This is a continuation of the last post which expanded on a topic brought up in the previous post. Nrf2 is an important chemical produced within the body when hormone D is available to turn on the gene that encodes Nrf2 and then Nrf2 can activate many other genes which are the map/encode/are the recipe card for proteins which are our own natural antioxidants and which are important for detoxifying the oxidative stress free radicals which are a natural part of energy production – turning glucose/blood sugar into usable energy.
The idea of taking one capsule of an ‘Nrf2 Activator’ seems great and might seem like a natural idea to our medicine mindset, however medicine and food are different. Medicines that can be taken in one pill per day tend to be something that triggers other events and which might not be needed within every single cell. Food on the other hand is needed in every single cell, like if every cell were its own Taxi cab in need of gasoline and motor oil and radiator fluid and windshield wiper fluid and whatever other things go on within a motor vehicle – we just think about the gasoline because it is needed most often but the car also needs those other fluids which can be reused for awhile. Medicine in a single pill per day type is more like the windshield wiper fluid or motor oil – it lasts awhile but eventually runs out or becomes less efficient.
A brief glance at the list of phytonutrients and foods that help promote production of Nrf2 suggests that since it is needed in every single cell of the body – as energy production and free radical production take place in every single cell – that it needs to be produced in a larger quantity and more regularly throughout the day then any one capsule might be able to promote/activate.
Magic bullet/one pill a day medications are not the same as the essential building blocks of the bulk macronutrients, protein, fats, and carbohydrates; or even the same as the trace micronutrients, the vitamins, minerals, phospholipids and essential amino acids, fatty acids and essential sugars/starches (specialized types of carbohydrates), which are needed in smaller amounts then the bulk supply of protein, carbohydrates and fats. Improving intake of any one group is going to help health but to really help improve health all the groups, macro and micronutrients, are needed on a regular basis. Some can be stored longer than a day or two because they are fat soluble and are stored within cell membranes and other fat storage areas of the body but even those run out eventually. Vitamin D is a trace nutrient that can be made within our bodies during sun exposure if adequate cholesterol is available (it is a slight chemical modification of the cholesterol molecule) and supplies that are made during summertime in areas with seasonal changes can last throughout most of the winter but tend to start running out during early spring/late winter.
Skipping ahead a bit – I have several of the chronic conditions that were listed in the last post and I have several genetic differences from average that may be making it more likely for me to have difficulties producing some of the important factors involved in detoxifying oxidative stress chemicals. I have managed to change my diet enough to feel better and to have the chronic conditions be considered ‘in remission’ but I know that it has to do with my daily habits in diet and in the supplements that I’ve added to my daily routine. When I get forgetful or too stressed to remember the supplements or start eating fewer of the healthy foods I’ve added my symptoms can start returning very quickly. So the idea of taking one capsule of ‘Nrf2 Activator’ per day seems like a nice but very unrealistic idea. Every cell of the body produces free radicals all day long, they need antioxidants all day long, which means they need Nrf2 helping promote production of our own natural antioxidants – all day long.
I’ll get back to the menu and recipe ideas shortly but first a list of the supplements I take – the herbal supplements can vary somewhat from month to month as they may all be beneficial but they all cost some money but they don’t cost as much as expensive hospital bills or expensive pharmaceuticals (chemotherapy for cancer can cost a quarter of a million dollars). I have to avoid some nutrients as my genetic condition leaves me at risk of excess for some things and my autoimmune hyperthyroid condition is made worse by too much iodine intake so I take some B vitamins and trace minerals as individual supplements everyday but I’m only going to list the herbal supplements here. They may be beneficial because they are likely to have some of the list of phytonutrients mentioned as promoting Nrf2 in the last post. I’m sharing this list not as a recommendation but as an example of what I find helpful to help keep my own autoimmune, chronic inflammatory bowel, migraine, chronic pain and itch problems mostly in remission and help with mood stability as I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the last few years – it can be made worse by menopause or may be menopause, I’m hoping to get more stable moods as I move further through ‘the change.’
-I try to get only supplements with vegetarian gelatin or gelatin free and free of modified food starch as those ingredients may make my health worse – in alphabetical order for ease of reference:
- Artemisinin – 200 mg, I just added this one, I’m not sure if I will continue it past the first bottles that I ordered.
- Astragalus – 500 mg – this is also a recent addition.
- Black Cohosh – 300 mg – this is for menopausal female support.
- Dong Quai – 1.13 grams – also for menopausal female support.
- A mixture for menopause support which contains Maca extract, Angelica gigas, Pholomis umbrosa, Cynanchum wilfordii, and Cordyceps extract (a beneficial mushroom). – 1590 mg total for the mixture. This is a recent addition but I’ve found the Black Cohosh and Dong Quai helpful for a few years.
- While on the area of menopause support I also have used a topical Wild Yam Extract cream for a natural source of progesterone. I’m better with it then without. Menopause for women starts as peri-menopause and the process can last more than a decade.
- Gingko Bilobo – 60 mg. I’ve taken this off and on for many years. It may be helpful for mental sharpness/brain vascular system. My migraines may have to do with blood vessel problems.
- Kava Root – 800 mg – I have taken this for a few months as it may help promote more stable mood and my mood swings were quite bad for a while.
- Milk Thistle – 1260 mg/ 240 mg active phytonutrients – This may help with liver health and I added when reading about the importance of the liver for basically everything else in the body. I’ve only been taking it for a few months/ half a year.
- Oil of Oregano – 60 mg – I eat Italian Seasoning in teaspoon quantities on my salads, it is an herb mix containing oregano however the health benefits are suggested to be beneficial for general health and the oil is a more concentrated source. Eating larger quantities of oregano would be very strong flavor. I’ve been taking the concentrated oil for at least a half a year or more, it seems helpful. It is difficult to really know if something helps – it is easier to tell once you run out of something and don’t replace it if you start feeling a little worse again.
- Resveratrol – 250 mg, with Quercetin – 150 mg – I’ve taken both of these off and on for many years. They are both antioxidants that may help with skin health and general well being is a good general term.
- Slippery Elm Powder – 400 mg – I’ve taken this off and on over the years whenever I have a bad cold with a sore throat as it was in a soothing tea. The herb provides a mucilaginous protective coating to the digestive lining. More recently I added it about a year ago when my digestive problems began – it’s my go to herb for gastrointestinal tract problems. Marshmallow Root powder would act similarly. I have recently also been having a Tablespoon of Chia seeds in water everyday as they also help the GI tract in a similar way. Water soluble fiber is another term for mucilaginous substances.
So taking one bottle with one capsule per day of an Nrf2 Activator sounds like a nice idea for a pharmaceutical representative but not for dietitian recommendation.
The list of phytonutrients, for convenience:
Specific foods or phytochemicals mentioned to help increase Nrf2 include:
- sulforaphane from cruciferous vegetables, (such as broccoli and cauliflower);
- foods high in phenolic antioxidants, (This is a large group including bright yellow and red fruits and vegetables, and deep purple produce. The group includes the subgroup flavonoids which include anthocyanins, flavonols, and it also includes the less familiar subgroup chalcones which are found in the commonly used fruits apples, pears and strawberries. The group also includes aldehydes which are found in vanilla and cinnamon, phenolic acids which include salicyclic acid, and tannins which are found in tea, coffee and wine. Baking cocoa and cherries, beans and whole grains are also mentioned, the summary point would be eat more fruits and vegetables; see: (11))
- the long-chained omega-3 fats DHA and EPA, (salmon, tuna, sardines, krill oil, ground flax meal, walnuts, hemp seed kernels);
- carotenoids (especially lycopene), (such as carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, apricots, and lycopene is in tomato, watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava);
- sulfur compounds from allum vegetables, (such as onions, garlic, shallots, green onions);
- isothiocyanates from the cabbage group and
- terpenoid-rich foods. (Terpenes are found in real lemon and lime oil, rosemary, oregano, basil and other aromatic green herbs).
- The Mediterranean and the traditional Okinawan Diets are also mentioned as being Nrf2 promoting diets. See: (1)
Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.
- Joseph Mercola, The Harmful Effects of Electromagnetic Fields Explained, wakeup-world.com, Dec. 22, 2017, https://wakeup-world.com/2017/12/22/the-harmful-effects-of-electromagnetic-fields-explained/ (1)
- Maria de Lourdes Reis Giada, Chapter 4: Food Phenolic Compounds: Main Classes, Sources and Their Antioxidant Power, Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology » “Oxidative Stress and Chronic Degenerative Diseases – A Role for Antioxidants”, book edited by José A. Morales-González, ISBN 978-953-51-1123-8, Published: May 22, 2013 https://www.intechopen.com/books/oxidative-stress-and-chronic-degenerative-diseases-a-role-for-antioxidants/food-phenolic-compounds-main-classes-sources-and-their-antioxidant-power (11)