Have you ever heard of Nrf2? Nrf2 is the biological agent that pulls the trigger on protecting our bodies from oxidant stress and free radical damage. For years we have known that molecules known as oxidants and free radicals were behind the organ and tissue degeneration that comes with aging and disease. Now a brand new study of Nrf2 is showing what just might be the best way for us to protect ourselves from this damage.
Nrf2 stands for nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2. Now you don't need to know that. But you may want to know that in a recent review article on Nrf2 the authors concluded that it determines not only how fast you age, but also how long you will live. The title of the article says a lot, "Nrf2, a Guardian of Healthspan and Gatekeeper of Species Longevity." In that article, the authors called Nrf2, "The master regulator of the aging process." Across every species tested so far, the animals that have the most Nrf2 live the longest.
Nrf2 is a transcription factor. That means that when your body produces it, it causes your genes to synthesize certain proteins and enzymes. In the case of Nrf2, the enzymes made are the antioxidant enzymes. Antioxidant enzymes are what the body uses to protect itself from the damaging action of free radicals and oxidants. The Nrf2 antioxidant pathway is "the primary cellular defense against the cytotoxic effects of oxidative stress." But that's not all it does. Nrf2 protects our cells by activating more than 200 other genes. These other genes are crucial in the elimination of toxins. They also protect against the ravages of inflammation. And they remove damaged cells and proteins from your body.
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Nrf2 is so absolutely important that it is found in every single cell in the body. The highest levels are naturally in the key detoxification organs — the kidney and the liver. Nrf2 interacts with other important cell regulators such as tumor suppressor protein 53 (p53) and nuclear factor-kappa beta (NF-kB). p53 is the most protective gene we have against cancer. NF-kB is the primary enzyme that protects us from inflammation. The authors of the article on Nrf2 that I mentioned above call the combined action of Nrf2, p53, and NF-kB "the guardian of healthspan, protecting against many age-related diseases, including cancer and neurodegeneration." Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, here's the problem.
Nrf2 can't be put in a bottle so you can take a few capsules every day. It has to be made in your body. One of the most potent stimulators of Nrf2 production is intense aerobic exercise. But a new study is showing us that there is another way. And it might be an even better way than hard exercise.
On Wednesday, I'll tell you all you need to know to maximize the ability of Nrf2 to protect you from the aging process and disease. Stay tuned....
Yours for better health,