by Andrew Pacholyk MS L.Ac ~

Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms that have at least one unpaired electron, which makes them highly reactive. Free radicals promote beneficial oxidation that produces energy and kills bacterial invaders. However, in excess, they produce harmful oxidation or oxidative stress that can damage cell membranes and cell contents. [2]. These free radicals cause inflammation.

In human beings, free radicals are the natural by-products of many processes within and among cells. Free radicals are created by exposure to various environmental factors, cigarette and tobacco smoke, air pollution, alcohol, drugs, radiation from televisions and computers, chemicals and a busy, stressful life.

These factors stimulate molecules in the body called transcription factors. The transcription factor is any protein required to initiate or regulate transcription; including both gene regulatory proteins as well as the general transcription factors. These chemical messengers signal DNA to start producing protein, which gives direction to the cells in our body. Transcription factors in the body are harmless, until they are activated by free radicals. Free radicals attack DNA. Free radicals cause the transcription molecules to migrate to the center of the nucleus. Several transcription factors become pro-inflammatory due to free radicals and therefore accelerate the aging process.

NF-kB transcription factor complex is one of the cellular sensors, which responds to oxidative stress and regulates gene expression. NF-kB can increase the activity of genes responsible for inflammation. DNA binding activities of two other transcription factors, AP-1 and Sp-1 are seen as inflammatory agents when activated by free radicals. [3].

Other inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein, homocysteine, and fibrinogen show that these blood indicators of inflammation are strong predictive factors for determining who will suffer a heart attack. [4,5]. Seemingly unrelated diseases have a common link. People who have multiple degenerative disorders often exhibit excess levels of inflammatory markers in their blood. A growing consensus among scientists is that common disorders such as atherosclerosis, colon cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease are all caused in part by a chronic inflammatory syndrome.

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