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The Antioxidant Prescription by Bryce Wylde
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The Antioxidant Prescription

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The Antioxidant Prescription by Bryce Wylde
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Nov 03, 2009 | ISBN 9780307355867

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"The Antioxidant Prescription can help prevent the rusting of your arteries — the single most important ager of them all" —Mehmet Oz, MD, author of YOU Being Beautiful

“Natural medicine and the field of applied antioxidant supplementation are witnessing the emergence of a new voice. Bryce Wylde’s years of clinical experience allow him to translate primary scientific findings about free radicals and disease into a program accessible to every person concerned about optimal health.” —Andrew Weil, MD, author of Healthy Aging

Author Essay


The list of things we should eat is much shorter than the list of things we need to avoid.

Here’s a worst-ten list.

1. Fast food. You don’ t need me to go into more detail about fast foods. Avoid ’em.

2. Hydrogenated fats, as we all know by now, must be avoided because they cause heart disease. They’ve been used for years in snack foods, bakery items and margarine. Avoid buying cookies, crackers, baked goods or anything else that has hydrogenated oil or trans-fats on the ingredients list.

3. Olestra is a synthetic fat used to make non-fat potato chips and other snacks. You’d think, with all the bad rap fat has garnered, a non-fat fat would be great. But Olestra has been shown to bind with fat-soluble vitamins A, E, D and K and carotenoids – our invaluable antioxidant nutrients – and to eliminate them from the system. Never mind the fact that Olestra causes stomach upset and, er, other digestive problems, its consumption encourages people to skip over fruits and vegetables for snacks that appear to offer no threat.

4. Nitrates, found at high levels in cured meats such as bacon and hot dogs, preserve colour and prevent microbes from taking up residence. But they’re bad – really bad. The nitrate itself is harmless, but it can convert to nitrite in your body, which in turn can form nitrosamines, powerful cancer-causing chemicals. Whenever possible, look for nitrate-free organic meats. If you must eat foods containing nitrates, take extra vitamin C as it is known to prevent the conversion to nitrosamines in your stomach.

5. Alcohol – I’m not talking here about moderate amounts of red wine – causes many problems. Liver toxicity is the main issue when we exceed our limits, and this, as we’ve learned, causes free radical excess.

6. Raw oysters and sushi are great but they can carry deadly bacteria that can cause severe illness or death. You take a big risk every time you consume them. To date, no government or independent body inspects seafood for safety or will guarantee its quality. Oysters and fish are usually safe and nutritious foods if you cook them first.

7. Saturated animal fats include the fatty meats, especially beef and pork, or the skin on poultry. It also includes full-fat dairy products such as cheese, milk and cream. Fatty meat and dairy products do have some contributions to make to a diet – including nutrients that feed your brain – but not many that can’t be found elsewhere.

8. Soda pop is a poor way to get fluids in the short term and a great way to develop diabetes in the longer term. Pop is full of sugar or artificial sweeteners and often contains caffeine, artificial colours and flavours. Replace pop by mixing sparkling water with fresh, pure juice. Bonus: the sparkling juice tastes better than pop. (That’s why pop bottlers try to imitate it.)

9. High-fat and high-sodium snacks, including chips, even if they are made with vegetable oil. Try to avoid these. The balance of fat in our diets has shifted too far towards the omega-6 variety found in most processed vegetable oils. We way overdo salt, leading to many cases of high blood pressure. And there’s now evidence that too many of these fats and sodium-rich foods may be leading to specific chronic diseases. One reason we want to supplement the diet with the necessary omega-3 oils is to regain the proper omega balance and prevent everything from inflammation to heart disease.

10. Frozen meals may not be inherently bad for you if they have all the “right” ingredients in them, but they do keep you from eating fresh, whole, natural foods that contain more nutrients and fibre and disease-fighting phytochemicals. You may be tempted to excuse them as “better than fast food.” You may be sometimes pressured for time. But don’t let simple laziness displace real foods in your diet.


The secret of my nutrition plan is that you’ll turn it into a way of life simply because you’ll feel so good. You may have to exercise some willpower, yet remain balanced and never become fanatical.

1. QUALITY: Assure that every item of food you eat has the highest possible antioxidant (ORAC) value within its group and class. Cross-check the “grocery list” that I provide for you below. Your diet is going to include a lot of beans, berries, colourful fruits and vegetables – at least seven servings a day – and that 70 per cent chocolate and even one or two glasses of red wine. If it doesn’t originate in nature, or it isn’t organic, or it’s sprayed with pesticides, don’t touch it. Pesticides, as we’ve learned, wreak havoc on the nervous system by way of free radicals. Purchase only foods labelled “certified organic.”

2. METHOD: Chew your food until it is liquefied before you swallow it. Use digestive enzymes with larger meals if you currently experience indigestion, heartburn, gas or bloating. Digestive enzymes can help ensure that you absorb everything you ingest. Remember, you are what you eat, but more importantly, you are what you absorb. I would recommend a broad-spectrum enzyme that you can take in capsule form. These supplements are high in plant-based protease, lipase and amylase enzymes.

3. TIMING: Don’t skip meals. Listen to your body and eat when you’re slightly hungry, not starving. Aim for six meals a day (three main meals, two snacks, and a couple of squares of 70 per cent chocolate in the evening). If you use nutrition bars or shakes, use only the well-formulated ones that provide less than 300 calories, with less than 15 per cent of these calories coming from carbohydrates (including sugars) and at least 40 per cent of the calories coming from protein. Consume such snacks between meals only, and don’t forget to avoid the ones with preservatives and artificial colours.

4. PREPARATION: For convenience, prepare some of your staple foods in bulk in advance. Don’t hesitate to preboil grains, precut fruits and vegetables and grill your meat in advance. Use glass containers to freeze and to prepackage this food. Avoid storing food in plastic. Avoid microwaving, frying and barbecuing. Instead, grill, steam, broil and boil, methods that cause less free radical damage to the food.

5. QUANTITY: Try eating meals from small “dessert” plates. Listen to your body for signs of moderate hunger or low blood sugar. You know you’ve waited too long to eat when you start getting shaky, becoming forgetful, irritable or light-headed. Earn your food by remaining active, but don’t focus on exact amounts or calorie counting. Wait at least thirty minutes from the time you’ve started your first helping before you think about having seconds. It takes a minimum of ten to fifteen minutes to eat the amount of food on your plate and then about fifteen minutes for your brain to register the satisfaction of having eaten this food.

6. HYDRATION: Drink lots of water, but make sure to drink most of it between meals so as not to dilute your digestive enzymes during mealtime.

7. WHAT NOT TO EAT: This rule is a variation on the Remove principle we talked about as one of the four Rs. It is also highlighted in my “worst-ten” foods list above. When you remove harmful and oxidizing foods from your diet, you make the task of combatting free radicals that much easier.

Beyond those baddies you’ll avoid outright, you’ll also want to seriously limit the following:

• Fat. When you do require fat, use olive oil or a very small amount of butter.
• Sugar (or its equivalents such as brown sugar, syrup, honey or molasses). Try using stevia or moderate amounts of agave nectar as a replacement sweetener.
• Refined carbohydrates such as pasta, bread, cakes, cookies.
• Not more than one serving of wheat-based products a day.
• Not more than one serving of dairy products a day.
• No alcohol except for the recommended wine.
• Not more than one serving of red meat a week.

8. NEVER PLAN A CHEAT DAY: Birthdays, weddings, holidays and other special occasions for eating happen as often as once per week for many of us. My rule is that when these celebrations occur, ignore the no-go foods, have fun and enjoy in moderation. But when special occasions occur more than once a week, it’s carrot sticks for you, not birthday cake.


Take this qualifying quiz before you read further in my book. If you score less than 10, promise yourself that you will read it right to the end. If you score between 11 and 14, you’re well informed about the latest nutrition and antioxidant research, and well prepared to think about implementing my action plan. If you score 15, put the book back on the shelf and call me immediately: I want you on my team.

1. What is the best way to prepare vegetables to retain the most antioxidant activity?
(a) Serve raw
(b) Steam lightly
(c) Boil
(d) Microwave
(e) It depends

2. Which of the following can neutralize “bad” cholesterol so it doesn’t damage your arteries?
(a) Papaya
(b) Sweet potato
(c) Nuts
(d) None of the above
(e) All of the above

3. For preventative regimens, experts recommend getting antioxidants from food as well as relying on supplements because
(a) Supplements mostly contain therapeutic levels of antioxidants, whereas foods contain maintenance amounts.
(b) Supplements do not contain the variety of phytochemicals that fruits and vegetables do.
(c) Many people can’t remember to take pills.
(d) Supplements must be taken in megadoses to have an effect.

4. Which drink bestows the most heart-healthy antioxidant power?
(a) Red wine
(b) Green tea
(c) Pomegranate juice
(d) Cranberry juice
(e) Orange juice

5. A free radical is
(a) A cell that promotes health throughout the body.
(b) A naturally or artificially occurring substance that causes disease if left unchecked.
(c) A vitamin that is distributed at no charge at health food stores and natural-medicine clinics.
(d) A nutrient that works to correct any imbalance in your body.

6. Which action causes free radicals to form, potentially putting you at greater risk of heart disease?
(a) Eating pie à la mode
(b) Breathing
(c) Taking high amounts of a single antioxidant
(d) Exercise
(e) All of the above
(f) None of the above

7. Which of the following statements is true as it relates to your genes and free radical activity in your body?
(a) Free radicals promote gene and cell division.
(b) Your DNA is unaffected by free radicals.
(c) Free radicals can cause genetic mutations.
(d) Free radicals cause cancer.
(e) Two of the above.

8. Which statement is false?
(a) In general, more colour in fruits and veggies indicates greater antioxidant activity.
(b) Consuming different coloured fruits and veggies in a meal will usually ensure a wider variety of nutrients.
(c) You should shoot for three servings of fruits and veggies a day.
(d) Eating lots of antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies will also fill you up, preventing you from overeating.

9. Which of the following does not contain antioxidants?
(a) Pizza
(b) Whole grains
(c) Nuts
(d) Chocolate
(e) Coffee
(f) None of the above
(g) All of the above

10. Under special circumstances, free radicals can be a good thing for your body because
(a) They can give you a boost of energy at the end of a long-distance workout.
(b) They are the weaponry your body uses to fight off viruses and bacteria.
(c) They can protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
(d) They cause mutations in our genetic code, and without that our species wouldn’t evolve.

11. The following environmental toxin causes harmful amounts of free radicals to accumulate in the body:
(a) Sunlight, UV and solar radiation
(b) Cellphone-tower radiation
(c) “Background” radiation
(d) Industrial smog
(e) They all do

12. Which of the following medical investigation techniques does not cause free radical accumulation in the body?
(a) Medical x-rays
(b) CAT scans
(c) Mammography
(d) Ultrasound

13. Which of the following will cause the most free radical accumulation in your body?
(a) Spending four hours in a smoke-laden bar
(b) An intense two-hour workout
(c) Drinking five beers
(d) Eating two combos at McDonald’s
(e) Listening to an hour-long lecture from your boss
(f) All of the above except b
(g) All of the above are approximately equal

14. Which of the following does not have antioxidant qualities?
(a) Vitamin E
(b) Vitamin K
(c) Calcium
(d) Omega-3 fatty acids
(e) All of the above

15. Which of the following drinks has the highest antioxidant activity?
(a) Black tea (no milk or sugar)
(b) Orange juice
(c) Milk
(d) Red wine
(e) Apple juice


The correct answer is (b): Steam lightly. Cooking vegetables over a long period of time or in large amounts of water can reduce vitamin C content, but cooking does make some antioxidants, such as lycopene in tomatoes and beta-carotene in carrots, more easily absorbed by the body. To minimize nutrient loss, steaming and stir-frying are good cooking methods. How you prepare vegetables, however, is less important than eating generous servings of a wide variety of them.

2. The correct answer is (e): All of the above. All three of these foods are rich in health-promoting antioxidants. In a health study that is still under way, researchers compared the diets of more than 73,000 nurses and found that a diet rich in vitamin E (found in nuts) reduced heart attack risk by 52 per cent, a diet rich in vitamin C (abundant in papaya) reduced risk by 43 per cent and a diet rich in beta-carotene (plentiful in sweet potatoes) reduced risk by 38 per cent. Nurses who regularly took in this trio of nutrients were 63 per cent less likely to have heart attacks than those who did not.

3. The correct answer is (b). When you snack on a carrot, for instance, you get beta-carotene as well as the countless other carotenoids found in orange and yellow fruits and veggies. Such subtle arrays of phytochemicals can’t be replicated by supplements.

4. The correct answer is (c): Pomegranate juice. When it comes to antioxidant punch, pomegranate juice is off the charts. Studies show that a glass of this fruit juice packs more polyphenol antioxidants than any other drink.

5. The correct answer is (b). Because free radicals are missing an electron, they are considered unstable. Antioxidant vitamins and minerals lend electrons to these free radicals, thus neutralizing their harmful effects and protecting against conditions such as heart disease, premature aging and cancer.

6. The correct answer is (e): All of the above. Believe it or not, all of these situations can cause the formation of free radicals. Don’t panic though: Everyone eats sweets from time to time, and exercise also bestows many health benefits. Breathing is a natural fact of life. The point is that if you follow a healthy diet that’s chock full of antioxidants, you can mop up the free radicals, vanquishing their harmful effects.

7. The correct answer is (e): Two of the above (c and d). Free radicals can cause base pairs, the building blocks of your DNA, to switch and mutate, which then can spark the initial stages of cancer.

8. The correct answer is (c). Three is not enough, though of course it’s better than nothing. Ideally, you should aim for five to nine servings of fruits and veggies daily to pack in the protection you need. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, children ages two to six should eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day; children over age six, active women and teens should eat seven; and active teen boys and men should eat nine. Following a rainbow eating plan by reaching for lots of colourful produce is a powerful way to protect your heart.

9. The correct answer is (f). All of these foods contain antioxidants that can help protect your ticker (in the case of pizza, tomatoes supply the powerful nutrients). However, be sure to enjoy these foods in moderation. Pizza and chocolate contain saturated fat; nuts, which contain heart-healthy, monounsaturated fat, are still high in fat and calories and can cause weight gain. Obesity is a risk factor for heart disease.

10. The correct answer is (b). Under special circumstances free radicals can be a good thing for your body because, ultimately, they are the weaponry your body uses to fight off viruses and bacteria.

11. The correct answer is (e): They all do.

12. The correct answer is (d): Ultrasound.

13. The correct answer is (g): All of them are roughly equal.

14. The correct answer is (c): Calcium.

15. The correct answer is (d): Red wine.

Excerpted from The Antioxidant Prescription by Dr. Bryce Wylde Copyright © 2008 by Dr. Bryce Wylde. Excerpted by permission of Random House Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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