Nrf2August 03, 2015
August 3, 2015
Ever heard of Nrf? (Nuclear factor erythroid derived) I bet you thought Nerfs were some blue cartoon character, or better yet, a foam ball with which you could play office basketball. Not so. Nrf 2 is a protein that is in every tissue in your body, waiting in your cells to be activated. It has a controlling protein that limits its activity until something bad comes along to activate it. It then travels into your cell nucleus and turns on all the processes that protect your cell from damage by binding to the hARE (human Antioxidant Response Element) region of DNA. hARE is the uber regulator of all antioxidant response systems in your cell. With such activation, your cells turn on a very wide array of cell protection pathways.
This places NRF smack dab in the middle of your fundamental cell protection mechanisms. Its breakdown logically follows as being central to many illnesses. Free radicals floating around in your blood appear to be some of the strongest activators of the NRF system suggesting that oxidative stress plays a huge role in many illnesses: Metabolic syndrome, Autoimmune, inflammatory bowel, HIV, MS, epilepsy, chronic kidney disease, asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, sepsis, atherosclerosis. With that, it logically follows that raising NRF will help treat many of those illnesses.
This is not to claim that NRF is your sole cell protective mechanism. Glutathione is also critical. What is interesting is the link between the two. Each of the three genes that encode for the production of the glutathione producing enzymes are individually activated by NRF. As is the gene that turns on glutathione reductase, the enzyme that converts used glutathione back into activated glutathione. As is the gene that turns on the 8 steps to make NADH, the energy source for glutathione. This makes NRF2 and glutathione closely integrated into a system that handles “oxidative stress”.
What causes that stress? There is increasing evidence that our lifestyle of highly refined carbohydrates, made into products like flour (from any source) which is quickly digested and stimulates the production of insulin, leads to oxidative stress. Once we are overweight, our fat cells then produce showers of activating chemicals that keep it going. It’s not just being overweight that does it. We live in a sea of chemicals in our modern world, many of which contribute a small part and which, cumulatively add up to a lot of harm. Heavy metals are particularly bad players.
The $ 64 question then remains, “How do we activate Nrf2 and turn all that bad stuff off?”. Here is a partial list: the phenolic antioxidants (code for spices and herbs like turmeric, rosemary, thyme,), the gamma-delta tocotrienols, the isothionates (code word for broccoli and other kale family plants), allyl sulfides (code word for garlic and onions) , carotenoids (lycopene in particular – aka carrots and tomatoes), fish oil, fasting and exercise. Hmm. Sounds like a healthy diet. This sounds like how coffee, chocolate, turmeric, olive oil, broccoli, red hot peppers, green tea, resveratrol, garlic, blueberries, rosemary, oregano, sage all work to prevent diseases like cancer. And at last, I’ve figured out where peroxide (H202) works – it turns on Nrf2).
WWW. What will work for me? I don’t know how to measure the effects of Nrf2 activation but I believe it is real. There are pills out there touting their ability to activate Nrf2. I’ve given peroxide IV for inflammation and seen great results. I just want a test to show that it’s working. That doesn’t exist yet. Back to eating a meal packed with tomatoes, garlic, broccoli, hot peppers, turmeric and resveratrol. Sounds like curry with red wine.
- Nrf2 is the common pathway to turn on inflammation. T or F. Answer: False. That would be NFκB – another common pathway in every cell but it turns on the fire. Nrf turns it off.
- Nrf2 activation is turned off by our modern lifestyle. T or F Answer: True – particularly our consumption of refined carbohydrates.
- Fasting turns on Nrf2. T or F Answer: True
- Tomatoes and broccoli, blueberries, olive oil all turn it on? T or F Answer: True
- We don’t have a good measure to see turned on Nrf2 ? T or F Answer: True, except for how you feel when you don't have a chronic disease.