When most people hear the words ‘free radicals’ their thoughts go to some person or group who are united by a sense of non-conformity to other subcultures. However, there is another definition to free radicals and this definition is connected to everyone.
So exactly what is a ‘free radical’? It can get quite technical from a physics or chemistry point of view. Now that you know that, here is the technical definition: A free radical is an atom or group of atoms with at least one unpaired electron; in the body it is usually an oxygen molecule that has lost an electron and will stabilize itself by stealing an electron from a nearby molecule.
Here is the non technical definition: Free radicals are the bad guy’s ping ponging inside your body and causing cell damage. Ok, so what? Well if you have hundreds and thousands of these free radicals bouncing all around inside your body, like a pinball, damaging cells eventually there will be enough cell damage that it opens the doors wide to invite illness into your body.
What kinds of illness? There are many kinds, but here are just a few you may be familiar with: Cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. More free radical damage means more illness. It is a vicious cycle. Where do free radicals come from anyway? A free radical is formed from Oxidative Stress.
What is Oxidative Stress?
It’s another technical definition: Oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen and a biological system’s ability to readily detoxify the reactive intermediates or easily repair the resulting damage.
Here is the non-technical definition: Oxidative stress causes a banana to turn brown in days, an apple to turn brown almost as soon as you cut or bite into it. Oxidative stress happens to us every day just like what happens to a banana or an apple. You cannot get away from oxidative stress. You make it just by breathing. It is all around you, it is oxygen.
There have been studies done on oxidative stress and the effects it has on the body. There have also been studies done on how to combat free radicals and oxidative stress. Approximately 40 years ago scientists discovered ‘antioxidants’. Nobody really knew what they were and what they did, but science has done a lot more in the past few years and have discovered that antioxidants do help combat and neutralize free radicals. When we are young our bodies make enough antioxidants on their own in addition to foods that we consume. However, as we age the body stops making its own antioxidants and we need to get them from our diets to help neutralize free radicals to stop them from causing even more damage.
Activating oxygen can produce compounds called radicals that put oxidative stress on cells. Such stress could ultimately lead to cancer and other diseases. – John Simon
So what does this really mean? Let’s go back to the apple that had been cut or bitten into. When someone is baking an apple pie there is a step some place in that recipe that calls for lemon. Lemons have antioxidants. If you coat the apples that you are about to bake with lemon juice it stops them from turning brown which is caused by oxidative stress. The antioxidants from the lemon have combated and neutralized the free radicals to stop damage to those apples.
Therefore, if we consume antioxidants we can combat free radical damage which contributes to wrinkles, chronic illness and other disease as we age. The more antioxidants you can get in your diet each day the more protection you can give your cells. If you don’t have time to eat mountains of organic fruits and vegetables or even afford them, you have an alternative and may want to give serious consideration to consuming a dietary supplement raw organic gourmet health chocolates.
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The Medical News