Long Live You: New year, new you: oxidative stress

(Stock photo)

This is the first in a series of articles on the root problems of most chronic illnesses: diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, autoimmune disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic fatigue, Parkinson’s disease and early aging.

Over the next few months, I will share how oxidative stress, inflammation, hormone imbalance and toxins cause chronic illness and how to prevent early aging and chronic illness.

Dr. Marie Steinmetz


When we mix oxygen with food, we get energy. As our body transforms oxygen and food into energy, we make “free radicals.” Free radicals include compounds like peroxides and are like little tornadoes that spin off more little tornadoes.

These free radical tornadoes go around and damage cells. Free radicals damage the protein and fats in cell membranes, mitochondria — which are the energy factories in the cells — and even sometimes DNA, leading to cancer. It is estimated the average human cell sustains 10,000 hits per day from free radicals.

When cells are damaged by free radicals, the body reacts with inflammation. Chronic inflammation can lead to more cell damage. Free radicals lead to a toxic spiral of cell damage, inflammation and cell death.

To stay healthy, the body must maintain a healthy balance between formation of free radicals and destruction of free radicals. How does the body do this? It tries to keep the free radicals within the cells and breaks the free radicals down. It uses antioxidants like vitamin C and E to destroy the free radicals and uses natural repair mechanisms to mend damaged cells.


First, try to avoid toxins like cigarette smoke, pesticides, solvents, ozone and other chemicals that increase free radical production. Second, we must have adequate dietary intake and absorption of antioxidant nutrients found in fruits and vegetables.

Basically, eat more plants so your plate has a variety of colors at every meal. Americans’ poor intake of fruits and vegetables means most Americans do not have enough antioxidants to protect them from the damaging effects of free radicals.


We can actually measure your body’s oxidative stress levels with special lab tests, including glutathione, serum lipid peroxides, 8OhdG and enzymes that increase with oxidative stress. The best defense against oxidative stress is to listen to what your mother always told you: Eat your fruits and vegetables. This means at least five servings a day and 10 or 12 servings are better for maximum health.

Next month, we will learn more about how inflammation causes chronic disease. Hopefully, 2012 will be a year to attain better health by understanding how your body works. So dress up your plate and eat a rainbow of fresh fruits and veggies to fight off free radicals.

Dr. Steinmetz is a board-certified family medical doctor based in Alexandria who uses conventional and integrative practices. She welcomes reader questions at info@caringdoc.com.



  1. Great Article: it appears that oxidative stress is finally receiving the recontition that it deserves. If you look under the pubmed.gov website there have been approximately 94,000 studies done on it . In the last year that I have been involved with Protandim the number has increased from approximately 73,000 to 94,000. that means that someone has gotten really interested and spending money to find out what is happening.

    Protandim – the only patented product guaranteed to reduce oxidative stress by 40 – 70% in 100% of the people that take it! couldn’t resist the plug. I would love to discuss this further. Thanks for the article Roger Sanders

  2. I am a 36 year old male and I have recently become aware of the effects of free radical damage. I was introduced to the only product that is known to have a drastic effect on reducing free radicals by an average of 40% and that is Protandim. I began taking it back in April 2011. I had a multitude of health problems that began with a simple fall causing lower disc problems. The problems became escalated with medication and improper tapering off of it. For the past two and a half years I have been almost completely bedridden. As of today I am off all of my medications and I am the healthiest I have been since I was 20. I will always take Protandim because I know how much it changed my life. If you would like more info visit my website @ http://www.lifevantage.com/193724.

  3. Dear Dr. Steinmetz,
    I just came across your article. Until 4 months ago I had never heard about oxidative stress and gluathione. I have always took vitimins and supplements.
    I was introduced to Protandim about 4 months ago and after researching the product for a month I decided to give it a try. Now 3 months later I can truthfully say that I do feel better and have more energy. I do not feel like I need a nap at 3:00 pm everyday like I used to. I would like to know if you have heard of this product? And if so what is your opinion.
    Sharon Gentry

  4. My mom is taking Protandim, a product that has been shown to reduce oxidative stress by 40-60%. She has been on dialysis five days a week. Since she has been taking this product her kidneys have starting working again to the amazement of her health care professionals. It is truly amazing what our bodies can do when given the right food.

    Thanks for educating us on the impact oxidative stress has on our lives. Thanks to Dr Joe McCord who gives us a way to combat this enemy.

    • Hi Janine,
      I’m just wondering how is your mom doing on Protandim? My husbands mom is going to dialysis and we are trying to get her on Protandim but it would be nice to hear from someone with the same problem. Can you please let us know about your moms improvement? Thank you for your time. Ildiko

  5. Dr. Steinmetz, thank you for the informative article. With all due respect, the best treatment for oxidative stress available today is an over-the-counter supplement called Protandim. It has been clinically proven to reduce oxidative stress 40% in the first 30 days in every test subject. Pubmed.gov lists 9 completed peer reviewed clinical studies on Protandim. There are still 20+ ongoing clinical trials at present. Your suggestion to lower oxidative stress is to eat a balanced diet. Although this is still sage advice for proper health, it simply will not lower our oxidative stress enough to make an effective difference.

  6. Good information for everyone concerned about preventing age related diseases. My husband and I take a little yellow pill every day called Protandim. It is the only supplement on the market that is clinically proven to reduce oxidative stress by 40-70% in everyone. It completely eliminates the age-related increase in oxidative stress, slowing down the aging process at the cellular level. No other natural supplement does what Protandim does, and this has been proven in clinical research through peer-reviewed university studies. These can be viewed by searching “Protandim” on http://www.PubMed.gov. Approximately 20 more studies are in process at universities and research facilities worldwide that are investigating the effects of Protandim on a variety of major diseases.

  7. Great article, I’m so glad that oxidative Stress is getting some attention by medical professionals! I’ve recently discovered a new product called Protandim, it caught my attention because it is the only product on the market to actually reverse free radical damage. My husband has been taking Protandim for almost 4 months now and he credits it for saving him from shoulder surgery. He couldn’t throw, lift weight or raise his left arm above his head for almost a year and within 2 months the pain was nearly gone. Today he says he’ll never stop taking Protandim not only for all the other health improvements but especially for saving him from an expensive surgery, & long painful recovery. If you haven’t looked into this product it has 9 peer-reviewed studies as well as 4 patents and many more studies are currently being conducted because of their relation to oxidative stress! Thanks for the great article!

  8. Hi Dr. Steinmetz, fantastic article on oxidative stress. I was wondering if you would be willing to take an honest look at a product called Protandim and review the 9 studies published on pubmed.gov?
    I am an independent distributor and have done extensive research on oxidative stress the last 2 years and from what I have read, it appears that traditional direct antioxidants like C and E are wholly ineffective at reducing oxidative stress because the fight free radicals on a 1 to 1 basis. I would love your opinion as I have contacted many “experts” in the field, and although they would not dispute the effectiveness of Protandim, they would not endorse it either. I have been stunned by the lack of commitment to share with the population a product that could potentially reduce the susceptibility to disease, because of the business model.
    Thank you for your consideration.


  9. I have Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. I manage my own condition because medical doctors do nothing for me and Pharmesuetical medicines do even less, often exacerbating my negative symptoms. I have been taking Protandim for less than two months. My back is not hurting as much and I am able to stand and walk without pain or help. I have more energy and almost non-existant spasms in my legs compared to before I started taking it. I look into as much information as I can and I am open to trying new things if the information includes scientific proof. There is a lot of science behind Protandim and I have talked to a few medical professionals who wholly endorse it’s use. Please look into the published studies. Thank you.

    Anne Murphy