What comes first, Oxidative Stress or Inflammation? It’s confusing!
There are many health and wellness companies promoting their products and I often see the headline “Inflammation Causes Oxidative Stress”. Granted, the companies promoting this are trying to sell their product geared toward lowering oxidative stress, which is a good thing, but it isn’t the whole story when it comes to oxidative stress and inflammation. Can inflammation cause oxidative stress? Sure, but it can also be the other way around as oxidative stress can cause excessive inflammation.
If you’re thinking, “who cares as long as we target oxidative stress, it doesn’t matter”, I encourage you to read on. It’s about getting your cells doing what they should be doing and preventing oxidative stress and chronic inflammation from happening in the first place. Yes, there are a number of approaches to this and most involve everyone taking the same supplement hoping for the same result. The best way to approach it is through an analysis and a custom formula and recommendations to ensure you’re doing exactly what your body needs.
Taking a single supplement that targets free radicals may not be getting to the route of the problem, which is how your body is built to handle either problem on a cellular level. Taking a single broad supplement that target “stress” within the cells, often referred to as biohacking is a bit like throwing a dart at a dartboard blindfolded and hoping you hit the bull’s-eye with the right ingredients and the right dosage that your body needs.
It’s important to understand what oxidative stress is.
“Oxidative stress is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body, which can lead to cell and tissue damage. Oxidative stress occurs naturally and plays a role in the aging process.” Stacy Sampson, DO
What does this mean? Our cells produce both free radicals and antioxidants during normal metabolic processes. The antioxidants, primarily glutathione s-transferases, work to neutralize the free radicals. When there is an excess of free radicals long term the result is oxidative stress. Research is showing that long-term oxidative stress can accelerate aging and, inflammation triggered by oxidative stress is the root cause of many diseases. Research is showing it may play a role in chronic inflammation, inflammatory disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, cardiovascular (high blood pressure, stroke), chronic fatigue, asthma and male infertility.
Now that we know what it is, lets look at possible oxidative stress causes.
Diet, lifestyle choices, environmental factors and genetics can all be contributors. Believe it or not we can do something about most of them. We’re all adults here and we know that a healthy lifestyle includes healthy food choices and nutrients, regular exercise and limiting vices like drinking and smoking. I don’t think I need to spend time talking more about that here. We are also exposed to environmental factors like pollution and that can be hard to avoid day to day, let’s be real. Genetics can be a big factor and what most people don’t realize is that once you know what your specific genes look like, many variants can be mitigated to help your body do what it should and help keep a proper balance.
There is an oxidative stress support gene called GSTP1. This gene, if it has variants passed down by one or both parents may not function optimally. Why is this important to know? It is important because it is one of many glutathione s-transferases, a set of enzymes found in many cells that work to neutralize free radicals. Glutathione is the most potent antioxidant found in human cells and it works with GSTP1 to neutralize foreign compounds. Once neutralized it is non- toxic and can be excreted from the body, thereby reducing oxidative stress. Variants or SNP’s (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms) lead to decreased activity of the GSTP1 protein making the cell more vulnerable to oxidative stress. Once variants have been identified, it is critical to supplement properly to ensure maximum antioxidant support and a healthy inflammatory response.
How does inflammation work?
You may think of inflammation as an acute response to trauma in the body and you are correct but there is also chronic inflammation. Chronic, long term inflammation can be caused by oxidative stress as discussed above but it may also be caused by SNP’s in two genes. CRP or, C-reactive protein and TNF-a or, TNF alpha are two genes responsible for healthy inflammation response in our cells and body. Through inflammation, the body responds to attack from various sources such as pathogens, damaged cells or irritants.
How does the CRP gene work?
CRP can be evaluated genetically for variants or SNP’s and C-reactive proteins can also be detected as a blood marker for inflammation. It works by levels rising quickly as a consequence of viral, bacterial inflammation, coronary heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and some cancers. CRP is an acute phase that is produced in the liver and then secreted into the bloodstream. It is stimulated by the IL-6 (a healthy immune system gene), which is produced by fat cells and increased levels are found in obese people. Chronically increased IL-6 is associated with a number of chronic diseases including diabetes, atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. If a person possesses a SNP in the CRP or IL-6 genes, proper supplementation can inhibit activity and support inflammatory responses. In other words, it’s a good thing to have CRP for acute inflammation but if variants are present it needs to be inhibited so it doesn’t get out of control with it’s response. Studies are showing that C-reactive protein is strongly associated with oxidative stress. Proper supplementation can help with variants in both CRP and IL-6 to regulate the expression of the inflammatory process. If an individual is obese, it is critical to get control of their weight as their IL-6 levels will be high genetic variant or not.
How does TNF-a work?
The TNF-a gene regulates production of TNF-a, a chemical messenger of the immune system that plays a role in inflammatory responses. TNF-a responds to inflammation by mobilizing white blood cells in response to injuries or illness. Good in the short term but long term if there is too much produced, it can negatively affect the cells, tissues and ultimately the organs. The goal is a healthy balance for optimal inflammatory response.
Here is where TNF-a inflammation contributes to oxidative stress. High levels of TNF-a can cause an increase in free radicals. Remember how we said that a long term imbalance of free radicals to antioxidants causes oxidative stress? What can cause TNF-a too produce high levels? Your genetic expression; are you seeing a pattern here? Variants in the gene can cause over activity and it is critical to supplement accordingly with ingredients that will inhibit TNF-a activity.
I know I’ve thrown a lot of information at you and you may be confused as to what to do next. Maybe you’re someone who didn’t want to know all the science gobbledygook and you skip right to the conclusions. Either way, it’s easiest to wind this up in point form.
- Oxidative stress can cause inflammation or it can be caused by inflammation
- Oxidative Stress occurs when there is a long term imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body
- Long-term oxidative stress can accelerate aging and, inflammation triggered by oxidative stress is the cause of many diseases. Research is showing it may play a role in chronic inflammation, inflammatory disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, cardiovascular (high blood pressure, stroke), chronic fatigue, asthma and male infertility.
- Diet, lifestyle choices, environmental and genetics can all play a role. Once you know what your specific gene looks like, any variants can be mitigated to help your body to what it should and help keep a proper balance
- There is an oxidative stress support gene called GSTP1. This gene, if it has variants passed down by one or both parents may not function optimally and this needs to be mitigated.
- Chronic, long term inflammation can be caused by oxidative stress, but it may also be caused by SNP’s in two genes responsible for healthy inflammation response in our cells and body.
- The importance of healthy lifestyle choice and knowledge of specific genetic SNP’s cannot be underestimated. Treating oxidative stress with a single supplement that combats free radicals is one option but getting to the source of the free-radical excess is another.
The information above shows that the body is complex and no single function works in a vacuum. Oxidative stress, healthy immune response and healthy immune system genes all can have an impact together. As not to complicate things too much, I chose to leave out the Detoxification gene but it also helps to scavenge free radicals.
How do you know what’s really going on in your body? You may have had a CRP blood test or perhaps you’ve had a urine or blood test for oxidative stress and you’ve determined you have an issue. Now you have two choices; you can treat the symptom or go find the cause. Your DNA may hold the answers you seek. There is no better way to get to the source than to look at your cells and cellular health, your DNA. Find out what variants you have and get a nutritional formula custom made for you based on those results. We all have genetic variants, it’s normal and it’s part of who we are. Your genetics do not need to be your fate though, there are 18 SNP’s that are actionable with proper nutrition supplementation and, what I’ve written about here is just the tip of the iceberg. Remember, everything works together and it’s important to address your health from a whole body perspective.
A whole body approach with a simple DNA (HIPAA compliant) cheek swab and $99 test. Follow it up with a one month cellular cleanse to get your body primed for your formula and within 30 days your 35 page report is in your email and custom supplements are mailed to you door. The analysis is complicated but made very simple for you.
Are you ready to be proactive with your health? Drop me a message or book a consult, I’d be happy to speak with you.
In good health,