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He loves it's Paris Hilton and my new podcast, this is Paris is out.
Now, just in the past like week, I've been talking to so many of my friends and just fun and interesting and hilarious and really cool people that want to be on the show.
I've seen the guest list of people coming on this podcast. Oh, my gosh, I could not get these people. So I'm really excited that on this podcast with you, because this is going to be an insane run.
Listen to this is Paris on the I Heart radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Welcome to Stuff You Should Know. A production of I Heart Radio. Hey, and welcome to the podcast, I'm Josh and Chuck, and there's Jerry, and we're all looking vibrant and healthy and just so alive and sexy and that makes the stuff you should know. Jerry's coat is shiny. It is. She's got that high protein glow glow. Do you remember that?
And, you know, we give our dogs the this salmon juice that comes in a squirt bottle. Well, it's like that, you know, like salmon skin oil. Mm hmm. And that makes her coat shiny. And it smells like salmon skin, which I love.
That's cool. You mean straight up cooks salmon with the skin on for Momoh. Like that's what she has is cooked food for ten years. Yeah.
I mean, I love salmon skin. It's the best thing ever.
It's so good. I just love love like raw salmon. Chuck, I like that too.
I like it's smoked too much. Sure. Sure. What else. Injectable salmon. Stick it in my neck.
You go you end up with kind of like a Requiem for a dream thing going on.
That's right. But, you know, this all dovetails in antioxidants.
I think it does, because I think if you eat a lot of raw salmon, especially good stuff, you know, nothing to eat, grown in a toxic sewage dump, you're going to live a really, really long time. And we've known it for a very long time, that if you eat healthy food, you're probably going to age a lot better or a lot more.
You're going to stay a lot healthier as you age than, say, you would if you just ate junk food the whole time.
It seems like a no brainer. But along the way, a lot of people have stopped to ask exactly why that might be right. And we should say, shout out to our book, which has an entire chapter, Chapter eight on aging. It's called Aging Colon. Do we got.
And it's a pretty good one if I do say so.
Yeah, I think the first line of that chapter says avoid suer salmon.
That's precisely right. I mean, that's just some of the best advice anyone could ever give anybody. It's a T-shirt.
So a lot of people, like I was saying, have stopped and asked like, why? Why, you know, why would food help you? And obviously we need food for fuel. But it turns out that especially in the 90s, a lot of food kind of hit the scene.
Well, the food was already there, but they were promoted a different way, thanks to some some recent findings that decided that foods that are high in antioxidants would help you age a lot better, possibly prolong your life and prevent certain kinds of Age-Related diseases, everything from cancer to neuro degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, just from eating the food you ate. And it all seemed to have something to do with those antioxidants. And that concept took off like a rocket.
And it's still around today, actually. Yeah.
And this is when listeners are saying, oh, God, our Josh and Chuck going to tell us now that science's antioxidants aren't good, too.
Right. And we. Well, let's just hang onto that. You'll find out by the end of the episode. Yeah. That's what people stick around. That's the big reveal. Let's give them some McGoverns, Chuck.
Uh, yeah, well, the the point of the whole intro here, though, is that it was a big marketing blitz. Everything from blueberries to kale.
I mean, good Lord, we had kale rammed down our throats, like figuratively and literally for the past decade, plus vitamins, multivitamins, vitamin E, vitamin C, beta carotene, just all of these super foods. Green tea, of course, which we talked about. Yeah. And we're not saying these things aren't good for you. These are all great, great things to eat. But they were being touted as being high in antioxidants and it will help you age and it will help you combat something that everyone just heard the words free radicals in.
And consumers said, well, I don't like the sound of those. Yeah, exactly. Let's kill them even though we don't understand them. Right.
Someone literally shoved kale down your throat once. Yeah, we've never gone to that restaurant, no kale qof kale, me crazy. That explains a lot.
Yeah, it's I mean, Cale's fine, but kale chips don't eat more than like 10 of them or you'll get sick to your stomach.
I mean, so the the you hit upon this whole point. It's not so much the antioxidants are good for you. It's that free radicals are bad for you. That was the premise of this whole thing in the 90s. And this idea of free radicals is rooted in some really deep science and had a lot of scientific backing for a really long time. And I guess to kind of to get a little bit of this out there, like Science Way overshot itself.
There was a really good, sensible hypothesis in the scientific community, ran with it, and then they started doing studies. And it wasn't entirely just the scientific community. It was largely those same marketers who were making money off these super foods, you know, that they could slap a label on there. Now, it just got overhyped before before the data was fully in. And my for my money, though, like once the data started coming in, it got even more interesting.
But let's just go back to the beginning of all this, because like I was saying, free radicals form the basis for this whole thing. And there's this whole idea that it's called the free radical theory of ageing. And it turns out that the guy who came up with this was an M.D., but he became he became interested in all of this when he was a biochemist working for Shell Oil, developing things like pesticide strips, the no pest strip, very famous kind of pesticides strip of the United States was developed by this guy named Dr.
Denham Harmon back in the 50s and also in the 50s.
He came up with that free radical theory of aging. Yeah.
So he was working at Shell. And one of the things that he was doing at the time was working on chemical additives that would you know, they found out that sulfur and phosphorous were getting spoiled. These compounds were breaking down in the oil and they were really degrading over time because of free radical chain reactions. And they learned back then, and this is pretty amazing for the mid 1950s, that there was something called free radicals, these reactive particles that would take electrons from other atoms.
And then those atoms would then say, well, wait a minute, I'm I'm out of whack now. I want to steal some electrons to get back in balance again. So it started this chain reaction where each neighbor was getting their electrons stolen. And in the case of oil, this sulfur and phosphorus would just continue to break down until it was just gross. It was basically worthless. So he's studying this stuff. He reads an article in the Ladies Home Journal called Tomorrow You May Be Younger.
And he was like, wait a minute. And he was like, I'm studying these free radicals. It's breaking down oil. We have cells in our body. We know that, that the atomic bomb and x rays and all that kind of radiation really increases the free radicals in your body. And you should see somebody after an atomic bomb and he put two and two together and he was like, this is it. This is why we're aging. It's all because these free radicals.
Yeah. That the damage that they do builds up over time.
And once you reach a certain point that your expiration date, but then along the way your systems start breaking down before the first catastrophic one fails completely say like your heart giving out and that is aging everything from, you know, lose saggy skin to a build up of plaque in your in your arteries are your hardening of your arteries that all of this is an accumulation of the damage done by these free radicals, which are, again, just simply a particle that has an unpaired electron so it can take someone else's electron or it can donate that electron.
But either way, it makes things that are normally stable, like the the lining of cells that give cells their structure unstable and bad things can happen to that.
So, Doctor, Dr. Harmon basically figured out that he had he had stumbled upon the the reason that we age and die. And when you do something like that, you can take steps to mitigate it. And this kicked off at the very beginning. The free radical theory of aging then took a few decades for people to pick up on it, though it wasn't like an immediate thing that took off.
Yeah, he was like, I'm going to get so rich on this. All right. Eventually he kept checking his watch.
So maybe we should go do a little biology class primer for everyone to make it a little more understandable. It's really kind of simple stuff. But if you remember, back in biology class, you probably remember learning about the Krebs cycle Capital Caribs. And so so we vote, jeez, here we go, cellular respiration and the whole thing with respiration in the cells is the whole point is to turn glucose and energy and that's pretty easy. We all understand that.
We turn that sugar into working energy for the body. It's our metabolism at work. And this Krebs cycle is that metabolic process of doing so, of turning those glucose molecules into something called adenosine triphosphate ATP, which is like the fuel for the cells.
Right. The thing is, is during this Krebs cycle, one of the one of the byproducts or one of the products of it, I guess, is free radicals, which is put a pin in that because it's important your body, when it undertakes its most important process, which is cellular respiration, it produces free radicals.
Right. The problem is, while some of these free radicals are put to use, others just kind of get away. They escape and they start wandering around the body. And when they get away and they're outside of the context that they're there, I guess meant to be used for, that's when they start to do some real damage.
Yeah, that's when they go to other molecules like oxygen, say, hey, let me in. Oxygen and oxygen is like, sure, they know I'm down to party. And all of a sudden you have an oxygen molecule that has an extra electron that's unpaired. It's called the superoxide. That sounds like it would be awesome.
Yeah, like superoxide sounds like a positive word, but it's not it's clear it would get your clothes just so, so white, you know. That's right. And there are other superoxide hydrogen peroxide is one. And these are all collectively known as reactive oxygen species because they're they're reacting, they're destabilized. And like we said before there, they want to be whole again and they want to be stable. So they just start robbing electrons from their neighbor. And again, you have the same chain reaction and that's basically free radicals that work in the body.
Right. And so, like, just to kind of put this give a human face to this whole thing, if you have a reactive oxygen species, they they respond indiscriminately to whatever cell they come up against. It doesn't matter to them. There's not one particular type that that they like to take electrons from or donate electrons to destabilize whatever. And so if they come across something like fatty acid molecule that helps create structure for a cell, it over time, if it sets off a chain reaction, it can weaken that cell.
And when the cell wall is weak, the permeability is affected, which means that all sorts of functions within the cell can be impacted in the cell, can not only no longer function and maybe decay and die, but it might also produce some bad jams before it dies and screw things up. So the proteins that it's meant to do are still kind of trying to carry out their function, but they're not doing it correctly. And so maybe they misfold and then you've got a whole other set of problems on your hands.
It's just a it's a it's not good when a free radical, especially a reactive oxygen species, gets loose. The problem is, is they get loose like constantly. There's a constant barrage of free radicals going through your body. And Chuka have to say after researching this, during researching this, I now can feel them.
I can hear them reacting throughout my body. And I didn't sleep at all last night and I probably will never sleep again.
All right. Well, let's I think we should take a break. I'm going to calm you down a little bit. Oh, that was a nice primer. And I need to plug in my laptop. So it's a perfect time to take a bus.
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Let's start with Joshua. Stuff you should. All right, so we're back and Chuck, I am ashamed that we did not give a huge shout out to Dave Ru's for helping us out with this one.
Boy, this is a good one. Fine example of the crew's work because, I mean, he did a great job, didn't it?
So I could understand it. He there was only one part that I needed to go to a kid's science Web site, and it was for the Krebs cycle. And I didn't learn anything that I didn't already know from that data.
Did you remember the Krebs cycle from elementary school or high school? Yeah, I didn't learn much about it, but I'm always reminded of the adventures of Pete and Pete because there was a company that had Krib in the name and it always for some reason, I always associate the Krebs cycle with Pete and Pete.
And we would not be elementary school, though. Probably high school. No, I don't know.
I could see it in late elementary. Yeah, middle school with middle. I didn't go to middle school though. You skipped right over. Boy genius. No, we just didn't have it then it was one three seven eight through 12 until.
Oh yeah. You went to that experimental school with experimental. They just they introduced middle school kind of in the middle of my high school. So, yeah.
I have to say, though, when you put together all of your anecdotes from school, it sounds a lot like an experimental school that you went to.
They just didn't tell you that.
But I think I said this before. The result of that was I was the my class was the youngest class in the school in the eighth, ninth and tenth grade. There was nobody below us just kept peeling off grades to go to the middle school right behind us.
Oh, that's that's interesting. Wow. So they really carved out the middle there, huh? Literally, they carved out middle school.
And finally, by the time I was a junior, there was a sophomore class behind me and we beat them up so hard. Yeah.
Because you were all really just a class of super warrior sleeper assassin. Yeah.
Super bullies. And we just couldn't wait to beat up kids younger than us. Not true. That's a very serious thing, by the way. Of course, I never beat anybody.
You're talking like a guy who grew up in the 80s, not a person of the twenty 20s. That's right. Uh oh.
We're at antioxidants. This is where antioxidants come in to play the wonder thing.
Yeah, because it would make sense that if your body's producing billions and billions of free radicals every second that are getting loose and wreaking havoc, it would have some way to alleviate this. And as you just said, antioxidants.
Yeah, like the body has these the body produces these on their own. You don't have to eat. I mean, blueberries are great. You should eat blueberries and kale, but you don't have to eat that stuff to get them. They just supply you with extra. We produce two main ones, uric acid and glutathione, and they don't actually wipe out free radicals, but they neutralize free radicals.
Because earlier you said you can you can take and you can actually give an electron. And that's what these antioxidants do, is they they walk up and they're like, hey, hey, hey, man, chill out. You don't need to go stealing electrons have one of mine.
It's like a hippie putting a daisy in the barrel of a rifle held by the National Guard. Exactly. You know, totally so. So that would be oxidative. The other thing taking in unpaired electron, that's reductive. So the whole process, the whole concept of a free radical being able to do that is called redox reductive oxidative. If just, you know, if you want to like score some points at your next biochem party, throw Redox out there.
By the way, that ref you made was very ironic. Now that I think about it. Which one? The hippy one. Because the hippie would not want to neutralize the free radical. They are free radicals. Oh man.
Mind blown, melted into my brain. I'm like that. I feel like the guy on the poster that says stoned again, you know what I mean?
I just melted under the table. So like I said, vitamins, good superfoods, all these things can really help out our own antioxidant production in our body and help protect, you know, all these proteins and lipids and DNA and RNA basically putting those daisies and all those rifles as fast as they can. Right, exactly.
So it is a good thing. It is beneficial when you eat those blueberries or in just the pure cocoa, however you ingest it like it does have that effect because you're introducing these antioxidants to your body and there are health benefits to it. The thing is, is you can eat blueberries till you yourself are blue, like the poor girl from Willy Wonka.
We just watch that. Yeah. Which one? The new one or the old one? No, like a few days ago we introduced my daughter to the Gene Wilder version. And I got to say he's great, but he's not very good. Oh, really, I really don't know, man, I'm going to take heat for this, but it's kind of a garbage movie except for Gene Wilder. I don't. Wow. Yeah. When was the last time he saw it?
Like, within the last year, too. All right. You know, you might like it. I'm not joking. I just I didn't. I thought it did not age. Well, I appreciate you not.
Yuck, my yum. Thank you. I have to say, I've actually somewhat come around on the remake. The first time I saw it, I broke the TV. I thought I was so disappointed with it. But it it actually has somehow gotten slightly better. I'm not sure if it changed somehow or I did. I'm assuming it changed.
I'll have to check it out. Yeah. Just don't hold me to it if you don't like it, cause I will not be at all surprised. Okay. But anyway, you can eat blueberries till you become Beanca. Blueberry I think was Violet I think. Yeah. One of those two.
And you're probably not going to neutralize all of those free radicals in your body.
And so when an imbalance occurs between the number of free radicals floating around causing havoc and the number of of antioxidants coming in and neutralizing them, you have what's called oxidative stress.
And again, this is what Dr. Harmon hypothesized was the basis for aging, that over time, all this oxidative stress is no longer able to be repaired.
There's just too many too much damage to your systems over time. And then slowly but surely, the clock starts to wind down and you fall over in the middle of the grocery store, ironically, buying blueberries.
Yes. So Harmon publishes a paper in 1956 called Aging a Colon, a theory based on free, radical and radiation chemistry. And this is where he kind of lays it all out there. And this this idea that he did, he hit upon and he said, you know, we got to do we got to ingest more of these antioxidants. He said, I've done some studies on some mice. He said they got a little moderate dose of antioxidants and they live longer.
So that proves everything. Right. And it didn't you know, it was 1956. It wasn't like I think you mentioned earlier, it wasn't didn't make the biggest splash at first. No, it actually took weirdly, it kind of took decades are not weirdly. I guess it sort of makes sense when the electron microscope or the electron scanner was introduced in the eighties, they could actually see this stuff happening. And they said, wait a minute, these free radicals are stealing electrons, they're bad and these antioxidants are sticking daisies in their rifles.
And that's good. And so it got a little more traction. And then in the 90s, they did a very big study that said, hey, if you're eating, if you're not eating a bunch of fruits and vegetables and you're not getting those vitamin C any, you have a higher risk of getting cancer, memory loss, bone breakage, sagging skin like just aging and all the wrong ways.
Exactly. And so the implication was, well, then take as much vitamin C and vitamin D, you can possibly back into your American way.
And as a matter of fact, Dr. Harmon, who seems to have been a pretty good guy from all accounts that I came across. Yeah, he took a lot of vitamin C and E every day. I mean, hundreds of hundreds of times the recommended daily allowance, which in and of itself is kind of an issue worth discussing. Sure. And its own thing. But he also jog two miles a day, which, as we'll see, is very important.
And he lived to age 98. And apparently he said at some point it's important that you accept a few that you're going to die, we're all going to die. But if you work at it a little bit, you might just make it to one hundred. And he came awfully close. So a lot of people made a lot of a lot of hay about the fact that, you know, he took a lot of vitamin C every day and he still, you know, he almost made it to one hundred.
And he was he was very much alive. I mean, this was he died in 2014. So when this really finally hit in the 90s and everybody was like, this is it. This is absolutely we have aging figured out and we now know what to do with it or do about it. He was around to be kind of fed it and he was, I believe, nominated for the Nobel Prize six times. He never won. But just being nominated once, I mean, I would love that.
I'm not saying that anybody should go out and do that necessarily. But if you if you did, I would just think it was great six times. I can't even imagine.
Well, I think after if they ever create a Nobel Prize for podcasting, we'll get it after Roman Mars and after Care and in Georgia and after IRA Glass and after Terry Gross. Terry Gross, of course. And wait, wait, don't tell me all of NPR will get theirs. Right, then Georgia and and then Roman Mars, then Marc Maron, then Jesse Thorn, then us, though I could see. They don't want you to know, slipping in there ahead of us as our own colleagues.
Yeah, I'll go. I'll cut them. We got a long line ahead of us, Chuck. Let's just keep doing our thing and see what happens, OK? That's right. So in the 90s, it was such a big deal. In the early 90s, the National Institute on Aging in the USDA got together and they said, hey, you know what people love is USA Today style food rating scale graphics. So let's let's put one of those together.
We'll call it the oxygen radical absorbents capacity.
No one's going to know what the ORAC is, at least at least they stopped short of calling it Oracle. I give them credit for.
Yeah, that's true. They go look for an L.A.. Yeah. Like life enabler or something. Exactly.
And then they, you know, they put this out and it was basically kind of everything. We saw it in marketing. It was, it was the blueberries and the kale and the cocoa and all that stuff. And and, you know, like we said, marketing, they love that stuff because that means they can sell things to people, packaged foods as healthy. Yeah. And like this thing actually just said, like, here's how great cocoa is, but it's great.
Cocoa is red wine. Resveratrol is even better. And so, like, it was very helpful, especially at the time, because people were, you know, into into health food for years before that. The 80s was a huge, huge boon for health food.
And this seems like the just the predictable legacy of that.
You know, like now now we've got even greater science and we can tell you what foods are even better at prolonging your life than, you know, just your stupid bran muffin that helps you poop. Go back to the 80s, your caveman lawyer. You know, this is like real science where we're saying this food is a superfood. And here's how much of a superfood it is. That's what the ORAC did.
Yeah, but at some point I think someone stopped and said, well, listen, we need to think about this a little bit more. And that's what I love about science. Like something that seemed really settled wasn't good enough for somebody at some point, you know. Yeah.
And they said, let's start poking around this again, because we really still don't understand it fully, because if your body is producing free radicals, like the body doesn't usually just produce something that is so damaging that it's literally killing its its cells. So let's kind of poke around and see what the deal is with with these free radicals.
And yeah, I guess some of the other logical answer is, well God decreed it that way.
So this is why we. That's the logical answer. Sure. Just run out of something like you just stop at some point.
But like you said, some people said, no, no, no, there's got to be there's got to be some some other thing going on here. It's and it turns out it's astounding how close humans can come to a mark and then just completely misinterpret it, you know what I'm saying?
Yeah. And that seems like something that happened here not completely misinterpreted because there's plenty of stuff that Dr. Harmon supposed or that was the basis of his supposition. That's still true.
But I mean, I guess I haven't quite put my finger on what's riveting about this. But it's still to this day, like I've known about this for years and it's still this day, I just find it so interesting. But the upshot was when people started looking into free radicals, so antioxidants neutralizing free radicals, that's pretty set. Like there's not a lot of question about that. But just put a pin in that for later. Right.
But free radicals themselves were portrayed as the vill like that's it. That's what's killing you. These are the villains in all of our lives. They're the reason for aging. They're the reason for disease. They're the reasons you will die are free radicals. And somebody somewhere along the way said, well, let me take another look at it. And they found, oh, wait a minute, these are actually super useful in a lot of different ways.
And what the the the change in paradigm that came from all of this is that free radicals, depending on the context where they are, the time that they exist, like their life span, a bunch of different factors, they're either very destructive or the body can't exist or move forward without them.
Yeah, and a lot of these benefits, I mean, they're all kinds of benefits, but a lot of them are based around the immune system, like hydrogen peroxide. It's a free radical. And it you know, some immune cells need a little help from hydrogen peroxide to help destroy these pathogens coming to our body. Right. Some of the I think and well, hydrogen peroxide, again, it can also signal molecules that draw immune cells to the site of an injury.
So we're talking like. If you're a smoker or something, it can be it can actually help attract immune cells to help stave off cell damage because of that smoking. It's a big it can be a signaler, right?
Hydrogen peroxide is also again, it's a free radical. That's actually why they say they no longer recommend using it to debride wounds or clean a wound or swish it around in your mouth. It actually it's a free radical that will damage whatever cells it comes in contact with. You don't want to use hydrogen peroxide, but the thyroid gland produces it's part of producing thyroid hormone like it needs. It's part of that process, just like it's part of the Krebs cycle to produce energy.
I saw another one. I didn't see the name in the study, but there was a free radical that was linked to stronger contractions of cells in the cardiac tissue.
So it gave you a stronger heartbeat. They figured out that when they removed this, the heartbeat still. But it wasn't it wasn't as forceful or strong a contraction.
There's just a bunch of different things that different free radicals do in the body, like they clearly have a defined role, depending on the context. Yeah.
And the other thing, we'll take a break here in a sec. But the other thing we should mention to you is the exercise paradox, which is, you know, we know exercise is really good for you, but we also learned that exercise really increases your free radical level. So that was just another sort of notch or chink in the armor, I guess, where there were like, hey, wait a minute, if you're doing something really good for your body, is producing is extra free radicals, they got to be good for something.
Right. So that's why, you know, people looked into it and learned all of these benefits. So I think we'll take a break now and we will come back with some pretty interesting evidence on why they might have had it all backwards.
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And let's start with Joshua Job staff, you should. All righty, so evidence that it was backwards, they started doing some studies, they started engineering organisms with really, really high levels of free radicals or antioxidants and just sort of looking at what happened in terms of lifespan. And, of course, they thought, well, listen, if you got a lot of free radicals, you're going to you're going to die a lot younger. It's going to be so painful and it's going to be really bad.
And if you have really high antioxidant levels, are we going to engineer all this bioengineer? It you're going to live a lot longer. And they found the opposite was true, which was it? Like shook the medical community to its very core.
Yeah. So there was a type of roundworm that was genetically engineered to produce lots of superoxide way more than your average roundworm. And you would expect, since super oxides are a reactive oxygen species, one of the most damaging types of free radicals, that those roundworms would just basically be born, you know, shout, why? Why was I born and then die? And that would basically be the lifespan of it. And that's not what happened at all.
As a matter of fact, not only did they live, they didn't die prematurely. They actually lived 32 percent longer than roundworms that hadn't been tinkered with genetically. Let's create longer, more free radicals, longer lifespan in this roundworm. And that definitely got their boats spinning in the lab.
Yeah. And they also said, well, what about the other ones that were pumped full of antioxidants? They died faster and they like what is going on, like is someone switching out our worms here?
And they all looked at the one guy who did refuse to wear a bowtie. He's like, why is everyone looking at me? Like, my neckties are like my clip-on necktie just fine.
They accentuate my genitalia. But don't you remember there is a line from Stayton, Maine, where this doctor wearing a bow tie. Oh, my gosh. Says Never trust the person with the bow tie because the tie is meant to accentuate your genitals.
I don't remember that line. I love that movie. Yeah, they're my favorite.
My favorite part of that movie is when Alec Baldwin is out on the date with Julia Stiles and drunk and crashes his car and then he just gets out of the car and kind of wanders off and goes.
So that happened in the movie was great. He's got that great. Last line, too, is like, well, beats working. Yeah. Beats Working is a great movie. Maybe the best movie about the film industry.
Yeah. All right. So they said roundworms are one thing we need to look at mice. So they bioengineered 18 different strains of mice, again, some with really high levels of antioxidants, others very low levels. They track these. They publish this is over like an eight year period. And one of the scientists that was talking about the results was like he even Khursheed he did. I watch those GHD lifespan curves. There was not an inch of difference between them.
And basically it was there was just no no difference in lifespan. He couldn't find any.
No, there was like this guy worked for eight years breeding just different strains, genetic strains of mice, and there was no difference. So like all this data starts coming in, that one was twenty eight to 2000 or 2001 to 2009, I think. And this data starts to accumulate there.
Like you hear about the roundworms. Yeah. Did you hear about the eighteen strains of mice? And you said, yeah, it's crazy. That guy Curt like as the stuff started to compile, people are like this doesn't make any sense whatsoever.
I guess someone else threw out the naked mole rat from the naked mole rat to which apparently produces way more naturally produces way more free radicals than your average rat or mice mouse. I'm sorry. And they they typically have a lifespan that's about eight times longer in the wild than Wild Mouse does, which again, doesn't make any sense. So all this stuff starts coming in.
And then finally, people like, well, wait a minute, there is a lot of people who are taking lots of antioxidant supplements right now because I don't think we really kind of like highlighted this yet.
Like in in conjunction with those superfoods in the USDA promoting its Orrock chart, supplements blew up, especially supplements that were proven antioxidants. People said if you if you get a lot of vitamin C from blueberries, what if I just took, like, fistfuls of of like isolated vitamin C?
If I just took tons of vitamin C itself and just got rid of the blueberries. And a lot a lot of Americans were doing that, taking lots of supplements that were full of antioxidants. And now all of a sudden people are like, oh, maybe we should look at how humans are doing with all this. And that's when. That's when it got kind of scary all of a sudden, actually. Yeah, I mean, like you said, they had this robust population so they could do these long term human clinical trials and all these studies started pouring in.
That said, people who were taking all these multivitamins are not living longer than the placebo group and sometimes even have a greater chance of dying from things like cancer or heart disease and these things that they're supposed to be protecting against by taking all these multivitamins.
Yeah, the exact opposite of what everybody thought.
Right. But here's the catch they found out is when they started to dig a little deeper. In fact, they did one study in 1996 of 18000 men and women.
They they found out that it was way worse in people that already had something going on, like twenty eight percent more lung cancer, 17 percent more deaths in a group that was given beta carotene and retinol compared with people who didn't get them.
But when they looked, they found out that, oh, but some of these people, like the highest rates, were among people who were smokers or who had been exposed to asbestos. And they were like, wait a minute. In fact, they even called off a study in Finland because there were so many people getting in the antioxidant group. A lot of these people were smokers. They were getting diagnosed with lung cancer. So these like we got to cancel this thing and really see what's going on here.
Yeah, and it wasn't it doesn't from what I can tell, it wasn't just like they were like, OK, we don't know what's going on. So we need to take a breather until we figure it out. I get the impression that they were scared that they were actually giving people lung cancer by giving high doses of beta carotene to the smokers totally. And that they had to cancel the study as a result. And that that happened in more than more than just one place, particularly, it seemed like combining high doses of beta carotene, a very potent antioxidant that's found naturally in things like carrots with people who smoke an environmental toxin that produces lots and lots of free radicals, especially in the lungs, was actually seeming to cause lung cancer, trigger lung cancer in people.
So it was a really scary eye opening, mind boggling moment or not moment, but just a course of years over the I guess probably the course of a decade when this stuff really started to come back that really made people rethink whether we should be taking antioxidant supplements or not.
Yeah. And rethink in a big way. Like and we should point out, like not every single study had a result that was this bad, but the best they were inconclusive. So a lot of these journals had to walk back a lot of stuff. In 2007, the Journal of American Medical Association said, you know, we did these 68 clinical trials and antioxidant supplements do not reduce the risk of death. I'm sorry. We've been saying that for a while.
Right. The American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association now say don't even take these supplements unless a doctor says, like, you have a vitamin deficiency and you need to and you need this one specific supplement, not a bunch of them.
And that Orwick, the poor Oracle in that website that that USA Today graphic just got taken down altogether. Yeah.
And they deleted the data with it, too, which I personally take issue with.
Yeah, I agree. But that just kind of goes to show you. And that's 2011 that happened. But that goes to show you just how sweeping the backlash was hanging onto the data, though, like park it on her MySpace page or something.
Sure. Sure. So, yeah, you know, Justin Timberlake was a big investor in the second round of MySpace. I don't think it went anywhere, though. Was there a second round?
They tried to make a second round, but it didn't look recently.
I want to say within the last seven, eight years. Oh, wow. And I feel like he's sunk like a hundred million dollars or some crazy amount into that to try to to try to, like, kick started again.
And it just did not happen. The people had spoken, you know what I mean? But there is a huge, huge backlash to antioxidants. But here's the thing, and this is really important, and I will go over it again in a second. But I just really want to point this out. What they focused on, what seemed to be the problem was not antioxidants themselves was not eating a diet rich in antioxidant foods, a very colorful diet filled with all the different kinds of nutrients that you get from that stuff.
That doesn't seem to be the issue, which is why I don't understand why the USDA took down that site. What seemed to be the issue was taking enormous amounts on a daily basis of antioxidant supplements, isolated, derived supplements that were high doses of antioxidants. But even still, we haven't quite reached the point where we understand why that might be the case. And finally, we kind of get to that because it's totally counterintuitive. Why are we taking more antioxidants to balance out our.
Oxidative stress in your body actually make you likelier to die from the very stuff that you're taking supplements to prevent.
Why, Chuck? Why?
Yeah, well, I mean, it seems like, you know, you mentioned earlier that free radicals can really help out the immune system. And a lot of ways and that's kind of what they landed on, is that free radicals may not be the cause of this oxidative damage, but might be the result of it. So if you're a smoker or if you get that asbestos exposure, your body is going to produce these free radicals to signal, like we mentioned earlier, like, hey, something's wrong.
You need to come down here and start, you know, get to work, bring your little repair kit down here. Right. And if you're taking all this these massive levels of antioxidants, it's going to mute or muffle those the work of those free radicals. And that's why it explains the fact that people that had issues like if you were a smoker already or that asbestos exposure and you were taking all these things, it was it was kind of suppressing your immune response.
It's almost like you were taking such a high dose of these antioxidants that they came in and we're telling your body we got this even though it didn't really have it, which allowed like a tumor to say, run rampant, where it allowed for these processes of like your your arteries clogging or hardening to take place because your body thought it was covered. That's the current theory. And again, we don't want to get ahead of ourselves. If we learned any lesson from the initial round of this, it's that we need to just kind of take it all as it comes and try to figure it out.
But that seems to be the current understanding is that it's it dampens the signals that free radicals send to the immune system, which actually allows disease to take place.
It makes sense. You know, it's like it's almost like, you know, the immune system needs to be a little out of whack to know. It needs to wake up and get to work. Mm hmm. You know, so if it's not getting out of whack because antioxidants are just keeping that those electrons, you know, are locked in place or, you know, at least an even trade going on. Right, then your immune system isn't going to know what to do.
It explains the roundworms. That explains the the exercise paradox. It all kind of dovetailed very nicely.
Makes a lot of sense. Yeah. And I mean, it also makes sense. So, like, when you use radiation therapy, you're actually creating purposely free radicals that are targeting a tumor, a tumor so that those free radicals go in and break up the tumor cell and destroy the cells that make up the tumor, I should say. And that actually kind of jibes with something, a concept called for misuse, which I heard about from a guy that you, me and I have been watching videos from named Dr.
Mark Hyman. And he's like functional medicine doctor, which is basically like just kind of views the whole body together and says food is medicine kind of thing. Emilie's way into that.
Yeah, she would love that guy. I'll bet he's he's very down to earth and pretty, pretty interesting. But there's this concept called Hermès is that he talks about it's not his concept, but he he kind of punches it up a lot. But he promises the idea that you stress your body slightly so that when it repairs itself, it actually makes itself slightly stronger, which seems to be the basis of free radicals and exercise that whole exercise paradox that when you exercise, you're actually stressing your body so that when your body goes in to repair itself, you are better off than you were before.
Like you can you have a higher volume Max or VMAX? You have your muscles are stronger because they've been repaired stronger than they were when you tore them through exercise.
That's why you have a down day. But if you're like a big weight lifter, like I remember when I was a kid, like I never lifted weights, but dudes would try to get me to and they would talk about weight lifting a lot. They would be like, yeah, I mean, you've got to have that down. Those muscles repair, you know. Exactly.
That's why you also want to eat protein after you you exercise so that your body has a supply of stuff to rebuild those muscles with and make them stronger. But there's this whole idea that free radicals play roles in all of these different things from hormones, this like exercise to signalling to actually being part of the immune response that messes up cells that we don't want, like tumor cells. And so if we suppress them with high doses of antioxidant supplements, it interferes with our body's natural ability to do that rather than helping the body.
We actually seem to have been hindering it with antioxidant supplements.
Yeah, and it's kind of interesting, I think, like, even though. Even though the doctor wasn't right on the money, I think in the end it did a lot of good because I think where we landed and where we are now is you shouldn't necessarily believe anyone when they say they figured out the one thing about aging and dying and that it is a lot of different things going on in your body over a long period of time. And you can't say this is it.
I figured out the one single thing that's going to keep you young four more years and let you live longer. Yeah, there is no there's no fountain of youth.
No, no. That's the problem yet. But it does seem like oxidative stress does play a role in it. But it's certainly not the cure. It's just it's way more complicated. And that was wishful thinking to think otherwise. But it seems like where medicine is landed now is, you know, it still makes sense to reduce your exposure to things that that cause oxidative stress like cigarette smoke or asbestos or, you know, all sorts of environmental toxins.
And then to supplement your body's ability to take on free radicals by eating very healthy, plant based, although not entirely plant diet, that's full of antioxidants because that seems to be true. But it seems like extracting those antioxidants takes them out of context, that when you eat them with food, there's a bunch of other nutrients that interact with that seems to actually that's where the health benefits come from, is from food. We haven't figured out how to replicate that in just extracting the antioxidants.
Didn't do it. So eat a lot of colorful plants and you will probably be a little healthier than you would have otherwise when you age.
Yeah, and if you really want bang for your buck, eat them raw. Yeah. There you go. May not be as fun.
It depends on the plant.
Like I like to, I like to roast that cauliflower and broccoli. Yeah. Tastes so good. But if you can munch on some raw veggies that's really, really, really good for your body.
But I think there are some processes like blanching that just lightly kind of cook something that unlock a lot of those nutrients that otherwise would just pass right through your your pooper. Oh yeah, I think so, yeah. I don't think Roar's entirely the the way. I'm sorry, Rob, people, but anyway, you got anything else? I got nothing else. Well, since Chuck said that, it's time everybody for listening to me.
This is from the housing discrimination episode.
That was a good one, if I may say so. Uh, hey, guys, Chuck was talking about locking in property tax or saying you don't have to pay property tax anymore. And while it's a good idea, this is basically what California did when it enacted Prop 13 in 1978. And while the originally stated goal of stopping displaced displacement of older homeowners was a good one, it's unintended. Negative consequences are huge here in California. Your property taxes are essentially frozen when you buy a property.
But the law also allows you to pass your tax basis to your children or grandchildren. And the result is massive inequity. A very common situation here in San Francisco is to households next door to each other, similar homes, similar age and similar financial means, one of whom pays 10 times what the other does in property taxes while consuming the city services those taxes pay for. Equally, it's a regressive tax that benefits the half of the people who are lucky enough to inherit property while further burdening those trying to buy in like rent control is a good idea, but flawed in practice because the people who have it are not necessarily the people who need it.
You should mention The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein, probably one of the best books ever written on housing discrimination. And oh, I don't have that person's name. I feel bad now. Probably Richard Rothstein now writing anonymously. I guess it's just anonymous.
Sorry about that. That was that was a good one. I'm interested because I guarantee that kind of thing where somebody else would write and be like, no, no, no, that last writer had it wrong. Here's the real deal on that. Who knows? I'm interested to see. I had not heard of that before. Yeah. I mean, Emily and I sort of lightly debated that the email, um, actually, I've got it here.
It's from Eric. Oh, thanks. I'm Cal Berkeley. So Eric knows what he's talking about. Mm hmm.
But yeah, we kind of debated that a little bit, I guess. I don't know. I'm not sure how I feel about it. So I'm not going to run my mouth. Very wise, Chuck. Very wise. Um, well, thanks again, Eric. That was a very interesting email. And if you want to be like Eric and get in touch with us about something that we possibly overlooked, we want to hear about it. You can send it to Stuff podcast and I heart radio dot com.
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