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Living Longer in Good Health Through OPCs - The Natural Active Substances for the New Millennium
Only a few years ago, nobody could expect laypersons to be familiar with the term “antioxidant”. But this no longer holds true. Our society has become much more conscious of health issues in the meantime. This is in direct response to a more strenuous lifestyle in general, with increasing physical and psychic strain. Immune diseases are on the rise. A primary cause for this development is the fact that our bodies are no longer able to balance the positive and negative aspects of oxidation processes.
The term oxidation refers to the process of oxygen bonding with a different chemical element. We know many natural oxidation processes: if iron corrodes or butter turns rancid, this is the result of oxygen reactions. And we also owe the visible biological aging of our body to oxygen.
Oxygen, however, performs not only destructive but also life-giving functions. Masquelier calls oxygen “a Janus-faced person, somebody with a good as well as a very dangerous side”. We could also say: oxygen is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Oxygen means life: we need oxygen to breathe. Oxygen is also required for a functioning metabolism. Here it assumes the task of splitting nutrients, which the body uses for energy, growth and regeneration. Oxygen molecules have other beneficial effects: they play a major part in the body’s own immune system and defend our organism against certain bacteria and other intruders. In the latter case, our immune system avails itself of the toxicity of oxygen. So much for the Dr. Jekyll feature.
By now, though, oxygen has become more famous for its appearance in the shape of the dangerous, unpredictable Mr. Hyde: oxygen radicals are not stable. They either have one electron too many or one too few, and thus, in a “radical” manner, constantly try to connect with other substances in order to regain stability. These oxygen radicals, that are highly reactive due to the instability, have achieved notoriety. In practice, antioxidants are their counterparts. As a matter of fact, radical oxygen molecules – referred to as “free radicals” – are considered to be the most dangerous attackers of our immune system and are held responsible for a multitude of chronic diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disorders, allergies, cataracts and many more. They incapacitate the body’s natural defence systems. But they succeed in doing so only after a certain period. In youth, the body’s own protective systems usually suffice, but after a certain age they disintegrate. Chronic problems with wear and tear and exhaustion usually manifest themselves after the age of 40, when the free radicals in the body no longer encounter any resistance, thus enabling them to perform their destructive attack on body tissue and blood vessels uninhibited.
Medical and scientific experts increasingly focus on the danger emanating from free radicals in the genesis of numerous diseases. By now free radicals are considered the primary culprits responsible for the aging process. They contribute to the development of certain diseases including arteriosclerosis, rheumatism, diabetes, allergies, Parkinson’s disease, immune deficiencies and high blood pressure. What exactly are free radicals?
They are molecular biochemical substances in human body cells. They have either one electron too many or one too few, so that they are constantly trying to combine with other substances in order to balance the missing or excess electron. This constant reaction in the cells is only beneficial if the defence cells of the immune system are stimulated to fight pathogenic organisms. Another positive effect of free radicals is the release of energy when oxygen combines with other chemical substances.
But if there are too many free radicals in the body cells, oxidation processes take place, which aggressively attack our cells. The cells’ own fatty substances turn “rancid” and the previously mentioned disorders quickly manifest themselves.
Free radicals have their origin in cigarette smoke, x-rays, the sun’s UV radiation, nitrite and nitrate residues in food and in the body cells, where oxygen is incompletely converted. The body checks free radicals by means of enzymes. But these are powerless in the presence of an excessive number of radicals.
It is then that the body requires help from outside: the so-called antioxidants, substances which counteract the oxidation process. They include primarily enzymes, the vitamins C, E and beta carotene, selenium – and above all: OPCs!
Why have free radicals suddenly assumed such an important and dangerous role for our organism? What has changed about our lives? The sad answer is that we humans are ourselves largely responsible for the predominance of this dangerous potential. In addition to natural oxidation, stress and environmental toxins trigger artificially induced oxidative responses.
Environmental toxins: Through the air that we breathe and the water we drink we are exposed to ten thousands of different chemical poisons, ranging from cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes and detergent emissions to numerous chemical additives including preservatives, flavour enhancers, colorants, synthetic sweeteners and all the other ingredients contained in pre-cooked meals, sauce and soup concentrates and many other “foodstuffs”. Insecticides (lindane, DDT), pesticides, fungicides, fertilizers (nitrate, nitrite) and numerous chemical substances (solvents and halogenated hydrocarbons, such as dioxin, PCP, PCB) as well as heavy metals (e.g. mercury in amalgam fillings) put tremendous strain on our immune system and support the position of Mr. Hyde.
Radiation: Excessive exposure to the sun, radioactivity, i.e. earth radiation, as well as the low and high frequency rays emitted by numerous state-of-the-art devices, expose the body to excessive radiation resulting in intense oxidation processes.
Stress: Free radicals are closely linked to stress. They generate stress and conversely are a result of stress. An individual suffering from stress is in a poor physical condition. The weakened organism is unable to protect itself against the attack of free radicals. Conversely, they cause oxidative stress in the body, especially in the case of Aids, and thus, a vicious cycle is set in motion.
Free radicals damage, injure, alter:
– cell membranes
– DNA and genes
– fats and proteins
Free radicals accelerate:
– disintegration of tissue and thus
– aging processes
Free radicals are responsible for an accelerated course of certain degenerative disorders, such as:
– respiratory disorders
– vascular disorders
– organic brain disorders
– kidney failure
– rheumatic arthritis
– Alzheimer’s disease
– Parkinson’s disease
After this threatening list, we are coming to the positive part of this chapter: We do not have to helplessly and hopelessly surrender to free radicals. Fortunately, nature provides us with a number of protective agents, among which the antioxidants in our diet play an essential role. As natural antagonists to free radicals, they protect the body from oxygen-induced harm and can repair damage that has already developed.
The most important antioxidants include vitamin C (ascorbic acid), selenium, beta-carotene, vitamin E (tocopherol) and above all OPCs. We obtain these substances primarily from our food. This is also the reason why a healthy diet comprising plenty of seeds, vegetables and fruit from largely untreated, controlled biological cultivation is of utmost importance. The main suppliers of antioxidants are cereals, beans, meat, seafood and dairy products. Due to increasing environmental pollution, our body has to fight a rising number of free radicals, resulting in a soaring need for antioxidants.
What all antioxidants have in common is that they defend the organism against intruding oxygen radicals; but they have additional protective functions. Vitamin C boosts the immune system, vitamin E strengthens the heart, polyphenols (e.g. in green tea) help prevent cancer and beta-carotene protects the skin.
Among all these potent agents, some substances are particularly effective: OPCs. They combine a number of special benefits, giving them prominence over the other substances.
The special position of OPCs among antioxidants:
– OPCs are quickly absorbed by the body and distributed all over the organism. They fight free radicals especially fast and limit their destructive potential. Thus they provide efficient protection against age-related symptoms of decay.
– OPCs scavenge free radicals all over the body.
– OPCs neutralize many different types of free radicals. They serve as efficient antioxidants both in fat as well as in water phases. This is where they differ from all other antioxidants, which become active either in a fatty or in an aqueous environment.
– OPCs neutralize free radicals in the body to a much greater extent than vitamin C and simultaneously enhance the effect of vitamin C.
– OPCs are also 40 to 50 times more effective than vitamin E since they fight more (different) free...