Free Radicals and Nutrition

Free radicals can pose a major threat to our health as they have the potential to damage our body at the cellular level. But what exactly is a free radical?

A free radical is an atom or molecule that contains an unpaired electron. Since electrons have a very strong tendency to exist in a paired state, free radicals try to steal electrons from other atoms and molecules. The danger they represent arises when they react with important cellular components of our body.

Free radicals usually steal the nearest stable molecule, taking its electron. When the attacked molecule loses its electron, it becomes a free radical itself (because it is now missing an electron), which sets off a chain reaction. A free radical triggers a cascade of new free radicals in our body, ultimately resulting in the disruption of the living cell.

Free radicals are generated naturally in the body as a normal part of biochemical processes like respiration and digestion. Sometimes the body’s immune system creates free radicals in order to neutralize viruses and bacteria. While not all free radicals are bad, too many of them can lead to a number of problems.

Excess free radicals can be caused by smoking, sunbathing, fried foods, infections, excessive exercise, stress, smog and other environmental pollutants, harmful chemicals, toxins, radiation, etc.

Excess free radicals are a problem because their damage can lead to premature aging, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, arthritis, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome and a host of other conditions. . The type of disease that occurs depends on which free radical defenses in the body were not working properly and where the free radical attacks occur.

To protect us against the harmful impact of free radicals, our body uses antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules that can safely interact with free radicals and stop the chain reaction before damage is done. Antioxidants donate an electron to the free radical and convert it into a harmless molecule.

Fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains are all good sources of natural antioxidants, but you can also choose to take a supplement. Fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants are sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, papaya, turnip, spinach, strawberries, kiwi, cranberries, plums, broccoli, red and green peppers, tomatoes , etc. Different antioxidants act in different areas of the body. , so the key is to eat as wide a range of antioxidants as possible.

There are many types of antioxidants such as enzymes, co-enzymes, vitamins, and sulfur-containing compounds. The most important antioxidant supplements are vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene and selenium. All are necessary for optimal health and disease prevention, however, our bodies cannot manufacture them, so they must be provided through proper nutrition and supplementation.

Antioxidant compounds need to be constantly replenished as they are used in the process of neutralizing free radicals.

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