Background: The Antioxidant Hypothesis has dominated the last 6 decades1 as a nutritional strategy for preventing and treating disease. This hypothesis arose out of an erroneous assumption that diets rich in plant foods demonstrably prevented disease due to their content of vitamins, especially vitamins C, E and beta-carotene. However, thousands of well-designed clinical trials utilising antioxidant vitamins have not provided convincing evidence for disease prevention2. Some studies have even produced such negative outcomes that the trials had to be stopped early.
Although vitamins C, E and beta-carotene are essential nutrients in human cells, sixty years of evidence does not support the over-arching hypothesis that these nutrients prevent chronic non-deficiency diseases or retard ageing. A growing understanding of cellular redox balance and the mechanisms cells use to defend themselves against a variety of insults underpins a new paradigm in nutritional therapy. Knowledge of complex communication systems within cells and the intricate signalling systems governing their intrinsic defence systems provides the foundation for this new paradigm.
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