We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Gary Samuelson to learn more about the inner workings of the human cell, and particularly about Redox Signaling.
ASEA: In the simplest of terms, what is Redox Signaling?
Dr. Samuelson: Redox Signaling is the most fundamental, elaborate communication network that signals for tissues to heal themselves. At the hub of this network are the mitochondria. Every cell in our body contains mitochondria. The mitochondria in our cells produce the fuel that is used to energize the cells and in the process, they also produce reactive molecules. The reactive molecules are reductants and oxidants. The reductants pair up with our body’s natural antioxidants to protect the cell. The oxidants are used by the immune system to destroy invading organisms and help the cells communicate with each other when cells are damaged or under attack. This communication network between the cells is known as Redox Signaling.
ASEA: What damages our cells?
Dr. Samuelson: Our cells are damaged every day. Sunlight, toxins, chemicals, injuries, and even exercise can cause our cells to break down and become damaged. Anytime the chemistry of the cell is disturbed, damage can occur.
ASEA: What happens to our health when our cells are damaged?
Dr. Samuelson: Well, cell damage causes a chemical imbalance of reductants and oxidants in the cells and the blood that normally leads to cell repair and replacement. If it does not, it can cause the immune system to attack healthy cells, inflame tissues, and slow down the healing process. Not having enough oxidants cuts off the communication process and allows damaged, infected, and malfunctioning cells to thrive, divide, and spread the damage. We need to maintain a healthy chemical balance of reactive molecules – Redox Signaling molecules – in order to quickly heal and sustain health.
ASEA: It seems like we can’t escape some damage, though. How do our bodies repair and protect the cells from this damage?
Dr. Samuelson: You’re right, we can’t escape cellular damage, but our bodies are well equipped to repair themselves and protect our cells when we are healthy. When the cell is disturbed, oxidants communicate to healthy cells nearby that they have been damaged. The immune system is then activated and kills invading organisms. A healthy balance is then restored after all of the invading organisms are killed, and cells will divide and regenerate the tissues.
ASEA: We know that sometimes cells are so damaged that they have to be destroyed. How do the healthy cells replace those destroyed cells?
Dr. Samuelson: It’s pretty incredible. Once the invading organisms are killed and the damaged cells repaired, the healthy cells divide and multiply to fill in the missing cells with healthy new cells.
ASEA: Explain a little bit more about how our body works on the cellular level.
Dr. Samuelson: Our bodies are constantly working to maintain optimum cellular health. This happens by balancing reactive molecules to get rid of harmful components in the cell. Our bodies then repair or clean up the damaged cells, those that have been damaged because of oxidative stress and free radicals, and replace them with healthy cells, thus restoring proper balance.
ASEA: Can we enhance Redox Signaling in our bodies?
Dr. Samuelson: Yes! Increasing the amount of Redox Signaling carriers in our cells and tissues helps to make the process of repairing and eliminating damaged cells much more efficient. Redox Signaling carriers make it more likely that our cells are repaired and replaced more often. Healthy cells are better able to defend themselves and allow the immune system to respond in the right way. When Redox Signaling is working properly in our cells, communication between the cells is clearer and more efficient. Redox Signaling carriers simply help the communication process in our cells become more efficient. Increasing the amount of balanced Redox Signaling molecules also helps to activate the antioxidants that are already in the cells. When antioxidants are active, our natural protection is increased. This makes healthy cells better able to defend themselves.
ASEA: How does Redox Signaling affect our cells when we exercise? Is there any effect?
Dr. Samuelson: As energy needs for cells are increased during exercise, especially aerobic activity, oxygen and sugars in the blood must be able to be transferred to our muscles. Waste, like CO2 and lactates also need to be transferred out of the cells and into the blood to be released from the body. The efficiency with which the cells move oxygen and fuel through the blood and cells determines how long our bodies can sustain aerobic activity. Basically, Redox Signaling is the key to increasing endurance. Increasing the amount of balanced Redox Signaling molecules in our bodies helps to normalize the cells and tissues. A balanced Redox Signaling process increases the efficiency of moving oxygen through cells, making our exercise efforts more efficient.
Healthy bodies need healthy cells. Our cells are much more efficient at getting rid of harmful elements when Redox Signaling is working at maximum capacity. We are less fatigued, have more energy, experience the effects of aging less, and are healthier when Redox Signaling is working the way it should in our bodies.