If you want a basic overview of Nrf1 and Nrf2 activation, please start here.
For those of you who love a little bit more science, let’s go a little deeper into oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and how Nrf1 and Nrf2 work to repair cellular damage.
What Does Nrf1 and Nrf2 Stand For?
Nrf1and Nrf2 stand for “Nuclear Respiratory Factor 1” and “Nuclear Respiratory Factor 2” respectively. Each are protein pathways inside the cells that turn on certain genes and direct how genes are expressed.
What are these two protein pathways responsible for?
These pathways are responsible for anti-oxidant production and proper gene expression.
The Nrf2 pathway reduces oxidative stress inside the cells to promote phase II detoxification and boost immune function, whereas the Nrf1 pathway up-regulates mitochondrial production.
When taken together, cellular turnover rate becomes more efficient, thus promoting the body to heal at a cellular level.
Remember in biology class that our cells are the most basic functional unit of all living things? Up-regulating your cellular function leads to up-regulating the function of your entire being.
Let’s take one at a time and get into more detail.
Nrf1: The Mitochondrial Pathway
Our mitochondria are the little engines within each of our cells that function to produce ATP. ATP is our energy currency – therefore when we are not optimally producing ATP, we have less energy and feel more fatigued. But even more importantly than that, every biochemical reaction in the body relies on ATP to drive it, and so if our mitochondria aren’t performing, then every function of our body is compromised. Mitochondrial dysfunction is also linked with a myriad of different diseases.
While free radicals, toxins and pathogens continue to break down our mitochondria, the Nrf1 pathway helps support the cellular process to build those powerhouses back up.
This in turns leads to:
- Promoting cellular health and healthy aging
- An increase in APT production
- An increase in the ability to convert food to energy
- Increase in the cell growth and division
- Increase in cell energy and production then leads to an increase in organ and organ system health
- Greater physical and cognitive performance
Nrf2: The Anti-oxidant and Detoxification Pathway
Nrf2 activation is the pathway that enables DNA repair. Remember how once upon a time we thought that we were all just victims of our genes, and that there was nothing we could do about it? Well today, thanks to modern science, we know that that’s not true. We can influence the way our DNA is expressed, including which genes are turned on and off at any given time, through our nutritional and lifestyle choices.
Nrf2 activators communicate with cells commanding them to increase the number of active survival genes, turning the “good” genes on and “bad” genes off.
One of the key elements we see with Nrf2 activation is a dramatic reduction in oxidative stress, aka free radical damage. In fact, we see average reductions of 40% in 30 days, and up to 70% in 60 days.
Nrf2 activation also activates the body to increase production of these natural anti-oxidant enzymes:
- Glutathione- 300% in 120 days
- SOD (superoxide dismutase)-54%
There’s simply no eating the amount of antioxidants that can compare to this. It would be like putting out a wildfire with a garden hose. Nrf2 activation is the way to powerfully trigger reductions in oxidative stress within each and every cell.
I am almost there with you on this “oxidative stress” term. Can you break it down further for me?
A perfect visual of oxidative stress is by cutting an apple in half and leaving it out for an hour. Upon the initial cut, the apple is white. However, with time, the apple turns brown, or oxidized. This is the same when we put a newborn baby next to an 80 year old. With time, the 80 year old has acquired wrinkles and slower cognitive and motor movements.
In other words, oxidative stress is how our body’s reaction to the stressors that come with the gift of life itself.
Breathing, eating, and exercising are basic life routines that bear some form of load of oxidative stress on the body at a cellular level.
Those who are exposed to greater toxicity via chemicals in our food and water, heavy metal toxins, mold toxicity, various pathogens, EMFs, and pharmaceutical medications take on an even heavier load of oxidative stress.
Factors influencing oxidative stress:
- Breathing polluted air
- Eating food especially non-organic food that contains pesticides, fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics etc; and processed foods
- Environmental factors
- EMFs and radiation
- Any other chemical exposures
All of these contribute to chronic disease and inflammation.
Tip the scale to the right and illness/aging increases.
Reverse the process and oxidative stress load decreases.
With that being said, aging and disease itself build one by one depending on the body’s own ability to manage and combat oxidative stress. By providing Nrf2 activation, the cells having a much greater capacity and resilience to protect against the harmful effects of these factors.
Nrf2 Activation and Detoxification
Nrf2 activation also boosts our cells ability to detoxify, which is crucial in so many health issues. Remember how we said that Nrf2 activators can turn certain genes on and off? This is also true of genes that control detoxification. By turning on those detoxification genes, we can overcome certain gene defects such as MTHFR, COMT and CBS – and get detoxification moving again.
Nrf2 activation also boosts glutathione production in the body by 300%. Not only does this provide powerful antioxidant capability, but it also fuels phase 2 liver detoxification, which uses glutathione as one of its vital components.
The ability of Nrf2 activation to open up detoxification pathways is, in my opinion, one of the most profound ways it helps deal with chronic illness. Toxicity is at the root of so many health conditions – both in terms of cause and effect. Toxicity can be one of the causative factors in disease; but it can also be a result of disease or treatment, as in the case of antibiotic therapy for Lyme disease, or chemotherapy for cancer.
I believe that toxicity is one of the major contributing factors to autism, and have seen children actually lose their diagnosis through a careful process of detoxification. I have seen many cases of toxicity being a secondary effect of disease too. Lyme patients often have toxin releases when they start treatment, known as Herxheimer reactions. Their success in navigating treatment can be dependent on how well they clear the toxins created by killing off pathogens. Similarly, Candida releases toxins called aldehydes into the body, and clearing those chemicals will be as important as killing the yeast itself. Mold spores release toxins that can cause major health issues, and we need the body to be able to detoxify the mycotoxins.
Nrf2 activation can play a vital role in assisting the body to clear a wide variety of toxins, getting the cells, and indeed the whole person, on the road to recovery.
Who Could Benefit From Nrf1 and Nrf2 Activation?
No mammal on the planet is immune to the effects of oxidative stress and aging.
If this were the case, all of us would live feeling perfect forever. Aging wouldn’t have anywhere near the effects that it has on us and chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, autism-spectrum disorders and Lyme disease would not be reaching such epidemic proportions.
On the other hand, living life in a bubble far kept from the impacts of oxidative stress wouldn’t be life-giving either.
From everyday prevention for our loved ones to high performance needs in the athletic world; all the way to the autoimmune and chronic illness world, activating the Nrf1 and Nrf2 pathways inside the cells allow a targeted approach for all to increase quality and vitality of everyday life.