The conveniences of modern living that we have all become accustomed to come with consequences. Pesticides, pharmaceuticals, gasoline, cell phones, and computers allow us to have abundant food, live longer, keep on the go, and have easy access to our world. Yet they also contribute to the toxicities that affect our health and our environment. This problem is becoming so widely recognized that there are numerous organizations springing up to provide valuable information to the public on how to minimize the negative impact of modern technology on health. One that I find particularly helpful is the Environmental Working Group.
Since environmental pollutants can cause oxidative damage to your body, it is important to make sure you have sufficient antioxidant levels. The 4th step to understanding the Organix Profile provides two very valuable markers of antioxidant status: para-hydroxyphenyllactate (HPLA) and 8-hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG).
HPLA is made when there is increased cell-turnover or growth, as is seen in the growth of tumors. It is commonly elevated in those with tumor growth and leukemia. HPLA can also be elevated in patients with hepatic cirrhosis. In broader terms, this marker can be slightly elevated in response to increased cell turnover due to damage of cells by pro-oxidants, or pollutants such as certain heavy metals, solvents, pesticides, and drugs. If your body doesn’t have ample antioxidant status to protect against these pollutants, cell damage can occur, and we see a mild rise in HPLA.
Interestingly, HPLA binds very tightly to vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, thus removing it from circulation and decreasing levels of this important protective nutrient. When HPLA is high, supplementation with vitamin C in gram quantities or to bowel tolerance is helpful in reducing damage and restoring proper levels of vitamin C. Other antioxidants such as vitamin E and lipoic acid are also helpful.
DNA is the fundamental code for our bodies since it contains the instructions needed to construct other components of cells. It is often where mutations occur that can lead to cancers. When DNA is damaged, the body produces 8-OHdG as a by-product of its repair efforts. Thus, 8-OHdG has been heavily researched as a good indicator for oxidative damage to DNA. The damage can be caused by exposure to environmental toxins, and it can also be produced when our bodies make pro-oxidants in response to chronic inflammation. Long-term inflammation and pro-oxidant activity that is not adequately quenched by anti-oxidants can lead to atherosclerosis, diabetes, and liver disease.
The very process of living and breathing produces oxidant stress, but environmental stresses and toxicity place increased demands on the body’s antioxidant mechanisms. Reducing these exogenous exposures and consuming a diet rich in anti-oxidants is important for maintaining health of our DNA, which ultimately affects our overall health. Our food supply and dietary choices do not always support good antioxidant levels, so supplementation with a broad spectrum antioxidant can be helpful to protect against the damaging effects of pro-oxidants. Plant polyphenols such as those found in colorful fruits and veggies, berries, and red wine (in moderation) are also very protective.
In a previous post, I mentioned that high levels of all of the Citric Acid Cycle intermediates could be a sign of oxidative damage to the mitochondria that can result from exposure to heavy metals. If 8-OHdG is elevated at the same time, heavy support with antioxidants and a thorough investigation of sources of heavy metal exposures is warranted.
In conclusion, these two markers on the Organix Profile are useful in determining your patient’s exposure to environmental toxins as well as his/her antioxidant status. Ideally these values should be as low as possible. Levels can be modified by lifestyle and dietary changes and by supplementation with anti-oxidants.
Come back next week when we'll take a look at Step 5 of the Organix Profile. Remember, you can always leave your comments below!