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Protein Oxidation: A health Warning


Protein Oxidation

If you don’t know what “ protein oxidation ” means, you’ve most likely lost recent research from the 20th century. However, let’s think that this is a bit talked about, and so in this case it is perfectly accepted that a person wants to have an idea of ​​what it is or even how it can negatively affect your health and of course your performance other than your results , be it in strength training or any other sport.

Oxidation of proteine

Henry D. Darkin was one of the first scientists to talk about the oxidation of protein or, more precisely, the oxidation of specific amino acids. He reported that some of the processes to which proteins and, of course, amino acids are exposed may affect aspects of the digestion of these compounds and thus may cause consequences due to their chemical reactivity.

Known as PROTOX, the oxidation of a protein is very similar to the oxidation of lipids, or LOX, that form compounds harmful to the human body.

In the 20th century, known biochemists showed the negative effects of PROTOX causing reactions that disrupt the balance of natural oxidation levels acceptable to the human body.

Therefore, knowing what it is and what it can cause, as well as ways to get lower levels of PROTOX in our food can be fundamental to get the maximum benefit rather than harm from food.

How does protein oxidation occur?

Let’s imagine that the raw protein is chicken breast. Of course, coming from a bird, it is exposed to factors such as heat, human manipulation (appropriate or not), oxidized oils in its diet (feed or not). In addition, during its processing, after slaughter, it is also superimposed on factors such as its processing (used machines, methods, etc.), and while in the industry for the consumer, it still suffers damage during its preparation.

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All these factors can be considered the main factors of protein oxidation. However, secondarily, other factors may also interfere with oxidation, such as the use of drugs in these animals, the consumption of junk food, etc.

A protein oxidation occurs by molecules that interact with cellular compounds and cause electron loss, that is, they capture an electron from that element and make it prone to damage, which can be irreversible or even cell death. Obviously, we are moving from oxidizing the meat we eat or the source of protein to our body, because we consume compounds that have already been oxidized (other antioxidantsas mentioned earlier). Thus, this oxidation leads to rancidity, disease, formation of toxic compounds, etc. Antioxidant factors act here: they serve as a substrate for these oxidative molecules to prevent their interaction with cells. Such factors may be dietary supplements, phytogenic agents, antioxidants (vitamins, minerals, etc.), fatty acids (omega-3), etc. however, even if these factors are high in the body, they will not be able to do anything if they are still deficient in oxidants (or what we do for them).

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But what causes protein oxidation?

Knowing this, we should not think that we are oxidizing just by ingesting oxidized proteins.

Although the exact and real mechanisms of protein oxidation to the harm they cause in the body, science is not clear enough, it is known that they are closely linked to diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, fibrosis in liver tissue, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, arthritis , muscular dystrophies, among others. Accordingly, we can also assume that PROTOX interferes with the digestibility and bioavailability of ingested protein, in the nutritional value and organoleptic qualities of food, etc.

All this interaction of oxidized compounds with the gastrointestinal tract also leads to significant consequences: the level of cell damage in important tissues such as heart or even brain tissue can be increased, creating serious diseases such as coronary heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases. toxicity to the gastrointestinal tract, indirect posttranslational changes (other than LOX - lipid oxidation - which has a direct effect), interaction with lipid oxidation compounds that can cause DNA damage.

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O The gastrointestinal tract is one of the most affected by high consumption of PROTOX and can cause major changes. The large intestine itself, rich in bacteria necessary for the human body and part of the intestinal flora, is damaged by the death of many of these bacteria.

In general, science believes that oxidized proteins can interact with cells, causing toxicity, mistaken replication, cell death and, of course, disease.

Is there a way to prevent protein oxidation?

In fact, nothing can be done to completely prevent lipid oxidation. It is, in a way, a natural process of all proteins. . However, it must be said that factors such as the source of raw materials (and all aspects that affect it), forms of industrialization of these proteins, storage, packaging, time of consumption, method of preparation, interaction with other compounds, among others, may directly interfere with this quality. Especially proteins with high levels of tyrosine, lysine (mostly found in casein) and tryptophan are more prone to such oxidative effects. Obviously, the quality of food in general (because, as we have seen, the weakening of oxidation can be done in some ways), there is also much.

Obviously, however, this does not mean that we should not consume protein , plants or animals (since both suffer from oxidation), because we know that these are important macronutrients for the body, and they can never be deficient. However, it is important that we consider improving the above aspects to minimize these negative effects.

Can Antioxidant Nutrients Help Prevent PROTOX?


Consumption of antioxidant nutrients is essential to ensure an adequate balance of oxidation levels in metabolism . There are nutrients such as vitamin E, ascorbic acid and others that are needed to ensure the interaction between you and the oxidative compound, making a kind of “neutralizing” effect that they can have on cells. This is why these nutrients are considered protective, and that is why (because they prevent cell death) they are used as anti-aging nutrients.

Increasingly, the elucidation of antioxidant nutrients has been relevant to the diet. Some of these examples are selenium, lycopene, beta-carotene, etc., which have been little discussed for some time, mostly with the elucidation of vitamins. But, in particular, related to PROTOX, we can observe some peculiar and interesting facts:

Vitamin E does not work to weaken protein oxidation;

Vitamin C MAY INCREASE protein oxidation.

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These antioxidants are of no use when added to food (including vitamin C). However, keep in mind that the most influential at the moment is the concentration in relation to the amount of protein, the type of protein and, mainly, the ways in which they interact with external elements. So you see, it’s a lot harder than you think? And more than that: do you realize that the industry won’t spend so much time fine-tuning these much-needed precision parts?

So don’t believe it, necessarily because antioxidants are added to food, in fact it will be less oxidized.

Is there an advantage in organic protein foods?

Much has been said about the use of antioxidant products. In fact, they are slightly better quality, but this does not mean that they are completely effective. They may even be subjected to lower oxidation rates, as their processes, from origin (raw material) to processing, storage are subjected to greater care than inorganic products. However, we can definitely assume that its cost x benefit may not be worth it , especially for people like bodybuilders who consume large amounts of protein daily.

Yes, yes, they may be less oxidized than inorganic foods, but in practice, it may speak louder about your pocket.


However, we can conclude that proteins can undergo oxidative processes that cause from mild damage to severe damage, killing cells and causing dysfunctions in systems and / or tissues.

All this oxidation is due to facts that include everything from the production of raw materials to cooking. Therefore, we must closely monitor each of them to minimize the impact, which, incidentally, does not seem to be significantly mitigated by insufficient use of nutrients, antioxidants.

Good workout!

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