Living and working within the City can prove to be extremely detrimental to your health and wellbeing.
As your health will obviously not only be influenced by the foods which you choose to eat each day but also by your body’s ability to remove waste products and toxins known as ‘xenobiotics’ from your body.
Is there anything you can do to improve your ability to remove toxins from your body, and hopefully negate the effects of pollution?
It is essential for all of your cells to be able to rid themselves of toxins, whether these toxins come from your environment, such as pollution, diet, smoke, pesticides, or from your own cellular activity (especially when we train).
Toxins such as Benzene from pollution will interfere with cell functions, which can lead to the development of many diseases.
Your body must be able to remove these toxic substances efficiently before they do significant harm with your liver being the primary organ that carries out this detoxification.
Its function is to render toxic substances less harmful, allowing them to be successfully flushed from your body. Other parts of the body that carry out detoxification include the skin, lungs, kidneys and colon.
A healthy immune system is extremely important to us all. As every minute of every day your body is either under attack from toxins, bacteria and viruses or producing Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), also referred to as free radicals.
Research is demonstrating that free radicals cause oxidative stress and damage your DNA, which leads to ageing and underlies all disease processes, including cardiovascular disease, dementia and diabetes, premature ageing and plays a role in the development of cancer.
There are a variety of anti-oxidants genes that we need to look at, such as MnSOD, CAT and GPX1 are known as the ‘primary anti-oxidant‘ defence system, as they are far more effective in neutralising ROS than exogenous (produced outside the body) anti-oxidants, such as dietary vitamins C and E, carotenoids and polyphenols derived from plant foods.
This latter group is known as the ‘Secondary Anti-oxidant’ defence system.
The reason for the powerful effect of the primary anti-oxidants is that all 3 are enzymes, which are proteins that promote a chemical process but don’t get consumed in the process.
Consequently, these anti-oxidants can literally neutralise millions of free radicals per minute and will continue to do so for over 3 to 4 days until the enzyme is broken down within the cell and is replaced.
Compared to the secondary anti-oxidants, which support the primary anti-oxidants, such as dietary vitamins C and E, carotenoids and polyphenols derived from plant foods, have limited activity, as these are anti-oxidant molecules, which can only neutralise ROS once.
Poor liver health, inflammation, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, environmental toxins, chemotherapy, radiation, and smoking will all increase free radical production and can lead to DNA damage.
Your body produces antioxidant enzymes, which remove these ROS. Genetically, some people do not produce good levels of these antioxidant enzymes and are at risk of increased oxidative damage.
Again your body’s own antioxidant enzymes are far more powerful than any antioxidant supplement, so to decrease oxidative stress you need to enhance your ability to produce these antioxidant enzymes.
Adding key nutrients to your diet to help enhance the antioxidant genes is obviously the route to go.
Epidemiological studies have reported that regular consumption of lycopene, which is found in a variety of foods such as spinach and tomatoes significantly, induced antioxidant enzymes.
We also have 2 other key nutrients that we need to consider:
Selenium is an extremely important antioxidant, which prevents cellular and subcellular lipids and fats from being peroxidised, meaning it prevents body fats from going rancid, which are seen externally as “Age and Liver spots”.
The antioxidant protection qualities of selenium have been well publicised, and is increasingly recognised as a versatile anticarcinogen.
Selenium is also required for the activity of a group of enzymes called
Glutathione peroxidases, which plays a critical role in the body’s detoxification pathways, it’s also involved in recycling of vitamin C from its used form back to active.
Selenium deficiency has a few symptoms’ to look out for, such as: muscle tenderness and weakness, chronic fatigue, and as previously mentioned “Age Spots”.
It is also extremely important in supporting healthy thyroid function, as selenium-containing enzyme is responsible for transporting T4 less active thyroid hormone into the more active T3.
Top 5 Selenium Foods (Animal)
• Tuna 4oz 120.50mcg
• Shrimp 4oz 55.00mcg
• Sardines 3oz 45.50mcg
• Salmon 4oz 42.00mcg
• Cod 4oz 30.50mcg
Top 5 Selenium Foods (Plants)
• Tofu 4oz 19.50mcg
• Brown Rice 1 cup 19.00mcg
• Sunflower seeds 0.25 cup 18.50mcg
• Mushroom, Shiitake 0.5 cup 18.00mcg
• Asparagus 1 cup 10.50mcg
Trying to improve glutathione levels can be fairly tricky and can only really be achieved from increasing all the necessary nutrients/cofactors and precursors needed to manufacture it internally.
Glutathione foods can be divided into two categories: foods that contain the glutathione molecule and foods that stimulate glutathione production and/or up regulate the activity of glutathione enzymes.
The amount of dietary glutathione that is available is relatively small compared to the amount of glutathione manufactured internally and found within your body.
On average we will get around 80-150mg of glutathione from our food each day, which is extremely small as on average a healthy adult will have roughly 10000mg circulating within the body.
Therefore, the majority of glutathione will be produced internally using nutrients/cofactors and precursors such as selenium, cysteine, glycine and glutamate.
Our immune health is closely linked with our intestinal health, and how well you will be absorbing, transporting and then genetically converting each specific vitamin and mineral that is required to manufacture glutathione.
Cooking will reduce the glutathione content in food, as will the length of time that it is stored.
Only uncooked raw vegetables, fruit, raw eggs, raw unpasteurised milk and dairy, raw or rare meats are rich in glutathione. Cooked, pasteurised and processed foods contain far less glutathione or none at all.
When looking as to which foods to eat each day we need to add both foods higher in glutathione such as asparagus and avocado, as well as foods that stimulate glutathione production such as turmeric and cinnamon.
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