The world and your body are made-up of molecules that are either stable or unstable. Your body’s cells are generally stable, while the air we breathe, chemicals we are exposed to, or even sunlight, can change your molecules and oxidize them. A molecule that has a complete set of electrons is stable. While a molecule that is missing an electron, becomes unstable and seeks to steal an electron from other molecules, and is considered a Free Radical. This oxidation process could be likened to rusting metal. Once the metal coating deteriorates, the air begins to oxidize the metal. In the body, this oxidation process arises from the free radical damage that the molecules are exposed to. This is why taking sufficient “anti-oxidants”, to protect against this process is essential to protect the very core essence of your existence, your DNA. (Free Radical = Oxidant)
Virtually any substance in your body or environment can become a free radical; since oxygen is so reactive it will usually happen to them. The atoms that are unstable, free radicals, try to become stable by stealing an electron from another source. During this process the free radicals are causing damage to cells. When the cellular DNA gets damaged and other structural components such as the skin, connective tissue, eye, etc., the body begins to age.
When you factor in what happens to the human body when free radical damage happens, ones overall health is greatly affected. It has such a great impact, that it actually dramatically affects your vital age, which is your body’s ‘biological age’. This is indicated by your level of energy, your strength and endurance, joint aches and flexibility, your overall resistance to illness and continued wellness.
An important factor that determines your vital age is the health of your circulatory system. Having healthy blood circulation makes sure that every cell gets the much needed oxygen. Your body needs to be able to process or metabolize substances; it uses oxygen for this because it is reactive. Oxidation is the body trying to process everything to become stable. However, during the processing the oxygen reaction, or oxidation, can result in free radicals. It is important to remember that free radicals can result from your own bodily processes or external toxins such as; pesticides, hormones, pollution, unhealthy processed foods, and yes even breathing…
You are the sum total of all your 75 trillion cells so when your individual cells at the molecular level become damaged this equates directly to the damage of your blood vessels, organs, brain, heart, or your skin. For example, your blood carries the oxygen to other parts of your body. However, if a free radical begins to damage the cellular tissue of an artery, the bodies’ immune system begins to respond. It will see the damage and alert the repair cells to fix the problem the free radical has caused. The repair process thickens the walls of the blood vessels further diminishing blood flow and ultimately increases the chance for a heart attack or stroke. Inevitably, the artery will become blocked and blood will not be able to pass through. This can lead to heart disease. This is just one way free radicals can cause damage, others are; cancer, osteoarthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, and many more.
Your body has natural defenses against free radicals, yet since the vast majority of us don’t consume sufficient fresh fruits and vegetables or other antioxidants so that our body is working from a deficit position.
Fortunately, your body can naturally fight against free radicals. Antioxidants are present within your body to help balance this highly reactive process. Antioxidants are enzymes or nutrients that your body produces. When an antioxidant and a free radical connect the antioxidant donates an electron to the free radical. The damage ceases because the free radical is now stable.
Another way your body protects itself from free radical damage is by repairing its cells. The human body has an increased ability to regenerate. A healthy body can replace 98% of their molecules in a year. It can also replace its DNA. The human body can adapt to new threats by mutating its cells to protect itself. This process can take quite a long time.
Ways of preventing the destruction of free radicals are; eating healthy, exercising, and cleansing the body of toxins. Overall, maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle is important. It will strengthen the body’s response to free radical stress. Exercise contributes to a healthy lifestyle by decreasing body weight, improving mental function and stress reduction. Eating healthy will decrease your caloric consumption of negative food items and increase your vitamin and nutrient absorption. If you limit your refined sugar and processed carbohydrates you will have more room for the fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain vital nutrients, antioxidants, and anti-cancer characteristics.
Vitamin C – a water soluble antioxidant that many health experts believe should be consumed at levels of 2000mg and above. Interestingly, cats and dogs make vitamin C when stressed. Humans don’t have this capacity.
Vitamin E – is a fat soluble antioxidant and can help protect LDL, the bad cholesterol, from being oxidized (free radical damage). It is important to have sufficient fat soluble and water soluble antioxidants.
Selenium – a simple trace mineral is largely deficient in the soil in many parts of North America and the world. It is an antioxidant and works to help support the function of other antioxidants made by the body naturally in the liver. A little selenium goes a long way and the dosage should never exceed 400 mcg and is typically kept on a daily basis to 200-300 mcg.
Beta-carotene and Flavonoids – occur in a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. There is a saying in nutritionally oriented preventative medicine, “We should all eat the rainbow each day”, in terms of the colors of our fresh fruits and veggies. It is the coloration or pigment in our produce that reflects the flavonoid and carotenoid content. These types of antioxidants can also be called phytonutrients, since they are from plant sources.
Ginkgo biloba – is a potent antioxidant and also blood vessel dilator, it has long been touted for its ability to help with brain performance and indeed has special antioxidant properties that enable it to be a great protector of the brain.
CoQ10 – CoQ10 is a naturally occurring antioxidant in our bodies and it is essential to have sufficient levels for the contraction of the heart which on average is over 100,000 times per day for an adult. As we age this antioxidant level drops and leaves us vulnerable to premature aging and cellular damage.
Grape seed Extract – is another very powerful phytonutrient that most experts believe should be part of everyone’s dietary intake after all the research on grapes, grape juice and wine is extensive. This specific nutrient can also help regenerate the antioxidant capacity of vitamin C and E after they have combated a free radical trying to damage one of your cells.
Chinese Mushrooms, LingZhi, YungZhi – These mushrooms and others bring a wide variety of not only nutritional properties, anti-inflammatory and immune properties but also antioxidant capacity. Indeed the food of the Asian culture for centuries has included generous portions of mushrooms. They are both therapeutic and medicinal with millennia of strategic use.
While eating smart and use supplements can provide you with nutrients and extra antioxidants, there are other ways to arm yourself against free radicals. Cleansing the body of toxins, dead cell, and unprocessed nutrients, will unblock the paths of elimination. Allowing the toxins to vacate the body will decrease the risk of free radical damage.
The inner workings of your body are filtering everything that you do. From the food that you eat to the extracurricular activities you partake in, you are exposing yourself to possible harmful elements. When an atom in your body becomes unstable, by losing an electron, it becomes a damaging free radical. While this harmful atom is trying to stabilize it is causing undo harm to other atoms and molecules it comes in contact with. If left unchecked it can cause a chain reaction throughout your body that can eventually manifest as a disease. Luckily, your body is already equipped to handle this type of situation. Your body produces antioxidants that help stabilize these highly reactive atoms. You live a normal and healthy life, because of this give and take. However, when you expose yourself to toxins and lead an unhealthy lifestyle, it takes a toll on this process. That’s why it is important to eat healthy and get the vital nutrients you can only get from fruits and vegetables and supplementation. Avoiding daily pollutants can be helpful, but it’s near impossible these days. So, maintaining optimal health may include a detoxification program. Also, exercise is important to maintain a positive attitude and cardiovascular system.
- May 2013