We often hear about free radicals on anti-aging product commercials. But do you know exactly what they are and what they do in your body?
What are free radicals
Free radicals are atoms with an unpaired electron.
During oxidation, an atom loses an electron and becomes unstable. These atoms will hunt for electrons from another atom or substance to fill in the missing the pair.
They immediately react and bond with other atoms to give the unpaired electron its “partner”. Those that failed to do so remain unstable and turn into free radicals.
Free radicals are naturally formed through chemical processes in the body like metabolism. But external sources can also generate these unstable atoms -- air pollution, cigarette smoke, chemicals, fried food, and alcohol.
The importance of minimizing free radical formation
When there are too many free radicals in the body, it will lead to an event called oxidative stress. This occurs when our cells, proteins, and DNA become too damaged.
Oxidative stress can cause unwanted diseases and speeds up the body’s aging process.
As we age, our body loses its power to fight off the harmful effects of free radicals. When it loses control over free radical formation, oxidative stress will happen too often, which will result in more damaged cells.
Minimizing the existence of free radicals is important so you can protect yourself from degenerative diseases. These are some health conditions associated with the negative effects of free radicals:
- atherosclerosis (clogged arteries)
- inflammatory diseases
- autoimmune disorders
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
No one can completely prevent free radical formation but the good news is your body can regulate oxidative stress with the help of antioxidants.
How to prevent free radical damage
Antioxidants are molecules that restrain oxidation. If there are atoms with unpaired electrons, antioxidants can donate an electron to stabilize those free radicals and make them less reactive.
If there is a balance between free radicals and antioxidants, this can stop oxidative stress from happening.
You can’t avoid free radicals but increasing your antioxidant levels can help prevent their negative effects on your body.
You can get antioxidants from your diet. These are examples of food sources that are rich in antioxidants:
- citrus fruits
- dark leafy green vegetables
- sweet potatoes
- dark chocolate
- red wine
- green tea
Antioxidants in foods come in the form of the following:
- Vitamins A, C, and E
- Polyphenols like resveratrol
Resveratrol contains powerful antioxidants that can protect you from free radical damage. Some of its popular sources are mentioned in the list above -- red wine, green tea, and dark chocolate.
But if you want to get its full benefits, it would be best to take a Resveratrol supplement daily. This way, you’ll gain the beneficial dose of this polyphenol and ensure your health at a cellular level.
Antioxidants make your cells healthy and it will show on how you look. You’ll be more radiant and younger than your actual age. I mean, who wouldn’t want that?
Aside from increasing your antioxidant levels, eating the right kind of food, being active, and decreasing your exposure to pollution and harmful chemicals will lower your risk of free radical damage.
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