What exactly are “indirect” antioxidants?
Unlike “direct” antioxidants such as vitamin C and E, “indirect” antioxidants are our body’s strongest antioxidant defense enzymes, such as glutathione and superoxide dismutase. The potency can be rather huge, when one considers vitamin C can neutralize one free radical per molecule. However, certain plant extracts such as ecklonia cava, curcumin, resveratrol and sulforaphane can activate a gene switching that occurs via the Nrf2/ARE pathway. This action can fight off millions of free radicals per second!
The cellular mechanisms derived from certain plant substances that increase the body’s production of antioxidant enzymes are considered the most powerful body defenses against toxins. In addition, some plant substances can “switch” back on genes that allow antioxidant activity in organ systems that maybe are switched “off” for environmental or genetic reasons. Therefore, these plant extracts can act as epigenetic modifiers. Epigenetic means “above genes,” as to the ability to modify their expression.
Natural and Novel Gene Therapy
It is now starting to be understood by scientists and researchers alike of the potential health benefits by providing safe, effective antioxidant protection against age related diseases and optimizing detoxification of any particular toxin, such as drugs, alcohol, heavy metals, radiation, etc.
This type of defense works against other challenges the body faces, such as emotional and physical types of stress. Optimizing defenses against autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Protecting against DNA fragmentation that can lead to cancer. The list goes on and on.
The Key Substances
The primary cellular defenses found in some plants identified are referred to as the Nrf2/ARE pathway. Nrf2 (Nuclear factor erythroid 2) and ARE (Antioxidant Response Element) can be upregulated by such plant extracts as ecklonia cava, curcumin, sulforaphane (broccoli sprouts) and resveratrol. 
Imagine for a moment if you are susceptible to a chronic lung disease. Chances are your Nrf2 system is switched to the “off” position. This means whatever contaminants or toxins enter your lungs, the body’s innate antioxidant system will fail to work properly. If one can switch Nrf2 system back to the “on” position, those toxins can now be cleaned out, acting as a promising way to prevent a chronic lung or respiratory disease.
Why Add These to Your Diet?
If one could safeguard themselves against the threat of a chronic inflammatory disease it would make good sense to supplement with promoters of the Nrf2/ARE pathway. With chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome/diabetes, liver diseases, etc. it may make little sense not to take these if one is interested in their health.