What Are Free Radicals and Why Are They Important?

Free radicals are atoms in your body. They are missing an electron so they try to steal one from a healthy cell. When they do it causes damage to the cell and creates free radicals. According to Dr. Amy Meyers, not all free radicals are bad. They are necessary in small amounts to help the heal wounds, break down food and turn its byproducts into nutrients, detoxify, and support the body when it is under stress. The problems begin when there are more free radicals than antioxidants. In excess, free radicals damage cells, proteins, and your DNA and lead to cancer. That’s where glutathione comes in.

The best way to lower excess free radicals is to eat a healthy diet and try to limit your exposures to toxins.

For additional Information:

Very Well Health

Medical news Today

Scientific American


Glutathione Is “Vital To Life”. What Is It? What Does It Do?

According to Richard Lord, PhD, glutathione is “vital to life”, but what is it? Behind water, glutathione is the second most plentiful molecule in your body. It is a sulfur-containing tripeptide – a protein – made up of the amino acids cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine. Glutathione is an intracellular antitoxin and antioxidant  produced in the liver and nerve cells in the central nervous system that neutralizes unstable free radicals (see post here). In excess, free radicals damage cells, proteins, and your DNA and lead to cancer. That’s where glutathione comes in.

“The Mother of All Antioxidants”: Where is Glutathione in Your Body and What Does It Do?

Dr Mark Hyman calls it “the mother of all antioxidants”. Every cell in your body contains glutathione but the brain, lungs and liver have the highest concentrations. In the liver, glutathione helps scavenge and detoxify toxins including chemicals, metals, and radiation and allows your body to excrete them. In the brain, glutathione functions as an antioxidant and mops up free radicals. According to Dr. Jill Carnahan, glutathione also:

  • Regenerates other antioxidants like vitamins C and E
Different Types of Glutathione:

There are two forms of glutathione: reduced glutathione, (GSH), and the oxidized form, glutathione disulfide, (GSSG). Reduced glutathione or GSH is the active form. It is missing an oxygen molecule but has an extra donor electron. GSH is the form that binds to toxins and other free radicals. Under normal circumstances when you are healthy, GSH or reduced glutathione usually represents ninety percent or more of the glutathione in your body. When glutathione donates its electron by bonding to the free radical, it becomes an oxidized free radical, glutathione disulfide (GSSG). With the help of the enzyme glutathione reductase (GR), the oxidized glutathione disulfide gets recycled back to reduced glutathione (GSH).

What Causes Low GSH Levels?

When one or more genes involved in creating and recycling glutathione is missing or mutated and not working well, it creates an imbalance between free radicals and reduced glutathione (GSH). Infection and other diseases usually result. Other genes such as those that predispose a person to allergy or other types of inflammation may also lower glutathione or block recycling of the oxidized form. According to Dr. Hyman, pollution, toxins, medications, stress, trauma, aging, infections and radiation also deplete glutathione. This can overload your liver and detoxification systems and leave you vulnerable to infection and diseases such as cancer.


EWG’s 2022 “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15”

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit publishes a yearly list of pesticides in produce. Their “Dirty Dozen” is a list of crops that are the most contaminated with pesticides. These are the fruits and vegetables that you want to buy organic (or grow yourself) whenever possible. Tip: The Dirty Dozen list contains berries and leafy greens.

EWG’s “Clean Fifteen” are fruits and vegetables that are “clean”. They are at lower risk of pesticide contamination. So it is generally okay to purchase these in the conventional produce aisle. Tip: Generally, the Clean Fifteen have an outer skin, shell or casing that shields them (and you) from pesticides.  Sweet corn, papaya, and summer squash may use genetically engineered seed.

EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” For 2022: 

                          1. Strawberries

                          2. Spinach

                          3. Kale, Collard & Mustard Greens

                          4. Nectarines

                          5. Apples

                          6. Grapes

                          7. Bell & Hot Peppers

                          8. Cherries

                          9. Peaches

                          10. Pears

                          11. Celery

                          12. Tomatoes


EWG’s “Clean Fifteen” For 2022:

                          1. Avocados

                          2. Sweet corn

                          3. Pineapple

                          4. Onions

                          5. Papaya

                          6. Sweet peas (frozen)

                          7. Asparagus

                          8. Honeydew melon

                          9. Kiwi

                          10. Cabbage

                          11. Mushrooms

                          12. Cantaloupe

                          13. Mangoes

                          14. Watermelon

                          15. Sweet Potatoes

NOTE: According to EWG, a small percentage of sweet corn, papaya and summer squash grown in the U.S. is produced from genetically modified seeds. You can work around this by buying these in the organic section, from a local farm that doesn’t use genetically modified seeds, or by growing your own produce from non-GM seeds.

Tips and Resources:  

You can use your cell phone or screen shot to take a photo of EWG’s 2022 lists. Get EWG’s 2022 Guide from their website.                                                                                                                        

What is an FDA Authorized Generic Drug?

An FDA authorized generic drug is the exact same as an approved brand name drug except it has a different label and is usually lower in price than than the brand name drug. Authorized generics may be marketed by the brand name drug company or by another company that has the permission of the brand name drug company. While they do have the manpower to verify whether or not they are still being manufactured and if not, when manufacturing ceased, the FDA has a list of authorized generic drugs on their website. You can also ask your pharmacist whether or not there is an authorized generic version of your medicine.

At Last, Good News About the Pandemic!

Last week pharmaceutical company Merck announced that they have filed for FDA emergency use authorization for their oral COVID -19 pill molnupiravir.   It is a five day treatment, potentially shorter if it is used prophylactically. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb,, author of the book Uncontrolled Spread Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How to Defeat the Next Pandemic and Pfizer board member has called the drug a “ a profound game changer”, especially for the unvaccinated. We don’t know when and how widely available it will be. More importantly (for the majority of us) we don’t know how much it will cost.


Tips for Finding A COVID-19 Vaccine:

On February 27th, 2021 the FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) of Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen division COVID-19 vaccine in US citizens who are 18 or older.  Unlike Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines, the good news for those who hate needles is that J&J’s vaccine only requires one dose.

In February, Pfizer announced that as efficiencies increase, they aim to almost halve the amount of time it takes to produce a batch of COVID-19 vaccine from 110 days to an average 60 days.  According to MSN, while the US expects to have enough COVID-19 vaccines for every adult in May or sooner, expectations may collide with the real world realities of ice storms, hurricanes and other delays.  

Despite the fact that production and distribution of the COVID -19 vaccines continues to ramp up, millions of people who want to get vaccinated are still scrambling to get in line.  According to the Washington Post, although they are at the highest risk of death from the coronavirus, almost half of all seniors have yet to receive their first vaccine shot.  To combat this, the White House Task Force has partnered with health insurers. The companies will reach out to seniors in low income areas to help get them vaccinated. This may be more difficult than it seems because states have different criteria on who is first in line for the shot and how to sign up.

The PBS NewsHour recently published some tips for finding a COVID vaccine.  Here are some excerpts:

Before you call or go online to schedule an appointment:

Check in with your doctor’s office and pharmacist about your health history and whether or not you’ve had an allergic reaction to a vaccine, or other injectable medication in the past that would contraindicate or delay your getting vaccinated.

Contact your insurer, write down the date time that you called and the name of the insurance company representative that you spoke with. Ask them if there are any out-of-pocket costs, co-payments or fees for care.

Have the following information at hand when you call or go online to schedule your appointment and bring it with you when you get your vaccine:

Get an updated summary and a list of medications and supplements that you take and any contraindications or other reactions.  

If you have a pre-existing condition that makes getting a vaccine a priority, ask your doctor if you need a note to verify that you qualify for early vaccination. 

Have your insurance information (including a copy of your insurance card) ready. Contact your insurer, write down the date time that you called and the name of the insurance company representative that you spoke with. Ask them if there are any out-of-pocket costs, co-payments or fees for care.

If you are able, help someone else out. We are all in this together. Things will get back to a new normal faster if we come together and help each other. 



How To Deal With Stress Eating During COVID-19

So, you've tried to buy healthy foods to eat during the lock down. You may have even done some research on how to stock your pandemic pantry  with healthy foods. Somehow, a few bags of potato chips and chocolate chip cookies accidentally showed up at your house the last time you shopped for groceries.

Stress eating is a normal response to being stuck at home by yourself (or with your kids) with a pantry full of food in a world that has changed overnight.

What to do? Do you cave to your salt and chocolate cravings and eat them in one sitting? Do you lock up your pantry so that you can't eat or just feel so bad that you can't eat?

Here are a few resources that might be helpful:

The Washington Post's article "Stress-eating for comfort in a time of anxiety? Here’s how experts say you should deal." Explains why stress eating junk food, or eating too little or not at all can be detrimental to both your psychological and physical health. It gives readers tips on how to identify whether or not you are eating (or not eating) because you're stressed and advice on how to make healthy food and eating choices.

Prevention's article "12 Ways To Stop Your Stress Eating, According To Nutritionists And Food Psychologists" also offers quick tips to help you avoid eating overeating the wrong things or simply overeating.

Psychology Today's article "How to Stop Overeating" written by Susan Biali Haas M.D., an expert on stress and resilience tells  how from the ages of ten through twenty she was "obsessed" with dieting and how she looked.

The article describes how a chance appointment with a dietician changed all of that.  The clinician explained that given the how much exercise she was getting and the minimal amount that she was eating her dieting was suppressing her metabolism and potentially causing weight gain.

The dietician gave her a rule to follow: '...only eat when you're truly hungry, and stop when you're full".'

Twenty years later Dr. Biali Haas is still following that rule and she weighs slightly less than she did when she was dieting.

HEALTHFLIX is a new online community designed to help everyone get through the stress and isolation of the pandemic. They offer both live streaming and You Tube recording of health and wellness programs  led by experts.

You might want to check out their YouTube recording: How to Manage Emotional Eating in Quarantine.

HEALTHFLIX's Chelsea Roff is the founder of Eat Breathe Thrive a nonprofit organization that works to prevent and help people overcome eating disorders. They offer courses and workshops for clinicians, eating disorder patients and everyone else that combine yoga, meditation and community support to enable mindful eating, resilience and feeling good about your body.


Scroll to top