Cell protection is the third area of the Healthy Cell Concept that needs to be addressed

       Cell protection is by far the most comprehensive aspect of the Healthy Cell Concept.   It embraces the first two aspects of cell food and cell environment and expands into more specific ways in which we can develop and maintain a healthy mind and body.   Cell protection involves understanding how the body guards itself against attack from both external and internal agents that would seek to create imbalance and subsequent disease.


       In recent years, there has been a great deal of research and discussion about the role of what are called free radicals and their involvement in the onset of disease.  Some authorities believe that free radicals are at the basis of all disease and the very aging process itself.  What are free radicals and what can we do to control them?

       All cells of all living things are made up of molecules which in turn are made up of atoms.  Atoms are basically made up of protons, neutrons and electrons.  Electrons operate as partners within an atom.   Often an electron will leave its partner as it orbits around the nucleus of an atom and will seek to join some other electron that has left its orbit or it will try to rob a partner from some other paired electron. This erratic behavior of electrons creates molecular instability and it is these unstable molecules that are called free radicals.       

       Single electrons, which have been abandoned by their partners, become very active in seeking another electron to replace the one that left.  As this process continues, chain reactions occur where billions of electrons are darting about seeking partners, and in the process, creating instability for billions of molecules which in turn create instability for millions of cells.  It is this instability that causes cells to break down.   When enough cell damage occurs, it results in tissue damage which can lead to organ damage. All of this can lead to sickness and degenerative disease. This is why we need to be concerned about free radical activity.

       Is all free radical activity bad?  No it is not.  Free radical activity is a normal part of all living things.  It is as responsible for the decay of the carrot left too long on your kitchen table as it is responsible for the aging and eventual death of the human organism.  Free radical activity is a necessary part of metabolism and serves many important functions in the body.  For example, our immune system will generate free radicals to use in destroying viral and bacterial organisms.  Free radicals are produced as a normal outcome of the energy making process within the mitochondria (energy making factories) of our cells.

       The key to understanding free radicals is to understand that the normal and beneficial activity of free radicals depends on the release of limited quantities of them in the right place at the right time. We have the ability to neutralize free radicals provided they are not created in excess of our body’s ability to deal with them. It is only when levels of free radicals become so great that they overwhelm the body’s ability to remove them that a threat to our health develops.

       Many things lead to free radical activity in the body.  Normal metabolic processes, involving oxidative activity, (oxygen uniting with nutrients), will produce free radicals.  Stress, chemicals in our food, water, and air supply, drugs of all kinds, rancid fats, excessive exercise, radiation, etc. will all contribute to the production of free radicals.

       Our bodies were designed to neutralize free radicals, provided we provide our bodies with the nutrients required to maintain this function.  For example, our bodies produce a variety of enzymes that focus on limiting free radical activity.  One of those enzymes is called superoxide dismutase or SOD for short.  If you’re in normal health, your body will produce around five million units of SOD per day.  If your level of nutritional intake is poor, the production of SOD will diminish.  There is also a gradual diminishing of this enzyme as we age. The very aging process itself is felt to be directly linked to uncontrolled free radical activity.

      How does SOD work?  One type of free radical that is created in our bodies in significant amounts is called the superoxide.   During normal aerobic, (with air), cellular metabolism, oxygen and nutrients from food combine to create the basic energy molecule of life called adenosine triphosphate (A.T.P.).  It is during this process that superoxide free radicals are formed.

       If these superoxides were allowed to run wild, chain reactions of free radicals would occur causing great damage to the cells of our bodies.  SOD along with another enzyme called catalase removes the superoxide by converting it to oxygen and water.  This oxygen and water is then recycled by the body and used for other purposes.

       When free radicals are allowed to get out of control, they can produce a variety of health problems.  A most common problem is inflammation.  Such inflammation often occurs in the joints and is associated with the degenerative disease known as arthritis.   Within the joints, there is a lubricant known as synovial fluid.  This fluid lubricates the joints which allow the bones to move without friction.  When free radicals occur in the synovial fluid, they cause the fluid to lose its lubricating ability by breaking down the fats in the fluid.  Loss of lubricating ability results in friction and this friction is what creates inflammation and pain.  SOD, and another enzyme called glutathione peroxidase, will protect cells from free radical damage done to fatty acids.

       In addition to these enzymes that help to control free radical activity, there are a variety of vitamins and minerals that play a very important role in this process as well.  These vitamins and minerals are collectively known as antioxidants.  Oxidation, which is a breakdown process, occurs when oxygen unites with a substance or when electrons are removed from an atom or molecule.  Therefore, oxidative activity creates free radical activity. 

       Vitamin E is a well known antioxidant that will actually sacrifice itself when confronted with a free radical in order to protect us from further damage. Vitamin E neutralizes a free radical by donating electrons to atoms to replace lost electrons.  This results in stabilization of the molecule.  Beta carotene, vitamin C, and the minerals selenium and zinc all work as antioxidants.  The mineral selenium must be present in order for the body to make the enzyme glutathione peroxidase.  Without this mineral present in the diet, this enzyme will not be formed, and we reduce our level of protection from fatty acid breakdown.

       Our number one weapon against free radical damage is to eat a wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruits.  It’s in fresh produce, and I emphasis fresh, that we get a wide variety of antioxidant nutrients.  Research shows that it is important to consume vegetables and fruits having different colors such as green, yellow, red and orange.  The color of the produce indicates different types of nutritional factors that have unique ways of supporting our health.  Dark green vegetables will provide a wide range of nutrients, including those enzymes discussed above.  Yellow and orange vegetables and fruits will supply beta carotene and a variety of the over five hundred carotenoids that have been identified.

       Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, collards, kale and brussels sprouts, contain a nutrient called sulforaphane which has the ability to activate enzymes that remove toxins from the body.   Tomatoes contain a pigment called lycopene, a carotene that acts as a very strong antioxidant.  Lycopene has been shown to prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Oxidation of LDL cholesterol is one of the main causes of plaque buildup in the arteries. 

       Lutein is a flavonoid found in brussels sprouts that acts as a strong antioxidant and is especially effective in helping to prevent macular degeneration in the eyes.  There are about 4000 known flavonoids (also called bio-flavonoid’s), many of which have antioxidant activity.   Pycnogenol, a trade name for a flavonoid complex derived from pine bark, provides good antioxidant activity.  These same flavonoids can also be derived from grape seed and red wine and are collectively known as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC's).  At Milk 'N Honey we carry an excellent OPC product from the company Terry Naturally.

       While antioxidants protect our bodies from free radical damage at the cellular level, another process called conjugation eliminates toxins from the body before they are able to create damage to the cells.  Various phytochemicals found in foods, especially fruits and vegetables, are involved in this process.  Conjugation takes place when chemical compounds that are made in the body or derived from our diet bind to toxic agents in the body, rendering them water soluble and then removing them via the urine or stool.  One such process called glucuronidation is where toxins are bound to glucuronic acid and then are eliminated from the body. Glucuronic acid is made in the body but is also found in fruits and vegetables and available as a supplement.

       An excellent source of glucaronic acid is Calcium D-Glucarate, a dietary supplement which has been shown to effectively detoxify the body of harmful substances. D-Glucarate has been shown to hinder cancer growth in animals by a gradual release of gluraro-1,4-lactone, which helps facilitate glucuronidation. D-Glucarate has been shown to inhibit the enzyme beta-glucuronidase, which allows active carcinogens and tumor promoters to damage the body. Calcium D-Glucarate is available under the brand name Solaray.

       Heavy metals such as mercury, lead and cadmium are toxic to the body and can create free radical activity.  At Milk ‘N Honey, we carry products that will reduce levels of heavy metals in the body.  One such product is Metal Magnet from Enzymatic Therapy. This product contains humic fulvic phenolic acid which has been shown to effectively remove heavy metals and yet is safe for the body.      

       If you are unable to eat a diet that regularly includes generous servings of fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables, you can obtain many of these plant nutrients (also referred to as phyto chemicals) by supplementing your diet with food concentrates.  Food concentrates are generally made by juicing various parts of plants and then dehydrating or freeze drying the juice into a powder.  It is important that any such product is processed at low temperature so that the enzymes and other sensitive nutrients are preserved.

       Examples of food concentrates that are available in the marketplace are BarleyLife, Green Magma, Kyo-Green, Chlorella, Perfect Food and Blue Green Algae. AIM International markets products called Just Carrots and Redi Beets which are powdered versions of orange and red vegetables. 

      While control of free radical activity is very important, an even more vital area of cell protection involves the immune system.  A strong immune response is vital to maintaining a healthy body.  Let us briefly examine what this system is, how it works and what it takes to keep it strong.


       The strength and health of our immune system is directly related to the strength and health of our body.  Our immune system is our protection system.  It is our personal “armed forces” to protect and shield us from the many enemies that are constantly trying to do us in.  During each day of our lives there is a war going on in and on our bodies between the “good guys” and the “bad guys”.  Our ability to maintain health is directly related to the ability of the “good guys to defeat the “bad guys” in the daily struggle for survival.  The effectiveness of the “good guys” is directly related to our genetics, diet/nutritional status, stress levels, hygiene, environment and general life style.

The innate immune system:

       Our immune response to pathogens begins with our first line of defense which is called the innate immune system.  Pathogen is a general term that describes any organism that if left unchecked, could cause us disease. Another term called antigen is any substance identified as foreign to the body that can cause an immune response.

       The innate immune system begins with our skin secreting certain acids which will destroy pathogens on contact.  After the skin, we have the mucus membranes of our respiratory and digestive tract trapping pathogens and moving them out of the body or into the stomach where strong stomach acid will quickly neutralize them.  In the small intestine and colon, various friendly bacteria, such as acidophilus and bifidus, play an important role in providing control over organisms hostile to the body.

       If these defenders fail to prevent a pathogen from making its way into the body, additional defenders of the innate immune system go into action. This army of defenders is made up of a variety of white blood cells divided into neutrophils, macrophages and lymphocytes.  Neutrophils are the first to swing into action as they swarm all over pathogens, killing them with enzymes.  If the neutrophils can’t get the job done, next on the scene are a group of large white cells called macrophages.  Like  microscopic “pac men,” macrophages have the ability to gobble up pathogens, and clean up the debris left by the neutrophils activity.

       If pathogens escape the macrophages, they are next met by natural killer cells (NK cells).  These cells attack all manner of parasites, viruses, bacteria, fungi and cancer cells by releasing toxic enzymes and also releasing the chemical compound interferon that stop viruses from replicating. If these components of the innate immune system fail to get the job done, our second line of defense goes into effect which is the adaptive immune system.

Adaptive immune system (aka acquired immune system):

       Our second line of defense is the acquired or adaptive immune system.  When pathogens such as bacterium or viruses survive the attack of our innate immune system, the adaptive immune system gets involved by responding to antigens.  Pathogenic organisms have molecules on their surface recognized as antigens. The body responds to these antigens by producing T cells (a type of lymphocyte made in the bone marrow and matured in the thymus gland) and B cells (antibodies).

        When T lymphocytes migrate to the thymus gland they are further differentiated into effector, (cytotoxic T-cells), helper cells and suppressor cells.

       Effector cells, also known as killer lymphocytes, are able to destroy pathogens by producing cytotoxins which are poisonous to the pathogens.  Helper cells are responsible for calling up additional killer lymphocytes and antibodies when needed to complete the job.  Suppressor cells limit the activity of effector cells so that they don’t run wild.

        Under normal conditions, the human immune system will have a ratio of approximately 1.8 helper cells to each suppressor cell.  Ratios that are markedly higher or lower indicate immune malfunction.  For example, AIDS patients often have a ratio of one suppressor cell to every helper cell.  This ratio suppresses immune response because it prohibits the adequate production of killer lymphocytes and antibodies to deal with common pathogens that a non HIV infected person would have little trouble dealing with. 
       When T cells are unable to overcome particular pathogens by themselves, the helper cells call on the B lymphocytes which produce plasma cells which in turn secrete chemical agents called antibodies.  What is interesting about antibodies is that they are specifically matched to an individual pathogen and will be retained by B memory cells so that if you are exposed to the same pathogen again in the future, your body will rapidly respond with the appropriate antibody.

       Antibodies work by locking onto a pathogen and inactivating it.  The pathogen and antibody are destroyed by another chemical component of the immune system called compliment.  When the process is complete, macrophages and neutrophils return to the scene to gobble up the remains.   In addition to the thymus gland; the spleen, tonsils, appendix and lymph nodes all play an important role in the development and proliferation of lymphocytes. 

       With such an extraordinary defense system, why do we get sick and experience disease?  While the answer to that question is multifaceted, one answer is that we often compromise the effectiveness of our immune response by our life style. The immune system requires a consistent supply of nutrients in order to function at optimal level.  The effectiveness of this protection system also requires regular elimination of the wastes connected with metabolism, regular exercise, a positive mental attitude and control of stress factors.  Let’s begin by looking at stress.

       In response to stress, the adrenal glands release a group of hormones called corticosteroids.  Unrelieved stress will increase the levels of these hormones in the body which then act to depress the immune system.  These hormones are known to break down lymph tissue in the thymus gland and lymph nodes, reduce the level of T helper cells, increase the level of T suppressor cells, inhibit killer lymphocytes and reduce the activity of interferons.  Interferons are specialized proteins that inhibit the multiplication of viral organisms.

       Another source of stress to the body is contamination from heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium which are often found in our food, water and air supply.  Studies have shown these metals to suppress all aspects of immune response.  Most drugs and medications suppress normal immune function, including commonly used aspirin which promotes the loss of vitamin C through the urine and also decreases the uptake of vitamin C by the white blood cells.

       The consumption of processed and refined foods will place additional stress upon the immune response of the body.  Research shows that consumption of refined sugar will actually reduce the ability of white blood cells to destroy bacteria.  Converting to a diet rich in whole foods is a major step to achieving stronger immunity and enabling the body to better cope with stress.   It is in the consumption of whole foods that we obtain the nutrients required for adequate protection from disease.

       Carrots, spinach, broccoli, collards, kale and sweet potatoes are all a good source of beta-carotene and a variety of other carotenoids which provide protection from free radical damage. Beta-carotene converts in the body to vitamin A which has been shown to stimulate the production of T lymphocytes.

       Vitamin C, as found in a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, has been shown to stimulate the movement of neutrophils and macrophages, as well as enhance T cell formation.   Vitamin C actually transforms oxidized vitamin E, making it again available as an anti-oxidant. Bioflavonoids, which are found with vitamin C in foods, increases the uptake of vitamin C into the liver, kidneys and adrenal glands and protects vitamin C from destruction and conversion to less active forms.

       The trace mineral zinc is very important to the thymus gland.  Zinc deficiency will cause a reduction in T-cells, natural killer cells and thymic hormone.  Supplementation with zinc has been shown to increase the ability of macrophages to digest invaders and to raise the level of interleukin-2 which in turn stimulates cytotoxic T-cells to attack invaders. Zinc will also reduce levels of the toxic mineral cadmium.  Selenium is important to the production of antibodies. Like zinc, selenium is also necessary for the production of interleukin-2 which activities T-cells. Selenium will also block the effects of the toxic metal mercury. 

       Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) supplementation has been found to dramatically increase the production of the antibody IgG.  This is the most abundant antibody in the body and plays a major role in the destruction of bacterial and viral organisms.  CoQ10 is also a strong anti-oxidant and is very essential to proper function of the heart and the energy making process.

    ❏    A special note about CoQ10 and the use of statin drugs such as lovastatin, Lipitor and Mevacor.  Millions of Americans are using these drugs to lower cholesterol levels.  The mechanism by which statin drugs lower cholesterol also inhibits the biosynthesis of CoQ10 in the liver.  CoQ10 is absolutely necessary for proper function of the heart. Some doctors have observed a marked increase in heart failure, among those using statin drugs.  It even has a name, “Statin Cardiomyopathy.”   I strongly recommend that anyone taking statin drugs also take a CoQ10 supplement.

       As mentioned above, one way to insure a daily intake of the many nutrients necessary for adequate protection from disease is to supplement your diet with food concentrates.   When using such products, it’s important to insure they are processed at low heat, derive their raw materials from organic sources and provide a wide range of nutrition.  One example of this type of product is BarleyLife.   BarleyLife (formerly known as Barleygreen) is the dehydrated juice of the leaves of the barley plant along with kelp from the sea and brown rice.  This product has been shown to contain many vitamins, and minerals, amino acids for protein synthesis, hundreds of enzymes, and a variety of plant chemicals.  BarleyLife is processed at 97 degrees which is far below the temperature at which enzymes and other nutrients are destroyed.

       BarleyLife contains the enzyme nitrate reductase which is known to resolve all manner of cancer causing petroleum based nitro-compounds.  It is rich in the enzymes super-oxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase which are known to effectively neutralize oxygen free radicals.  The product contains enzymes such as glutathione peroxidase and methione reductase which protects us from cell breakdown caused by lipid oxidation and radiation.  P4D1 is an enzyme identified in BarleyLife that stimulates the body's repair of DNA in the cell nucleus.

       As you can see, BarleyLife is a good example of what a good food concentrate can do to support the nutritional requirements of the body and provide for the enhancement of immune function.  

       In addition to using food concentrates to boast overall immunity, there are a variety of herbs that are very helpful in increasing immune response.  The herbs echinacea, astragalus and goldenseal have all been shown to increase lymphocyte activity in the body.  Goldenseal, pau d’arco and garlic, are known to actually destroy pathogenic organisms.  Bee propolis, made by bees to sterilize their hives, has a similar sterilizing effect upon the body and will destroy pathogens.  A product called Wellness Formula from the company Source Naturals has all theses herbs and many other nutrients in one formula. The product Esberitox from the company Enzymatic Therapy contains the herbs echinacea, baptisia tinctoria and thuja occidentalis.  In various studies these herbs were shown to provide significant immune enhancement and is a top selling product in Germany for immune support..

       Supplementation with friendly intestinal bacteria called acidophilus and bifidus will serve to maintain the integrity of the body's first lines of defense.  Soil organisms, as found in the product Primal Defense from the company Garden Of Life, can be very helpful in establishing and maintaining a proper intestinal environment. Additional intake of vitamins A, C, E, the B complex and the minerals selenium and zinc will all help to promote stronger immune response.

       The use of homeopathic formulations has proven to be helpful in boasting immunity and helping the body to deal with disease without the negative side effects often associated with allopathic drugs.  Homeopathic’s work with natural body processes and can be very effective in dealing with a wide variety of health problems.  There are homeopathic remedies available for almost every conceivable health problem. One good example is a product called oscillococcinum (Ah-sill-o-cox-see-num), which if taken at the first sign of the flu will generally provide fast relief  from fever, chills and general aches and pains associated with the flu. 

       In the past several years, several products have appeared that have been shown to have a direct influence on enhancing the immune response of the body.  One such product is a chemical structure combining the B vitamin inositol with six phosphate/oxygen atoms to form a compound called IP6 or what is also known as phytic acid.  This compound is commonly found in grains and legumes.  Phytic acid is found in the cellular structure of the body and plays an important role in cellular functions.  Research has shown that phytic acid plays a role in controlling cell division and therefore can help to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells.  Numerous studies have shown IP6 to demonstrate an anti-tumor effect in the body.  Phytic acid also protects cellular components from oxidation and therefore acts as an anti-oxidant. Finally, IP6 has been shown to boost the activity of natural killer cells (NK cells) which play an important role in protecting the body from cellular destruction resulting from a virus attack to something as serious as cancer.

       While IP6 can be obtained by eating grains and beans, it is now available in a much more concentrated form as a derivative of rice bran in a product called Cell Forte from the nutrition company Enzymatic Therapy.  This product provides for a much greater intake of phytic acid than would be normally attainable through diet alone.  For more information on this product, you can read the book, “IP6, Natures revolutionary Cancer-Fighter,” authored by Dr. AbulKalam M.Shamsuddin.    

       Another substance that has shown considerable promise as an immune system activator and cancer fighter is beta-1,3-d-glucan, a compound derived from bakers yeast and shown to significantly increase macrophage activity. As mentioned above, the macrophage is the “big eater” of the immune system and plays a vital role defending us from pathogenic attack.  By itself, beta glucan has been shown to be a broad-spectrum anti-infective agent that can eliminate bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Beta glucan is available in supplemental form.  For more information on this substance you can read the book, “Activate Your Immune System,” by Dr. Leonid Ber.

       Another area of immunity that is being targeted with supplemental help is our ability to generate adequate levels of glutathione.  Glutathione is a small molecule made up of the three amino acids cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine. It is produced in every cell with the aid of selenium, magnesium and vitamin C.  Glutathione acts in the body as a major antioxidant and plays a crucial role in the multiplication of lymphocytes which are a major factor in the bodies overall immune response.  Glutathione is concentrated in the liver and functions as a detoxifying agent by combining with pollutants and moving them out the body through the normal avenues of elimination.  The amino acid cystine is converted in the body to the amino acid cysteine which is the major element necessary in the synthesis of glutathione. While you can take glutathione as a supplement, you can see the importance of a diet strong in the various nutrients responsible for its synthesis in the body.

       Supplementing with bovine colostrum has gained in popularity because of colostrums ability to boast immunoglobulin (antibody) levels within the body.  When a mother breast feeds her baby, the fluid that is produced in the first 24 to 48 hours after giving birth is the substance colostrum.  This pre-milk substance gives to the new born a combination of immunoglobulins and transfer factors that provides immediate protection to the baby from pathogenic attack.  Many studies have been done that show that supplementing with colostrum obtained from bovine animals can provide strong immune protection along with a variety of other health enhancing benefits. The effectiveness of a colostrum supplement depends on how it has been processed.  For more information on the benefits of colostrum, consult the book, “Colostrum, Life’s First Food,” by Dr. Daniel G Clark and Kaye Wyatt.

      Plant sterols and sterolins are chemical compounds found in a variety of foods and have been shown to activate macrophages, enhance the proliferation of cytotoxic T-cells along with cancer fighting cytokines, interleukin-2 and gamma interferon. They also enhance natural killer cell activity while at the same time lowering pro-inflammatory and immune suppressing agent interleukin-6 in the body.  Because of their anti-inflammatory effect, these compounds have been shown to be very effective in reducing the symptoms of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. A combination of sterols and sterolins can be obtained in supplemental form in a product called Moducare Sterinol.

The Health Cell Concept: Part Four