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~Thoughts for Thinking People~
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      (Dr. W.) Increasingly it is becoming clear that an underlying mechanism for most disease is related to free radicals. Free radicals are stable chemicals that have become unstable by having one of their electrons removed. A chemical with an unpaired electron is like a drug addict without a drug. To get their fix they will steal, cheat, lie, beg and do desperate, damaging and disruptive acts. Consequences are not a concern.

      Free radicals do everything they can to steal an electron fix from whatever is nearby. If they are successful, that leaves the victim chemical now without an electron so it becomes desperate to replace it and goes about stealing from others and an escalating chain reaction begins. In biological systems, where intricacy and balance are critical, this "wild child" chemical behavior is devastating. From such biochemical disruption can begin every manner of disease –dis-ease, your chemicals are not at ease.

      Most people are now aware of antioxidant supplements designed to stop such oxidation (I will use oxidation and free radical pathology synonymously here) in the body, but do not understand the importance of preventing oxidation in the foods we eat. (1) Food free radicals are a major source of body free radicals.

      Unsaturated fats are particularly vulnerable to free radical formation. Food processors hydrogenate (remove free-radical susceptible double bonds) to solidify liquid oils and decrease free radical vulnerability. But by so doing, they remove nutritional value and introduce trans-fat toxins. But no matter, they increase their bottom line by increasing shelf life –at your health's expense.

      The more nutritionally valuable the fat, the more unsaturated it is and the more vulnerable it is. If a fat has one double bond (unsaturation) its rate of oxidation is 100 times greater than a saturated fat with no double bonds. If two double bonds, it is 1200 times greater; if three, 2500 times. Omega-3 fatty acids, the healthy ones we are all hearing about, have three double bonds and are thus very vulnerable. So beware of foods that contain unsaturated fats, particularly packaged foods that sit on the shelf. If the manufacturer does not have the expertise to properly protect those fats, you or your pet may be getting a whopping free radical dose with every morsel. Even with the best of protection, high omega-3 processed foods are fragile and potentially dangerous. To significantly increase omega-3s in the diet, fresh oils or fresh foods high in these oils should be used.

      The rate of oxidation in food depends upon factors such as degree of unsaturation of the fats, heat, light, presence of oxygen, lipoxygenase enzymes, prooxidant metals such as nickel, tin, iron and copper (good reason not to cook with cookware where these metals contact the food), heme (blood) iron and photosensitizers such as chlorophyll, myoglobin, riboflavin (vitamin B-2) and heavy metals such as lead and mercury.

      Oxidation in food occurs by autooxidation in the presence of oxygen and other initiators as mentioned above, or by photooxidation where ground-state oxygen is converted to singlet oxygen by light and sensitizers, which very aggressively (1500 times more reactive than stable triplet oxygen) attacks fatty acid double bonds.

      An understanding of this rather complex chemistry (I have only touched upon it here) provides clues to the prevention of food free radicals and with that the protection of important and fragile nutrients. (2)

      Food antioxidants, both natural and synthetic, have the ability to absorb (quench) the oxidation process by contributing an electron to free radicals. This is not a limitless ability. They become spent and can even be prooxidants themselves if added to foods above certain critical levels. Carotenoids, the colored pigments in plants, can convert singlet oxygen back to its more stable ground state. Vitamin C also helps neutralize singlet oxygen. Metal chelators, like citric acid from citrus, can tie up prooxidant metals. Glycosides, phospholipids, aromatic amines, sulfhydrals, peptides and amino acids in soy are also protective. Extracts from herbs, such as carnosic acid and carnosol from rosemary, thyme, sage and oregano have antioxidant activity. The fats and oils used in processed foods can also be supersaturated with inert natural gases to force reactive oxygen out.

      Some antioxidants work well for plant oils, whereas they do not for animal fats, and visa versa. In this regard consider that plants contain highly unsaturated oils that remain stable while out in the air and relentless sunshine. They do this through their own inherent antioxidants, like vitamin C, E, carotenoids and so forth. By extracting these elements from the plant for use in processed foods, some of these same benefits are derived.

      The point I want to make here is that food oxidation is serious business. Improperly stabilized foods are lethal. No, you will not keel over immediately, but you will over time –or at least be racked with painful debilitating disease.

      When you eat or feed fresh food from the vine, you are safest. When you eat processed foods from manufacturers who have competence and are committed to health, that is next best. Using foods that are designed like trinkets, or from manufacturers that do not really know what they are doing apart from marketing hokum, is high risk.

      Use foods that perish easily but eat them before they do. Don't look for long shelf life. Real food, by nature, is perishable. Keep tightly sealed, vacuum pack and freeze or refrigerate when possible. Seal and freeze chips and other snacks. (They even taste better that way.) If it doesn't taste right, don't eat it. Rancidity is caused by the by-products of food oxidation. Refrigerate butter and oils.

      Avoid heating oils if possible. If you do, add an antioxidant specifically designed for food. (3) Rather than cooking with fats and oils, add them after you are done cooking. For an examples of how to make such foods see this reference. (3-6)

      Treat nutritious foods like the fragile blessings they are and enjoy the health that can resul

Best of health to you and yours from all of us here at Wysong.

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