to be times where you just don’t supplement. You just don’t. Unless you’re informed to keep going from your healthcare professional, pull yourself off of all supplements and find out what your baseline is for any given day. A weekend could be cool, or on a holiday or a vacation could be great after you fly because flying is pretty darn toxic. But just feel how it is to not take any supplements. Find out what your baseline is.

Now during a seasonal illness, if you’re healthy, you do not want to be taking antioxidants generally speaking. If you are starting to get sick, your body is going to be mounting an immune response and generating a bunch of reactive oxygen species (ROS). If you are getting sick, a common seasonal illness, if you are taking antioxidants at that time in low amounts, you’re probably not going to be supporting your immune system very well. Now, if you are taking high amounts of vitamin C, that could be a good thing because high amounts of vitamin C are pro-oxidative.

If you’re taking a gram of vitamin C multiple times throughout the day, that amount is going to be pro-oxidative. So, that could be beneficial. Talk to your doctor about it, but you want to have your immune system mount an oxidative response. So it can kill whatever it needs to kill, whatever is causing your seasonal illness.

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When Should You Take Antioxidants?

Now, when do you want to take antioxidants? I can think of eight instances. It’s a balancing act. I think you should take some every day. Now, wait a minute, Ben. You just said not to take some every day. That’s with supplementation. I’m talking food, okay? You can get most of your antioxidants from food. Dietary antioxidants. Berries are amazing. Every day, I use frozen organic blueberries in my smoothie with the Optimal Prenatal with pea protein. That’s my breakfast. Sometimes I’ll put some goat milk in there. Sometimes I’ll use other berries, but frozen blueberries are my usual go-to. That’s where I get a lot of my antioxidants from those amazing blueberries.

Green tea, time-restricted feeding, intermittent fasting, focused breathing, nature walks are all great for helping contribute to the parasympathetic system, which is very restorative and calming.

After you’ve been sick, your body has been burnt to a crisp. Your cells have been roasted. It’s been a warzone. You’ve dropped bombs all over your body. All of your cells are laying exploded. The cleanup crew is oxidative compounds. Hypochlorous acid and stuff will also clean up, but you also need to get some antioxidants in there to repair the innocent bystanders from that war that just went on. After you’ve been sick, you need to get some antioxidants into your system.

Think back to any moments where you’ve been sick, and it just took forever to get better. What do you do? Take some antioxidants. Try some glutathione. Try some liposomal glutathione. Try some CoQ10. Try some PQQ. You might feel this burst of energy. Why? Because that oxidative stress just got knocked down, and your mitochondria just said, “Thank you.” Too much toxic stress on your mitochondria is going to prevent them from working. They can’t make your energy, and you’re going to feel tired. In a warzone, your mitochondria don’t work to make energy. They work to increase the warzone.

You’ve got to replenish the glutathione. Glutathione is naturally found in the highest amounts inside your mitochondria out of any cell component in your body. After you’re sick, your glutathione levels are gone or very, very low. And your mitochondria cannot make energy, and you’re trashed. So, I urge you, after sickness, please take some antioxidants. If you are already low in antioxidants and have risk factors such as high blood sugar, obesity, heart issues, cardiovascular disease, chronic diseases, or preexistent persistent illness, then you probably need to be taking some antioxidants on a recurring basis while you’re working on improving those.

After any significantly hard workout or exercise, not a light one, consider antioxidants. After swimming in a pool or hot tub with lots of chlorine. Chlorine depletes glutathione. New carpets, cooking with gas, stuck in traffic, shopping for new clothes, home is remodeled, new car: all of these things are known to have higher levels of formaldehyde and formaldehyde. What do you need? Yup, glutathione.

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Chemical exposures, take antioxidants, especially glutathione. This is an important point that is not talked about very often, and I want to hit this home for you. Antioxidants have a shelf life in your body. Just because you swallow vitamin C does not mean that that vitamin C is just going to keep working wonders. Remember, high amounts of vitamin C can predispose you to high oxidative stress levels. Why? Because vitamin C, by its very nature of how it’s built, is an antioxidant. But it itself becomes a pro-oxidant after it does its job of quenching a pro-oxidant by donating an electron. Same thing with vitamin E. After vitamin C donates its electron to a free radical, it itself becomes a free radical.

Ok, that was a lot for antioxidants and pro-oxidants. I knew it was going to be. There is some important information that I’ve shared with you here. I encourage you to go to the Seeking Health website and read this blog in its entirety. If you’re looking for good-quality antioxidant supplements, you can find them at Seeking Health. But keep in mind that there’s a time and there’s a place when you should be taking antioxidants. There’s a time and place where you should be avoiding them.

I hope that clarified things for you. I hope you understand and respect your body and appreciate it when you are feeling sick and let it go, but then nourish your body after. So, that’s it for another Dirty Genes episode here on the Dirty Genes Podcast. Until next time, take care. Bye-bye.


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Comments (1)

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    Renee Krivoshein

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    Thank you so much, very good knowledge for everyone to hear!!

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