2010 Integrative Healthcare Symposium
Beyond Antioxidants: Nutrigenomic Regulation of the Adaptive Stress Response
Friday, 02/26/2010 3:30PM - 5:00PM , Room Beckman Parlor
Description: Many epidemiologic studies have found a decreased incidence and/or severity of chronic inflammatory diseases in individuals who consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Most inflammatory diseases are associated with increased levels of free radicals—a condition known as oxidative stress. Since fruits and vegetables are high in vitamin C, beta carotene, vitamin E and other antioxidants that effectively neutralize free radicals in a test tube, it is reasonable to assume that taking these chemicals as nutritional supplements would have the same effect as eating the food. However, numerous clinical studies have failed to show the expected benefits. The emerging science of nutrigenomics offers an explanation for this apparent paradox: it is not the simple chemical antioxidants in foods that confer their benefit, but rather a unique group of compounds made by plants for protection against predators. An extensive body of research has shown that when we consume typical dietary levels of these compounds, they create small amounts of free radical stress inside our cells. In the same way that a grain of sand induces an oyster to make a pearl, these phytochemicals induce our genes to make an array of antioxidant and detoxifying enzymes in a highly coordinated manner called the adaptive stress response. This “indirect” enzymatic antioxidant effect is much more potent and long lasting than what can be achieved by taking “direct” antioxidants like vitamin C. This presentation will review the cellular signaling pathways involved in this process and the potential therapeutic benefits of activating it by eating certain plant foods and extracts made from them.
Speaker(s): Panelist: Robert Rountree, MD