At the very center of our cellular protective pathway is a protein called “Nrf2” that serves as a “master regulator” of the body’s antioxidant response. You might think of Nrf2 as a “thermostat” within our cells that senses the level of oxidative stress and other stressors and turns on internal protective mechanisms.
Soon after Nrf2 was identified, a flurry of scientific discoveries began to show how Nrf2 also regulated genes involved in the production of a wide range of antioxidant enzymes (including SOD, glutathione, and catalase), and detoxification or ‘‘stress-response’’ genes. These protective pathways are involved in seemingly unrelated areas of health from immune function to tissue optimization to cognitive function – but they all share in common the Nrf2 “switch” that enables cells to protect themselves from both internal and external environmental challenges.
In effect, Nrf2 activation enables our cells to make their own “medicines” to help us survive – and thrive – in stressful situations. More...