Oxidative Stress Imbalances

Oxidative stress arises when there is a marked imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and their removal by antioxidants. In reaction to mild oxidative stress, tissues often respond by producing more antioxidants; however, severe persistent oxidative stress depletes body antioxidant resources and overtakes its ability to produce more antioxidants, leading to lower antioxidant levels and injury in the tissues. ROS arise from decomposition of superoxide anions (O2-) released by a commensal intestinal microflora called Enterococcus faecalis. These anions are catalytically converted by an enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD), an innate potent anti-oxidant defense system, into hydrogen peroxide and oxygen. In excess and especially in the presence of trace elements found in diets, these superoxide anions and hydrogen peroxide can be readily converted into carcinogenic hydroxyl radicals that can cause significant damage to DNA.

The effect of certain dietary ingredients in generating excess ROS has been demonstrated by Erhardt[1]. Two different diets were administered to healthy volunteers over 12 day periods with a 1-week washout period between the two treatment periods. Diet 1 was low in fiber and high in fat & red meat, diet 2 low in fat and high in fiber. Fecal samples were collected at the end of each period and analyzed for harmful hydroxyl radicals. The results (see image below) demonstrated a 13-fold increase in hydroxyl radical formation in diet 1 and a corresponding significant increase in iron content. This hydroxyl radical increase arises from the catalytic promoted reaction of trace iron in red meat from diet 1 with superoxide anion.



Therefore the inclusion of a bioactive ingredient with the potential to neutralize or scavenge excess ROS is also an essential requirement for the formulation by helping to inhibit the release of pro-inflammatories and their resulting contribution to abdominal discomfort.


[1] Erhardt JG et al (1997). A diet rich in fat and poor in dietary fiber increases the in vitro formation of reactive oxygen species in human feces. Journal of Nutrition 127:706–709.


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