In the last several years, researchers have learned unequivocally that the process we normally think of as “aging” is really a process of disease-states taking hold on the body. The typical diseases of aging – diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, and even cancer – can all be outgrowths of free radical damage that sets cellular aging in place. As I’ve explained to you in many of my newsletters, antioxidants are substances that fight these free radicals. They greatly slow down aging and help prevent the onset of many of the diseases of aging. Here, I’d like to tell you how to naturally boost one of your most powerful antioxidants made by your own body. It’s called superoxide dismutase – or SOD – and you’ll want to read all about it.
SOD: The Hardest Working Antioxidant for Your Health
The SOD enzyme was discovered back in 1968 by Irwin Fridorich and his research student. It was found in research to be one of the most powerful antioxidants that your body makes next to catalase and glutathione peroxidase. It is created by your SOD1 gene which creates several types of SOD – some which contain copper, manganese or zinc. Yet, the primary function of all types of SOD is to fight a highly damaging free radical called superoxide.
Superoxide is produced by your cells as a waste product of cell metabolism in creating energy. In this process, your cells also create another highly damaging free radical called hydrogen peroxide or hydroxyl radicals. In reaction to these 2 damaging free radicals, your body makes superoxide dismutase (SOD) to counteract them.
Through a process called dismutation, your body breaks down these dangerous “oxide” radicals – superoxide and peroxide – dismantling them so they cannot damage cells. As you get older, your natural production of this antioxidant decreases. However, your body’s exposure to toxins never slows down.
If your cells become overwhelmed by superoxide (such as what happens in the development of cancer cells), and you don’t have enough SOD to counteract them, the free radical damage process will dominate. As a result, your cells will start to age and die faster. The cells that replace them will be weaker and weaker leaving the door open for serious disease to set in.
The many benefits of having strong SOD levels in your body include:
- Cancer, other major disease fighting/prevention
- Relief of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions throughout your body like IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), fibrosis, psoriasis, etc. Inflammation is now thought by researchers to be the precursor condition leading to disease.
- Beauty specialist/researchers have added SOD to their serums and creams to prevent free radical damage in the skin that results in aging, sagging skin and wrinkles. SOD also helps heal wounds, burns, reduce hyperpigmentation and redness of the skin, as well as protect against UV rays.
- SOD fights against side effects from cancer therapies like chemotherapy and radiation.
How to Boost Your SOD Production Naturally
When the SOD enzyme was discovered, many researchers rushed to create a supplement that could be taken orally to boost our body’s production of SOD. It was found that oral SOD supplements had a hard time getting past our natural stomach acid. It pretty much destroyed the SOD and only a small amount of the supplement was absorbed. In 2013, there are now some SOD supplements available that use gliadin – a wheat protein – with the SOD to protect it from disintegration in stomach acid. There are also some topical creams and sprays that are absorbed into your bloodstream transdermally – through the skin. They can contain good levels of SOD but they can also be quite costly. Yet, you may decide that their antioxidant value is worth the cost.
Nasal sprays, or sublingual drops, are not yet available over the counter as the FDA has not yet approved them for commercial consumption. Some doctors may give injections of SOD and/or prescribe SOD nasal sprays.
There are, however, other, natural ways to boost your SOD levels simply by the food that you eat and supplements you take. Here are some super SOD boosting foods and supplements you should add to your diet every day:
- Fruits: Honeydew (green) melon and cantaloupe (orange melon) contain natural SOD; high Vitamin C fruits like citrus, strawberries, blueberries, wolfberry/goji berries, guava, help your body make SOD in tandem with copper.
- Green vegetables: Barley grass, broccoli, wheatgrass, Brussels sprouts, cabbage are also full of natural SOD. Eating several servings of them a day can ensure a steady supply of SOD in your cells.
- Gliadin: If you eat a little wheat along with your fruit or vegetables, it can help protect the SOD content of them from stomach acid. It’s also contained in corn and soy foods.
- Minerals: Foods rich in copper, zinc and manganese can also help boost SOD production. These include calves liver, crimini mushrooms, spinach, chard, asparagus, sesame seeds, strawberries, oats, green beans, rice, pineapple.
- Vitamins: Vitamin E has been shown to boost SOD by about 30%.
- Oils: Flax oil containing Omega-3’s was found in research out of Sweden to boost SOD levels significantly.
SOD is one of your top antioxidants that your cells rely on to neutralize dangerous superoxide free radicals. If your levels are kept adequate through optimal nutrition, exercise and staying away from known toxins (heavy alcohol, smoking, environmental), you can keep your cells much younger, longer. SOD could quite naturally be the #1 best anti-disease fighter along with being one of the best anti-aging substances around.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.