Do Free Radicals Damage Cells?
Free radicals damage cells and are linked to many diseases. Free radicals basically damage cells by stealing an electron, then the cell that lost the electron becomes a free radical, and it goes into a frenzy looking for another cell to steal an electron from and the chain goes on…..until an antioxidant comes along.
The Antioxidant’s Responsibility
When the antioxidant arrives, it gives the free radical one of its electrons, thereby stabilizing the free radical and stopping the chain reaction of malformed cells. Antioxidants do not become free radicals because they are equipped with extra electrons.
Antioxidants vs Free Radicals
As long as there are enough antioxidants to neutralize the free radicals all is well. The problems start when we have more free radicals than antioxidants. Our bodies produce some antioxidants but not enough to cover all of the free radicals we are exposed to. The balance between our intake of antioxidants and our exposure to free radicals may literally be the balance between life and death.
Signs that we are losing the battle.
Frequent infections, easy bruising, slow healing, thinner skin and excessive wrinkling and grey hair are signs that the free radicals may be winning. Do you feel groggy or achy after a burst of exercise? Do you feel groggy or ill after being stuck in a traffic jam, or spending time in a room full of smokers. If so, you may need to increase your antioxidants.
Where do we get free radicals and what diseases do they cause?
We are exposed to free radicals in almost every aspect of daily living. Free radicals come from air pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke, herbicides and pesticides to name a few. We also pick up free radicals from the food we eat (fried foods) and the things we drink (alcohol). We are exposed to so many free radicals, it is impossible for our body to overcome without help. Diseases linked to free radical damage are:
|Alzheimer’s||Eye lens degeneration|
|Heart Disease||Mental Illness|
How do I increase my protection against free radicals?
You can keep the antioxidants on the winning side of the battle by making changes to your diet and possible antioxidant supplementation. Antioxidants that are needed for survival and therefore called essential nutrients are Vitamin A and beta-carotene,Vitamin C, and Vitamin E. Other nutrients like bioflavonoids, pycnogenol, and hundreds of other protectors found in food are not essential but they are important.
What are the four main antioxidants and what foods should I eat?
Vitamin E – Nuts, seeds, vegetable and fish oils, whole grains, fortified cereals and apricots.
Vitamin C – Citrus fruits, green peppers, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, kale, cantaloupe, kiwi, and strawberries.
Vitamin A and beta-carotene – liver, egg yolk, milk, butter, spinach, carrots, squash, broccoli, tomato, cantaloupe, peaches, and grains.
Selenium – tuna, oysters, molasses, mushrooms, herring, cottage cheese, cabbage, and zucchini.
Test your antioxidant capacity by completing the antioxidant assessment on this website.