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Antioxidante, Free Radicals and Sports Nutrition

As you know, I am a physician. It's part of my profession to keep abreast of what's happening in medical /health research. Being retired helps, because doctors simply do not generally have the "extra time" to devote to the scientific literature. But I do. And I love it. I am one of those individuals who really enjoys …brace yourself…chemistry.

When I'm done here, you should be excited too, especially if you are interested in sports nutrition and antioxidants, though not necessarily in that order. Sports nutrition is a vast industry with emphasis on optimizing PERFORMANCE. Off hand, I can think of quite a few categories involving sports nutrition: " sports nutrition and supplements for athletes, " sports nutrition and athletic performance, " sports nutrition and body building, " sports nutrition and endurance training, " sports nutrition and special diets in a variety of sports, " sports nutrition and strength training, " sports nutrition for running, jogging, walking, skiing, swimming " There's even Rocky Mountain sports nutrition " …the list is endless. So far, no surprises, huh? Well, here's one for you. Did you know that when you exercise intensively you INCREASE the free radical burden in your body? If you're a serious sports enthusiast, you should know that.

But…the real news is what science is now finding out about that free radical burden of yours. You should pay close attention here. Suddenly, chemistry gets real personal. Everyone of us has, what may be called, our antioxidant protective capacity. That means our bodies normally utilize antioxidants to protect us against the harmful impact of free radicals. First of all, what are antioxidants? They are molecular substances which offset free radical damage to the body. Antioxidants, "quench" free radicals (for lack of a better metaphor) neutralizing their damaging effects on the cells of the body. " Antioxidants are found in foods such as cranberries, green tea and even chocolate. " Antioxidants are found in vitamins such vitamin C and E. " Antioxidants are found in carotenoids such as beta-carotene.

" Antioxidants are found in many substances supplied by the body such as glutathione. " Antioxidants are found in many herbs and enzymes. The impact of antioxidants is boosted by glyconutrients to offset free radicals in your body…and, as a result of your athletic exertions. Antioxidant capacity must be provided in your sports nutrition regimen or you could be "robbing Peter to pay Paul" with your workouts. As you will see, without a glyconutrional presence in your sports nutrition, the healthful gains made by your physical workouts will be offset by your own free radical burden. Free radicals, sports and sports nutrition Free radicals are those chemical species which contain one or more unpaired electrons, capable of independent existence. They form in the body due to a variety of reasons as offshoots of cellular activity or as products introduced to the body from the outside. As an analogy, think of running a car engine as the cellular production and the car emissions a the free radical production. The engine produces products which cannot stay inside the car without further damage. They simply must be neutralized and expelled.

Free radicals form and cause damage by reacting with many substances in your body. It is estimated that upwards of 200,000 free radical attacks occur in our bodies daily. When free radical damage is done, the body can remove the compounds formed by its cellular repair system. However, if the body cannot handle the free radicals (with antioxidants for example), nor remove the compounds, then disease can be the result. Contrary to popular opinion, free radicals do not circulate throughout the body. The half-life of most free radicals varies in a range of a few nanoseconds to about 7 seconds duration. That means they will react within the "neighborhood" (a few Angstroms or microns near where the increase in free radicals occurred) …organs, connective tissue, circulatory or nerve tissue, bone or lymphatic material are all candidates for free radical attack. Wherever they form, they will damage the surrounding areas, unless prevented by the body…So the body does NOT have the luxury of just filtering away any circulatory fluids to find the free radicals. The body's defense systems must be…well…fairly omnipresent to neutralize the effects of free radicals. The antioxidant protective system must be healthy.

Since they are highly reactive substances, they react with all sorts of cell elements readily. But, when they do react with your body cells, they can damage the cells and even kill them. Often, the damage from free radicals can CHANGE the cellular structure enough to cause DISEASE such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and a host of others. The type of disease that occurs is dependent upon which of the free radical defenses in the body weren't functioning properly and where the free radical attacks occur. The body has pretty sophisticated antioxidant defense systems. But, the body CAN get overwhelmed in its antioxidant protections against such free radicals… Indeed, unless antioxidant enhanced sports nutrition (with glyconutrients) are used to offset the increased free radical burden, the BODY will suffer as a result of intensive sports training, stress, and competition. Glyconutrients VITAL to sports nutrition … Studies comparing marathon runners who did and did not take glyconutritional sports nutrition supplements were undertaken. The results were reported by the Proceedings of the Fisher Institute For Medical Research ( August 2003, vol.3, no.


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