Although it may remain unnoticed until we actually get sick, our body is fighting an internal battle against its environment every minute of every day. At birth just after we leave the protection of our mother’s womb, we have to fend for ourselves right away. Fortunately, we are genetically endowed with natural defense systems to protect ourselves.
Our two main physiological defense systems are:
- Our immune system, and
- Our antioxidative system.
Our environment confronts us with two different kinds of invaders:
- Living organisms, and
- Oxidative molecules or the factors that generate them.
Our immune system fights the living organisms present in our environment such as bacteria, viruses or other pathogens that enter our body through the nose, mouth or skin. But when this defense is overwhelmed, infectious diseases appear.
Sitting in confined spaces such as airplanes, eating food contaminated by bacteria, a small cut or even a simple handshake can allow these pathogens to enter our body.
Our immune system also acts against the living cells that we produce daily and that could lead to cancer if not neutralized.
The immune system protects us against infectious diseases and cancers.
Our antioxidative system fights the oxidative molecules present in our environment that have entered our body (food, air or water pollution).
Our antioxidative system also acts against the oxidative molecules that we produced after exposure to radiations as well as those that are normally produced during physiological processes such as energy production, strenuous exercises or while fighting infections.
These oxidative molecules or “free radicals” are normally eradicated by our antioxidative system. However, when our antioxidative system is overwhelmed, the excessive free radicals are not being destroyed and they attack the body leading to damaging process called “oxidative stress”.
The oxidative stress is an important factor in many degenerative or chronic diseases such as cataract, AIDS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, liver and gastric chronic diseases, cardiovascular diseases and more.
Living in a highly polluted area, unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol, sun overexposure, high occupational stress, exercising too much: all this leads to the production of too many free radicals in our body and induces oxidative stress.
The antioxidative system, by eradicating free radicals, protects us against the oxidative stress and the diseases it causes.
Unfortunately, these two defense systems weaken with age. As a consequence, we become increasingly subject to high oxidative stress and more prone to infection and cancer. The key to avoiding all this is to find solutions that can support our natural defenses.