The Surprising Cause Behind This Highly Destructive Process
Chris D. Meletis, ND (with permission from cpmedical.net, access pin: 587556)
For a long time, scientists have known that free radical damage is an important component of insulin resistance, one of the most important factors leading to diabetes and other diseases. Up until now, scientists have thought that the excessive numbers of free radicals produced in prediabetic people with insulin resistance were a consequence of the insulin resistance rather than the cause. Recently, however, a study indicates that free radical damage might have an even more important role to play in insulin resistance than previously thought.
Free radicals are molecules known as reactive oxygen species (ROS). This group of molecules also includes oxygen ions and peroxides. ROS form as a natural byproduct of the normal metabolism of oxygen and have important roles in cell signaling. However, during times of environmental stress ROS levels can increase dramatically, which can significantly damage cell structures. This leads to a situation known as oxidative stress. ROS are also generated when the body is exposed to stress, pollution, chemicals, cigarette smoke, oxygen, radiation, alcohol, high-fat foods, ozone, food additives, and fuel emissions. ROS are also generated during physical exercise.
Under normal circumstances, cells can defend themselves against ROS damage through the use of enzymes such as superoxide dismutases and catalases. Antioxidants produced in the body also defend against ROS. However, when ROS levels rise dramatically, the levels of antioxidants produced in the body may not be enough to completely scavenge the destructive molecules. Consequently, ROS can damage DNA, RNA, and proteins, the process by which ROS and free radicals contribute to aging.