September 28, 2009

The Paleo Diet Update v5, #38 – Antioxidant Supplementation: A Paleo Perspective

Filed under: Uncategorized — SL @ 7:41 am

From: Wiley Long – The Paleo Diet <>
Date: 2009/9/19  (19 Sept 2009)
Subject: The Paleo Diet Update v5, #38 – Antioxidant Supplementation: A Paleo Perspective

  • The Paleo Diet Update
    Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
    Issue: # 2009 – 38 / September 18, 2009


    Hello! Welcome to The Paleo Diet Update, where we investigate current scientific research showing how you can improve your life with the nutrition our species evolved to need.

    Thanks to Maelán Fontes and Pablo Martinez Ramirez, this update is also available in Spanish.

    In the face of alarming increases in life-threatening disease, medical research has repeatedly shown that a diet similar to what our Paleolithic ancestors ate can reduce the risk of many diseases, and bring rapid improvement in certain disease symptoms. The Paleo Diet has been shown to improve glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors. Autoimmune diseases, including arthritis and multiple sclerosis, have shown improvement in response to changing to the Paleo Diet.

    This is because the Paleo Diet balances a range of variables that can influence many diseases, and improve health in various ways. To hear what participants in the last Paleo Diet Implementation Program (that just concluded yesterday) say about how it has improved their lives, click here.

    In this issue, we take a look at how antioxidants fight the damaging effects of free radicals, and where to find the best sources of antioxidants. We'll also show you how to make fun, non-alcoholic drinks.


    Loren Cordain, Ph.D.

    In This Issue

    Alcohol-Free Drink Options
        Antioxidant Supplementation: A Paleo Perspective           by George W. Peck

    Oxidation is a chemical reaction that transfers electrons between substances. Although this is crucial for life, it can also be damaging because it produces free radicals. Generating free radicals during biochemical reactions within the human body is a necessary and normal process, which, ideally, would be compensated for by our internal antioxidant systems. Over time, plants and animals have evolved complex systems to protect cells from free radicals.

    Unfortunately, many environmental, lifestyle, and pathological situations can allow excess free radicals to accumulate. This results in oxidative stress that has been related to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases that now account for a major portion of deaths1, 2.

    Antioxidants fight the damaging effects of free radicals

    Antioxidants are compounds that hinder oxidative processes, delaying or preventing oxidative stress. By slowing or preventing oxidation of other molecules, antioxidants stop damaging effects of free radicals2.

    The systems that protect cells from free radicals use multiple types of antioxidants. These include glutathione, beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and zinc. Enzymes, such as catalase, superoxide dismutase, and various peroxidases are also used.

    For more than five decades, studies aimed at determining the causes of aging have focused on oxidative stress due to free radicals, and the connection between oxidative stress and dietary antioxidants3-6. Low levels of antioxidants, or inhibition of antioxidant enzymes can cause oxidative stress and may damage or kill cells.

    Research into how antioxidants affect disease is increasing

    The research on antioxidant biochemistry is expanding at a rapid pace. Recent publications have examined hypoxia-inducible genes that protect against free radicals7, and links between selenium-poor soils. Free radicals and male infertility have also been studied8.

    Other studies have looked at Kashin-Beck disease in central China9, antioxidant supplementation during chemotherapy for breast cancer10, and timing of black currant extract consumption11.

    Invitro studies of multiple antioxidants suggest wide antioxidant network between water- and fat-soluble antioxidant nutrients in a biological system, although more studies are needed12.

    Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables have been linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in a Swedish study13. Likewise, increased consumption of fruits and vegetables protects against stroke14. The important antioxidant properties of polyphenols15 in fruits and vegetables16, 17 will be an area to watch as science progresses.

    Dietary supplementation with antioxidants may do more harm than good

    Consumption of antioxidant supplements has become widespread. It is estimated that about one third of adults in developed countries consume antioxidant supplements18.

    The past decade has produced a large number of studies that assessed both the costs and benefits of antioxidant supplementation. Unfortunately, this research has shown that dietary supplementation with antioxidants may do more harm than good19-22.

    For example, a meta-analysis (a scientific review combining results of related research) of antioxidant studies found that supplementation with beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E did not increase lifespan23-27.

    In fact, some reviews have suggested antioxidant supplementation may increase the risk of early death. For example, a meta-analysis of supplementation with beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E suggested an increase in overall mortality among people taking supplements23.

    Surprisingly, supplementation with vitamin C has been shown to decrease training efficiency28, cancel beneficial effects of exercise on insulin sensitivity29, and delay healing after exercise30. In addition, vitamin C supplementation did not decrease free radical damage to DNA31.

    A recent meta-analysis of clinical studies that focused on vitamin E supplementation also showed increased overall mortality in those taking vitamin E26. It should be noted, however, that the importance of the antioxidant properties of vitamin E at the concentrations present in the body are not clear. It is possible that vitamin E is required in the diet for reasons unrelated to its ability to act as an antioxidant32.

    Concentrated, pure antioxidants were not part of our ancestral diet

    Our Paleolithic ancestors had no access to concentrated forms of pure antioxidants like those in modern supplements. They got all their vitamins (including antioxidants) and minerals from food they hunted or gathered, or, in the case of vitamin D, from sunlight33, 34.

    Given our present knowledge about the apparent lack of benefit from consuming antioxidants as supplements, it is probably best to get antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, especially those grown organically in healthy soils35, 36.

    The Paleo Diet is good source of antioxidants

    Fortunately, we can still get antioxidants from the foods we eat. Research shows that, aside from vitamin D, it is possible to consume a nutritionally balanced diet from contemporary foods that mimic the food groups and types available during the Paleolithic37.

    With its high consumption of fruits and vegetables, the Paleo Diet provides optimum levels of vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants. In this diet, vegetable consumption is unlimited, and fruit consumption is only limited by certain conditions, such as excess weight, insulin resistance, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease. For those who may need to limit fruits with a high sugar content, a table of fruits and sugars is available on our website.

    Many of the Paleo Diet foods supply antioxidants. Vitamin C is available in parsley, kiwi fruit, broccoli, persimmon, papaya, strawberry and citrus fruits. Asparagus, avocado, eggs, almonds, and spinach are good sources of vitamin E. Selenium can be obtained from Brazil nuts, walnuts, and lean meats. Lean meats and nuts are also good sources of zinc38.

    Liver is a good source of pre-formed vitamin A. There are plant sources of beta carotene, but not of preformed vitamin A. Recent evidence indicates that the conversion of beta carotene to vitamin A in the liver is inefficient in humans.

    The Paleo Diet, along with sun exposure and vitamin D supplementation, will optimize our health because it is our evolutionary heritage. Following the Paleo Diet, with its focus on lean meats, fruits and vegetables, along with a sensible exercise program, will go a long way toward alleviating the chronic diseases that plague our Western culture.

    Next time, we’ll take a look at current research that suggests the gut-brain connection plays an important role in IBS patients suffering from psychiatric diseases. We'll also show you how to make breakfast (without a grain-based product like cereal, a bagel, or toast) a healthy way to start the day.

              Alcohol-Free Drink Options             by Nell Stephenson
    Hosting any parties? If you’ve mastered serving exclusively Paleo foods at dinner gatherings at home, but feel daunted by only serving water to accompany the meal, then try some of the following ideas to liven things up a little.

    Planning a tropical island-esque dinner? How about a Pina Colada? Just mix 8 oz. of ice cubes and water with 6 oz. of frozen pineapple cubes, and 1 T of extra virgin coconut oil. If you want to offer it as more of a snack than a drink, throw in a scoop of egg white protein powder. For you athletes, try this as a recovery drink as well – what a nice alternative to a banana! Serve in a tall glass, and go ahead and add a little umbrella!

    Going with a lighter fare menu? One of my favorite ways to offer water is to serve it spa-style. Slice oranges, lemons, cucumber and kiwi, and put a few of each in a large, attractive glass pitcher. Fill with water and chill; not only is it refreshing and tasty, but it looks quite handsome on the table!

    Serving Mexican Food? A blended, icy citrus drink pairs well with the flavorful spiciness inherent to some of the dishes you may be serving. Thus, there’s the good old, familiar tendency to have a Margarita, of course!. Whip 8 oz. of ice cubes with water in a blender with some frozen lemon and lime slices. Serve with a small piece of lime rind and a straw. Don’t forget how important presentation is! While you won’t fool guests into thinking they’re having a Virgin Margarita, you’ll be sparing them all the sugar you find in a pre-made mix.

    Want something with a little color? Rather than serving juice (which is often quite sugary), use just a splash of juice with some sparkling water over ice (perhaps just an ounce with 8 – 10 ounces of water).

    Finally, keep in mind that an occasional glass of red wine may be consumed in keeping with the Paleo Diet, as per The Paleo Diet book. Just save it for special occasions, and you’ll enjoy it even more than if you had it all the time!

              News and Upcoming Events

    • Insulin resistance may be the primary risk factor of chronic Western diseases: The journal Medical Hypothesis published a paper titled “Permanent impairment of insulin resistance (IR) from pregnancy to adulthood: The primary basic risk factor of chronic Western diseases.” This charges that Western eating patterns permanently boost IR from intrauterine life through senescence.

    • Professor Loren Cordain will be speaking in San Diego, California: On Sept 19th, 2009, Dr. Cordain will present "Origins and Evolution of the Western Diet: Health Implications for the 21st Century" Other guest speakers include Robb Wolf (owner of NorCal Strength & Conditioning, former research biochemist, review editor for the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, co-publisher and co-founder of The Performance Menu) and John Welbourn (10 year NFL veteran, creator of CrossFit Football, owner of CrossFitBalboa, training for athletes in Orange County, CA, and co-creator of Paleo Brands). The Paleo seminar will be at the Double Tree Hotel, 10 AM – 3 PM in Mission Valley, San Diego, CA. $150 registration.

    • Low glycemic index breakfasts prevent hunger and increase fat use:  A study published in The Journal of Nutrition examined how consuming low-glycemic index carbohydrates before endurance exercise results in increased fat oxidation during exercise.

              Our Recommendations – Permanent Weight Loss Now

    • Need help losing weight? We have less than 10 spots left on our program starting September 24th. We just finished the 4th week of our current Paleo Diet Implementation Program, and participants are talking about how much better they feel:

      “I’ve been doing well, a lot more energy, and I’m down 21 lbs. I really feel a lot better.”


      Martin is one of many who have used this world-class coaching and instruction program to make permanent lifestyle changes and create better lives for themselves! To hear what participants in the last Paleo Diet Implementation Program (that just concluded yesterday) said about their experience in this coaching program, click here. You can have the same support and personal coaching in The Paleo Diet Implementation Program starting September 24th.

      These 6 weeks of teleconference instruction, coaching, and assignments help you make permanent improvements in your health and well being. We’ll give you a detailed plan of what to eat, fast and easy ways to shop and prep food, a step-by-step program that guarantees results, and you’ll get a recording of all calls to keep.

      This program is for anyone who wants to use nutrition for permanent weight loss, better mental focus, greater energy, enhanced athletic performance, and reduced risk from disease (we have a special version for autoimmune diseases).

      Here’s a typical report we get back about how the Paleo Diet helps:

      I have a lot more energy, I’ve lost weight, and somebody said I’m positively glowing. It’s working very well. Also I’m sleeping. I haven’t slept well in 25 years. Maybe that’s why I’m glowing.”


      As you can see, most are enjoying quick weight loss, like Lorie who says “I feel like I have more energy and I’m not as hungry as I was all the time.”

      In our weight loss call, Pedro explains how 9 key factors help you lose weight. Sleep is one of these because sleep affects various hormones, including ghrelin, cortisol, and growth hormone. Sun exposure is another. When ultraviolet light hits your skin, your body ultimately produces melanocortins, which function to signal your brain to stop eating. The glycemic load of foods is involved, too, because it affects your insulin response.

      There are six other factors that make losing weight on the Paleo Diet easier than most people imagine. We’re so sure it will work for you that if you’re not satisfied with your own results, you can have a full refund. Sign up today at This group will probably sell out in the next couple of days. If you are unsure about joining the program, you can join us on a free preview call at 8:30 pm Eastern on Tuesday, September 22. Click this link for the webcast or call-in number.

              Follow Up and Feedback

    In this section, we’ll share readers’ concerns and questions about nutrition and the Paleo Diet to help you better understand how to use the diet to optimize your health and fitness.

    We received the following question:

    “Can you explain the mechanism by which fruits and veggies are alkyline producing versus grains, which are acid producing?”

    Upon digestion, all foods ultimately must report to the kidneys as either acid or base. When the diet yields a net acid load (such as diets that restrict fruits and vegetables), the acid must be buffered by the alkaline stores of base in the body. Base-producing foods are fruits and vegetables, whereas grains, meat, fish, cheese, and salted processed foods are acid-producing.

    In addition to promoting bone demineralization, a net acid-producing diet also contributes to the following problems: calcium kidney stones, age-related muscle wasting, hypertension, stroke, asthma and exercise-induced asthma. The Paleo Diet recommends an appropriate balance of acidic and alkaline foods to promote health. A table is available on our website that lists the acid/base values for 114 common foods.

    Although we can't answer every question personally due to the number of letters received, we are very interested in hearing your thoughts, learning about your experiences, and understanding your questions. Many of the questions that we receive will be answered in future newsletters.

    Talk to you next week!

    To your optimum health,

    Wiley Long, M.S., Nutrition and Exercise Science



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    7. Dioum, E., Chen, R., Alexander, M., Zhang, Q., Hogg, R., Gerard, R., et al. (2009). Regulation of Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 2alpha Signaling by the Stress-Responsive Deacteylase Sirtuin 1. Science, 324, 1289-1293.

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    11. Lyall, K. A., Hurst, S. M., Cooney, J., Jensen, D., Lo, K., Hurst, R. D., et al. (2009). Short-term blackcurrant extract consumption modulates exercise-induced oxidative stress and lipopolysaccharide-stimulated inflammatory responses. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 297(1), R70-R81.

    12. Yeum, K. J., Beretta, G., Krinsky, N. I., Russell, R. M., & Aldini, G. (2009). Synergistic interactions of antioxidant nutrients in a biological model system. Nutrition, 25(7-8), 839-846.

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    37. Cordain, L. (2002). The Nutritional Characteristics of a Contemporary Diet Based Upon Paleolithic Food Groups. JANA, 5(3), 15-24. 38. USDA. (2009). Food and Nutrition Information Center. from



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