Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Free Radicals Good. Free Radicals Bad.

This article on the BBC caught my eye, in which it is claimed that vitamins 'undo exercise efforts':

  • Some advocate taking antioxidants like vitamin C and E to help protect the body from harmful chemical by-products it creates in breaking into a sweat. But German scientists now believe these "free radicals" may actually be good for us and even buffer against diabetes, PNAS reports.

It goes on to say:

  • But Dr Michael Ristow, of the University of Jena, and his team have shown free radicals may have a positive effect on the body by increasing its sensitivity to insulin - something that is lost in type 2 diabetes.
So 'cancer causing' free radicals' may now actually be good for us! Personally, I rarely take vitamins pills of any sort. I might take the odd vitamin D pill - but only to get me through winter - and even then infrequently. I am not in to that whole 'run to the pills' mentality.

I try to get all my required vitamins and minerals from a healthy diet consisting of animal and (seasonal) plant food, along with regular outdoor activity and so such stories don't affect me personally.

However, there are people I know who pop vitamins like they are going out of fashion, along with solutions of protein, energy drinks and pro-biotics. None of this appeals to me. Follow the paleo compass!

Another story also caught my eye - 'Sporadic Exercise Can Harm'. Now clearly this hit deep in to my paleo-heart as sporadic exercise is what I do. Not only that, but those damned 'free radicals' reared their ugly head again, only this time to do bad things to us!

  • Scientists at the University of Ulster have found that unaccustomed, aerobic exercise releases dangerous free radicals that can adversely affect normal function in unfit people.
The research involved 'two groups of volunteers, giving one group a mixture of antioxidants, and the other a placebo':
  • "Cellular damage was induced by exercise. But we found that the group who were on the antioxidants had been protected to some extent".

Hmmm - is it just me or do these stories seem to conflict just a wee bit. The latter story does contain this gem:

  • "Blood analysis revealed that the exhaustive aerobic exercise caused damage to important DNA and lipid molecules."
Finally, something I can relate to! It is early days yet and I am sure we will get to see more detail from these papers in the fullness of time.

In the meantime (and just in case you missed it the first time around), follow your paleo compass!

1 comment:

Methuselah said...

Never was there a better example of why following instinct is better than following the science at this point.