Free Radicals & Oxidation



Is it really possible we can slow the aging process?  The term is used so commonly we lose the importance of its meaning. We hear it on the news, at spas, the gym, yoga classes, doctor’s offices, health food stores and in magazines and journals. But is there a simple, quick test to determine if we’re aging too quickly? The answer is yes.


While it’s true we can’t turn back the clock or chronological aging, we can improve something more important - our cell health and vitality or biological age. Here’s an example of the two forms of aging: Imagine two cars made at the same time. Over the next 30 years, one car is driven hard, kept outdoors and exposed, while the other car is driven carefully and left in a covered garage. Both cars still remain the same chronological age, but now have a different biological age in terms of paint fading, wear on the engine, etc. There are many definitions of biological aging, but we’ll define it as increased cellular oxidation or free radical stress.


What is a free radical?

Technically, it’s any atom or molecule with an unpaired electron. This is a very unstable condition, as free radicals steal electrons from innocent neighbor molecules to make up their own deficiency. When this process of free radical pathology or ‘oxidation’ (remember the faded paint on the car?) occurs in the body, it creates inflammation, damage and aging of our cells and tissues.  Many leading theories of heart disease, cancer, memory loss and pain can be related to free radicals.


It’s been said, “you’re only as old as your cells”. Factors that increase aging include:

1)     Stress:  widely known to increase cellular aging, as cortisol (a stress hormone) can cause thinning of skin, weakening of bones and fat gain to name a few (1, 2).

2)     Environmental Poisons: poor quality air and water, toxic personal care products, pesticide & herbicide exposures, heavy metals (3).

3)     Food Choices: deep-fried foods, trans fats, alcohol, blackened/smoked/BBQ meats, lack of organic produce.

4)     Toxicity: sluggish elimination of toxins from weakness in the kidneys, liver and bowel.


All these have one common result: increased free radical production and oxidized cells = Faster Aging


The good news is that our body can produce natural ‘anti-oxidants’ such as glutathione, coenzyme Q10, catalase, peroxidase and superoxide dismutase which help to combat oxidation (4). The problem is these substances are quickly used up, leaving free radicals to damage our cells and increase cellular & biological aging, which is something we don’t feel.


Some of our molecules are more vulnerable to free radical attack than others. Our cell membranes, much like the skin on a balloon, are some of the most susceptible structures (5). Our membranes are made of protein, water and various fats (lipids). In fact, the best-studied molecules of free radical attack are called lipid peroxides or oxidized fats (6). Once damaged, the fate of the cell is doomed to altered function or death unless there’s immediate intervention with antioxidants produced endogenously, diet, lifestyle, detoxification and/or supplementation.


How to Test Free Radical Activity


The OXIDATA® TEST is a quick, accurate test that takes only minutes to scientifically determine if your cells are aging too fast and need antioxidants. Are you biologically aging too fast? Don’t guess or needlessly take too many or the wrong antioxidants.  Discover what your body actually needs with an inexpensive, home test using a small sample of urine. The cost is only $30 per test plus $10 shipping, within the continental U.S. Contact us to send mail your test kit. Subject to available inventory. Some restrictions apply.

NOTE: Whether you are monitoring your free radical levels using the Oxidata test, or just want to generally slow your aging process, consider making an initial phone or Zoom consultation/appointment with Dr. Barsten. You can also check out our website article titled Anti-Aging & Renewal Protocol for clinically tested tools and advice.



1) Canalis, E, Mechanisms of glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis. Current Opinion in Rheumatology. 15(4):454-457, July 2003.

2) Fraser R, Ingram M, et al, Cortisol Effects on Body Mass, Blood Pressure, and Cholesterol in the General Population. Hypertension. 33:1364-1368. 1999.

3) Dawson R, Beal MF, et al. Excitotoxins, Aging, and Implications for Understanding Human Neurodegenerative Diseases. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. 134 (1): 1-17. September, 1995.

4) Gropper SS, Smith JL, Groff JL, Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. 4th edition, Thomson Wadsworth 2005.

5) Bralley JA, Lord RS, Laboratory Evaluations in Molecular Medicine. IAMM 2001.

6) Pizzorno JE, Murray MT, Textbook of Natural Medicine. Churchill Livingstone 2006.