What Are Antioxidants and Free Radicals and Why Should I Care?

Lately, it seems antioxidants and free radicals are in the news a lot. And it these terms are treated as a black box. Free radicals are roaming doing god knows what to your body. And don’t even get me started on antioxidants! Just eat this and that and you’re good to go…

To completely explain antioxidants and radicals is to delve into the atomic theory in Chemistry. And I have to tell you that it wasn’t my favorite subject in college…

Let’s start with the radicals. They are a natural byproduct of cell metabolism in your body. Free radicals are formed when the body burns oxygen. However, free radicals have unpaired electrons and when they roam through the body, they cause cellular damage by disrupting the structure of other molecules by stealing their electrons. Get that? Such cell damage is believed to contribute to aging and various health problems such as cancer.

Here are just some of the diseases linked to excess radicals:

  • Aging
  • Various Cancers
  • Coronary Heart Disease
  • Arthritis
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Cataracts

They say each and every cell in your body is attacked by about 10,000 radicals a day!

Ok. I understand why free radicals are bad for me but what causes free radicals?

  • Exercise
  • Smoking
  • Sunlight
  • Pollution
  • Foods high in fats and sugar

Yikes! What can I do? Is it all over for me?

I have two words for you. Anti-oxidants. Ok, it’s one word so sue me.

So…what is an antioxidant?

The antioxidants are used to counteract free radicals in the human body. When the Antioxidants meet with a free radical, an available electron from the antioxidant will bond with the unpaired electron nullifying the harmful molecule. And presto! No more radicals.

Now you probably want to know what are good sources of Antioxidants?

  • Fruit and vegetables – fresh and mix it with some yogurt with live bacteria cultures
  • Organic tea and coffee – these crops are among the most heavily sprayed with pesticides. So get the organic leaves or beans if you can.
  • Dark chocolate – Now you have an excuse to eat chocolates. But not too much!
  • Vitamin E and C – take a pill
  • Beta-carotene – yellow and orange fruits and vegetables
  • Selenium – a good source is Brazil nuts

Now you know a little more about free radicals and antioxidants. You know just enough to be dangerous. Try including some of the foods or drinks that have known antioxidant properties in your daily diet.


Source by Matt Taylor

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