There’s a little-known enzyme in your body that packs a huge punch when it comes to keeping you healthy. Think of it as your ultimate “power-player” when it comes to removing toxic matter from your body.
The enzyme I’m referring to is superoxide dismutase, also known as SOD. Knowing about this enzyme – and how to increase your levels – could be the difference between cancer or no cancer… between staying healthy or growing old before your time.
Keep reading for the facts…
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The main reason SOD exists is to protect you from the toxic effects of the chemical superoxide, a key enemy that creates free radicals. This is important in cancer prevention, because those rogue free radicals increase your cancer risk.
But along with that, scientists continue to find a vast array of other benefits for this powerful antioxidant. We first talked about SOD back in Newsletter #92, but it’s time for an update.
The most powerful free radical
fighter in your body
You already have superoxide dismutase in your body, mainly because you already have an abundance of superoxide. Your cells actually make this free radical on their own as a byproduct of the energy-creation process.
Think of it like car exhaust: Even the most fuel-efficient car still lets off small amounts of contamination. For your body, the “contamination” is free radicals, and in this case, it’s superoxide.
Thankfully, SOD functions with the chief purpose of breaking superoxide down into harmless parts – specifically into hydrogen peroxide and oxygen. From there, your body supplies the enzyme catalase to break down the hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen.
Along with saving you from toxic levels of superoxide, SOD serves as both an anti-inflammatory agent and as your body’s most powerful antioxidant. It surpasses all the other antioxidants that come from vitamins and various food sources. As a nutrient, it’s considered 3,500 times stronger than vitamin C.
SOD has other benefits beyond cancer prevention. It helps ease the pain of stiff joints. Clinical studies show SOD helps maintain healthy blood vessels and a healthy heart. It alleviates the pain of arthritis, fibrosis, burns, and inflammatory bowel disease.
On top of that, ample amounts of SOD can increase your life span. People who live past age 90 are likely to have unusually high levels of SOD. Makes sense, when you consider that free radicals accelerate the aging process and SOD stops them in their tracks – long before they can damage your organs or other body tissues.
Arguably your body’s most crucial antioxidant
Now, remember – many of those free radicals like superoxide are byproducts of your own metabolism. They’re a sort of a waste-product that’s left over when your cells burn oxygen for energy. But you also pick up free radicals through the environment. Your body absorbs a slew of them every time you catch a whiff of somebody’s cigarette smoke or get a face full of car fumes, or any other chemical you can breathe in.
Incredibly, some experts estimate each cell in your body fends off as many as 10,000 attacks by free radicals every day, thanks to enzymes like SOD. So consider the implications of one study where mice were genetically engineered so they couldn’t make their own SOD. What happened? They died in a matter of days due to massive damage from free radicals.
That’s where – thank goodness – SOD steps in to save the day (and your body). Depending on your SOD levels, it protects your organs and tissues from any superoxide floating around in your body. Breaking superoxide down into harmless particles is known as dismutation. That’s where the name superoxide dismutase – SOD—comes from. The “ase” at the end indicates it’s an enzyme.
A study published at the beginning of this year in the Journal of Clinical Investigation showed that SOD induced cell death in non-small-cell lung cancer. Other studies show SOD plays a role in slowing tumor growth and alleviating the side effects of cancer.
Although most researchers will tell you they need more studies to be sure, there’s already abundant evidence that SOD brings powerful results when it comes to cancer prevention and treatment.
Unfortunately for most folks, SOD levels drop as you age. By the time you hit 30, your levels could be low. That makes it harder to get rid of your excess toxins, leaving you open to disease and allowing the aging process to accelerate.
How to boost your body’s SOD levels
The obvious question is how do you get more SOD in your body so you’re better protected from diseases like cancer and the problems that come with aging?
This free-radical fighter starts to develop before you’re even born. And women appear to have higher levels of SOD than men, which may explain why they live longer. You can supplement the production of SOD with smart lifestyle choices.
From a diet perspective, there’s a good chance you can boost your SOD production by simply eating whole foods and supplementing your body with vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C and copper are especially key when it comes to boosting SOD production. You can also eat green vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and wheatgrass – all have high levels of superoxide dismutase.
But if you need more SOD than your body can create – especially if you’re fending off the effects of cancer or trying to prevent it altogether – you may want to consider synthetic versions of SOD. These come in the form of creams, supplements, and even injection.
The problem with getting supplemental SOD through pills taken orally is that stomach acid destroys most of the nutrient and it never makes it to your bloodstream. Some believe certain supplements overcome this, like the medicinal mushroom chaga.
Chaga has about 10,000 to 20,000 active SOD units per gram. Proponents believe it delivers substantial SOD to the body when ingested. For more about chaga, see Issue #297.
Another approach is to eat things that help your body make more of this crucial antioxidant. Such foods contain specific molecules necessary for boosting SOD production. Consuming wheat sprout extract is one example of such a building block and has been shown to raise internal levels of SOD. Wheat sprouts do not contain gluten. Gluten is only in the grain.
Another approach is to bond SOD to a biopolymer that can be readily absorbed by the body, like the wheat component gliadin. Studies show a pairing of the two can protect the delicate SOD molecule from harsh stomach acids so it eventually makes it to your bloodstream. There’s more about this at Issue #92. Unfortunately, gliadin is not suitable for people with gluten sensitivity.
Definitely something to keep your eye on
I intend to follow the research on SOD, as it appears to be an important line of defense, not to mention a reliable one, against free radicals that lead to cancer. Right now, it looks like we’re moving past the recent dilemma where it was tough to raise your levels of this beneficial enzyme.
The bottom line is this: Raise your levels of SOD, and you’ll be better protected from cancer. You’ll also probably live longer.