July 04, 2015

Free radicals, antioxidants and Izumio

Below is an excerpt from a medical textbook, which explains the concept of free radicals and antioxidant in simple layman language.

An excerpt from the medical textbook Contemporary Ayurveda
by H. Sharma, M.D., and C. Clark, M.D.
(Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 1998; ISBN: 0 443 05594 7)

Cancers, strokes, and cataracts seem as different from one another as any diseases could be.  It's hard to imagine them sharing a single cause.  Yet a growing body of research suggests that they do.  The causal chain behind these and many other diseases, perhaps behind aging itself, includes a common link: a class of molecules known as free radicals. 

Some researchers believe that the discovery of the effects of free radicals may be as big an advance as Pasteur's insights into infectious disease.  In a sense, free radicals take medical theory one level deeper.  While the mechanisms of infectious disease involve microorganisms and cells, free radicals involve something more fundamental: the subatomic realm of electrons.

Free radicals are molecules, usually of oxygen, that have lost an electron.  That loss makes them unstable (in chemical terms, reactive).  They begin to covet their neighboring molecules' electrons.  In stealing an electron, they operate as terrorists in the body.  They can attack DNA, leading to dysfunction, mutation, and cancer.  They can attack enzymes and proteins, disrupting normal cell activities, or cell membranes, producing a chain reaction of destruction.  Such membrane damage in the cells that line our blood vessels can lead to hardening and thickening of the arteries and eventually to heart attacks and strokes.  Free-radical attacks on collagen can cause cross-linking of protein molecules, resulting in stiffness in the tissue.

Formation of free radicals

Antioxidants neutralizing free radicals


The most dangerous free radicals are the small, mobile, and highly reactive oxy radicals.  Other dangerous atomic and molecular varieties of oxygen are known as reactive oxygen species (ROS).  While ROS are not technically free radicals, they are no less unstable and are highly reactive with the molecules around them.

Biomedical research shows increasingly that oxidative stress – the constant attack by oxy radicals and ROS – contributes to both the initiation and the promotion of many major diseases.  Oxidative attacks help cause the disease in the first place, and then add impetus to its spread in the body.  In the case of heart disease, oxidative stress can cause major damage even after treatment has been applied.

The implications of free radicals and ROS go further.  It now seems that the 'clinical presentation' of many diseases – how the illness appears when a patient arrives at a clinic – may in part reflect not different causal mechanisms, but variations in the protection provided by the body's antioxidant (anti-oxidative stress) defenses.  In a hurricane, the weakest section of a house collapses first, whether it is a window, a door, or a roof.  Under oxidative stress, the weakest link in the body may be the first to give way.

A long and disturbing list of diseases is now linked to oxy radicals and ROS (see Box 8.1).  The onslaught of free radicals and ROS also contributes to many of the less serious but still troubling symptoms of aging, such as wrinkled skin, gray hair, balding, and bodily stiffness.  Oxy radicals have also been linked to such minor but bothersome conditions as dandruff and hangovers.  One of the most experienced free-radical researchers, the Japanese biochemist Yukie Niwa, estimates that at least 85% of chronic and degenerative diseases result from oxidative damage.

Box 8.1 Diseases linked to oxy radicals and reactive oxygen species
Cancer
Arteriosclerosis, atherosclerosis
Heart disease
Cerebrovascular disease
Stroke
Emphysema
Diabetes mellitus
Rheumatoid arthritis
Osteoporosis
Ulcers
Sunburn
Cataracts
Crohn's disease
Behcet’s disease
Aging
Senility

 
Benefits of free radicals
The many chemical reactions that occur in the body inevitably produce free radicals. The body can, however, usually keep these free radicals under control. Moreover, despite the long list of problems they cause, free radicals are not all bad. They play an essential role in a healthy human body. The body tries to harness the destructive power of the most dangerous free radicals - the oxy radicals and ROS - for use in the immune system and in inflammatory reactions. Certain cells in these systems engulf bacteria or viruses, take up oxygen molecules from the bloodstream, remove an electron to create a flood of oxy radicals and ROS, and bombard the invader with the resulting toxic shower. This aggressive use of toxic oxygen species is remarkably effective in protecting the body against infectious organisms.

Unfortunately, the process may go out of control, creating a chain reaction that leads to over-production of free radicals.  These reactions are no less damaging to the body than other formations of free radicals.

 
The causes of free radicals
Production of free radicals in the body is continuous and inescapable. The basic causes include the following:

The immune system
As we have just seen, immune system cells deliberately create oxy radicals and ROS as weapons.

Energy production
The energy-producing process in every cell generates oxy radicals and ROS as toxic waste, continuously and abundantly.  Oxygen is used to burn glucose molecules that act as the body's fuel.  In this energy-freeing operation, oxy radicals are thrown off as destructive by-products.  Given the insatiable hunger of oxygen, there is no way to have it suffusing the body's energy-producing processes without the constant creation of oxy radicals and ROS.

The cell includes a number of metabolic processes, each of which can produce different free radicals.  Thus, even a single cell can produce many different kinds of free radicals.

Stress
The pressures common in industrial societies can trigger the body's stress response.  In turn, the stress response creates free radicals in abundance. The stress response races the body's energy-creating apparatus, increasing the number of free radicals as a toxic by-product. Moreover, the hormones that mediate the stress reaction in the body - cortisol and catecholamines - will themselves degenerate into particularly destructive free radicals. Researchers now know one way in which stress may cause disease. A stressful life mass-produces free radicals.

Pollution and other external substances
The pollutants produced by modern technologies often generate free radicals in the body. The food most of us buy contains farm chemicals, including fertilizers and pesticides that produce free radicals when we ingest them. Prescription drugs often have the same effect; their harmful side-effects may be caused by the free radicals they generate.

Processed foods frequently contain high levels of lipid peroxides, which produce free radicals that damage the cardiovascular system. Cigarette smoke generates high free-radical concentrations; much of the lung damage associated with smoking is caused by free radicals. Air pollution has similar effects. Alcohol is a potent generator of free radicals (although red wine contains antioxidants that counteract this effect).

In addition, free radicals can result from all types of electromagnetic radiation-including sun-light. Exposure to sunlight generates free radicals that age the skin, causing roughness and wrinkles. If the exposure is prolonged, skin cancer may result. (See Box 8.2).

Box 8.2 Some common external causes of free radicals
Toxins
Drugs
Air pollution
Radiation/ sunlight
Ingested substances
carbon tetrachloride
  adriamycin
carbon monoxide
 
peroxidized fats in meat and cheese
paraquat
bleomycin
nitric oxide
 
smoked and barbecued food
benzo(a)pyrene
mitomycin C
aldehydes
 
deep-fried foods
aniline dyes
nitrofurantoin
alkyl nitrates
 
alcohol
toluene
chlorpromazine
 
 
 

 
 
Free radical defences
Given the many sources of free radicals, it is not surprising that all aerobic forms of life maintain elaborate anti-free-radical defense systems, also known as antioxidant systems.

Enzymes
Every cell in the body creates its own "bomb squad"-antioxidant enzymes (complex, machine-like proteins) whose specialty is defusing oxy radicals and ROS. The most thoroughly studied defense enzyme, superoxide dismutase (SOD), takes hold of molecules of superoxide - a particularly destructive free radical-and changes them to a much less reactive form.

SOD and another important antioxidant enzyme set, the glutathione system, work within the cell. By contrast, circulating biochemicals such as uric acid and ceruloplasmin react with free radicals in the intercellular spaces and bloodstream.

Nutrients
The substances that plants create to fight free radicals can help the human body do the same thing. Thus, as a second line of defense, the body makes use of many standard vitamins and other nutrients to quench the oxy radicals' thirst for electrons. Among the many substances used are Vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and bioflavonoids. Some free radical researchers believe that to quench free radicals effectively, the general level of all of these free-radical-fighting nutrients needs to be much higher than nutritional experts have generally thought.

Self repair
The body also has systems to repair or replace damaged building blocks of cells. These systems are rapid and thorough. For example, the system for repairing damage to DNA and other nucleic acids is particularly elaborate and efficient, with various specialized enzymes that locate damaged areas, snip out ruined bits, replace them with the correct sequence of molecules, and seal up the strand once again. Every aspect of the cell receives similar attention. Most protein constituents in the cell, for example, are completely replaced every few days. Scavenger enzymes break used and damaged proteins into their component parts for reuse by the cell.

~~End of excerpt~~

I find the above one of the easiest to read in understanding the deleterious effects of free radicals and the importance of antioxidants, which is why it’s soooo important for us to take the recommended portions of fruits and vegetables in our daily diet.  But in reality, many of us are not able to for various reasons – which is why my family is supplementing our antioxidant needs with Izumio hydrogen water, which contains highly concentrated hydrogen at 2.6 ppm, >3000 times more hydrogen than the miracle water at Lourdes.  If you would like to find out more about Izumio, drop me a note at amomsdiary@yahoo.com.
 
 
 
My other post on Izumio can be found here:
Izumio, hydrogen water

June 27, 2015

Izumio, hydrogen water

Of late, many people are pushing the benefits of “special” water – alkaline water, pi water, hydrogen water, etc.  My first impression, being a pharmacist, is that these must be scams.  How can an element as simple as water purportedly cures various ailments, from the simplest fever to the complex disease of cancer?

I started doing some research to see if there’s any scientific basis at all to support these claims.  Turns out, there are strong scientific rationale and research behind hydrogen water.

At its most simplistic level, molecular hydrogen improves (note that I say improves, not cures) many disease conditions by virtue that it is an extremely powerful antioxidant.  We’ve all been told about how antioxidant is good for the body and molecular hydrogen is one of the most powerful antioxidant.  Free radicals are prevalent in modern living and are the root cause of many diseases, so consumption of antioxidants help combat the deleterious effects of free radicals.  The preferred antioxidant should be substances with (1) low molecular weight, so they can slip from the digestive tract to the bloodstream undamaged, (2) strong anti-oxidant ability, and (3) ability to defuse a wide range of free radicals.

The development of hydrogen water began with the discovery that many of the healing/holy water such as Lourdes in France, Tlacote in Mexico, Nordenau in Germany, Nadana in India and Hita Tenryosui in Japan has a high concentration of hydrogen.  From what I now know, molecular hydrogen satisfies at least the first two criteria for the preferred antioxidant – it has powerful reducing (anti-oxidant) properties, and hydrogen is the smallest molecule known in science.  Japanese scientists began active research on the role of molecular hydrogen only since 2007, so it’s a new area of scientific research.  As of 2014, there are more than 400 scientific publications (including in-vitro, animal as well as human studies) on the role of molecular hydrogen in various disease states.

Looking just at studies conducted in human, hydrogen water has shown beneficial effects in chronic hepatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, endothelial function, metabolic syndrome and diabetes, chemotherapy, skin conditions, Parkinson’s and acute cerebral events; and I believe in years to come, in other disease states where oxidative stress is an underlying pathology.



As a result, my family has started consuming Izumio hydrogen water.



Not that we have any health conditions but because we believe that prevention is better than cure, and consumption of Izumio will certainly reduce the damaging effects of free radicals in our bodies.  If you have a keen interest to ensure optimal health for you and your family and would like to find out more about Izumio, drop me a note at amomsdiary@yahoo.com.

My other posts on Izumio can be found here:
Free radicals, antioxidants and Izumio

June 09, 2015

7th Putrajaya Hot Air Balloon Festival


I’ve heard so much about the Putrajaya Hot Air Balloon Festival and only finally got a chance to witness it this year.  Into its seventh year this year, it took place from March 12-15 at Precinct 2, Putrajaya.  The event this year featured over 20 balloons from 13 countries, including the USA, Germany, Netherlands and France.

We arrived at the site just in time to witness the first balloon floating away.  As it was already too late to purchase a ticket to enter the balloon launching area, we had to be contented to watch the balloons from the outside perimeter of the launching area.  The colourful, teardrop-shaped balloons were indeed a feast for the eyes.  The quirkiest had to be the one in the shape of Vincent van Gogh’s face, which failed to launch J


Close-up of a balloon being prepared

Up up and away

The van Gogh balloon that failed to launch.  Picture on right is of the balloon being deflated.

After all the balloons had lauched, we grabbed a quick breakfast from the many stalls set-up at the area.  There was tent set up for visitors to enjoy their meals but tables and chairs were very much in short supply.  After that, we visited the Cold Inflation balloon – basically a balloon inflated with cold air so visitors can step in to have a feel of what it’s in inside a balloon.

Outside the cold inflation balloon

Inside the cold inflation balloon

Tethered balloons for public to ride
 
Tickets for a ride on the tethered hot air balloons were also sold out, so we went on a helicopter joyride instead – our first time ever J  Girls enjoyed it tremendously.




Putrajaya from the air - Putrajaya is indeed a beautiful place

On the way to the carpark, we stopped by the zorbing arena and the girls burned off some energy zorbing on the water.

Getting into the orb

Fun on the water

March 30, 2015

Lions Club CNY charity dinner

On the 18th day of CNY, we attended a charity dinner for the underprivileged (children and old folks) organized by hubby’s Lions Club.

Members of the lion dance troupe arranging Mandarin oranges for the dance later

The night started with Lions dignitaries and sponsors officiating the event with the cutting of roast pork - yummy

Besides the customary speeches by the Lions dignitaries, there was a lion dance and various performances - stand-up comedy, a duo who made music and various sounds with their mouths, magic show and songs by local artistes.




God of Prosperity making his round around the hall

Stand-up comedian

The duo who made various sounds with just a mic in hand

Magic show

(L) Kids are enthralled by the magician (R) Yiu Yiu was spotted carrying Yan Yan on piggy back so Yan Yan could have a better view...sweet

Performance by local artistes - apparently they were contestants from previous Astro Talent Quest (Astro新秀大赛)

A photo with the cousins

March 24, 2015

CNY 2015 mall decoration

We didn’t get the chance for much mall hopping this year, and managed to visit only Curve and Mid Valley Megamall (and Gardens Mall).


The centerpiece at the Curve was the reconstruction of a Chinese fishing village and seafood restaurant, with wooden platforms and houses with zinc roofs, similar to that of a typical Chinese fishing village like Pulau Ketam.  Red lanterns are hung all around the village to welcome the Chinese New Year.
 


The theme at Midvalley Megamall was Blooming in Abundance, with plenty of spring flowers and red cloth and lanterns everywhere.
 


 


 
 
Over at the Gardens Mall, wisteria was blooming in its full glory for the Under the Wisteria Spell theme this year.








March 18, 2015

Touristy Ipoh Old Town

During last year CNY when we were back in Ipoh, we visited the street art at the back alley between Jalan Masjid (Hume Street) and Jalan Sultan Iskandar Shah (Hugh Low Street).  This time around, more street arts have sprouted, particularly around Ipoh Old Town.  I’ve also heard about the transformations of Ipoh Old Town with development like Sekeping Kong Heng and all the nice cafes and restaurants, so we decided to play tourist when we went back for CNY.

We started our day with breakfast at the famous Kong Heng coffeeshop.  I was also pleasantly surprised to bump into my university coursemate, who was also playing tourist J 


Surprise encounter with Yee Kuan and Ming Chong

After breakfast, we went camwhoring aroung Sekeping Kong Heng before heading to the Concubine’s Lane, where old shops are rejuvenated with a new lease of life, while still maintaining that old world charm.









Girls making their own cotton candy




We also went hunting for several street arts around Ipoh Old Town, drawn by renowned artist, Ernest Zacharevic as part of the Art of Old Town project.
 
Evolution - depicts the evolution of Ipoh from a tin mining town to what it is today

Kopi O - enjoying white coffee is part of Old Town culture and heritage

Old Uncle with coffee cup

Hummingbird

Paper plane - children enjoying their care-free childhood

Girl - tiptoeing on plastic chair to reach the forbidden bird cage


These are not part of Ernest's project but still nice.

 
Another pack of kopi O