What are free radicals? Why should we worry about them? How can we help our bodies get rid of them?
I will try to answer these questions for you as best I can. It is important to know about free radicals and how to prevent them for optimal health and longevity.
What are free radicals? Lets start there, because one should have a basic understanding of what a free radical is. Ok so here it goes without getting all scientific on you. Our bodies are made up of cells and lots of them. Our many different cells are made up of many different molecules. Molecules are made up of one or more atoms. Atoms are joined by chemical bonds, protons and electrons. Now positive protons are surrounded by negative electrons. The number of protons an atom has determines the number of electron require to stabilize the molecule.
Therefore an equal number of protons and electrons make for a stable molecule. And that is awesome. However, sometimes the bonds can be weak between the inner protons and the outer electrons. And when this happens the molecule can lose one or more of it electrons and thus becomes a free radical. Free radical molecules are constantly trying to get themselves stabilized again. They do this by stealing the desired electrons from other molecules. Thus potentially creating more free radicals.
Does that make sense? I hope so.
Why we should worry about free radicals. Well as a molecule becomes unstable it will try to correct this, as stated, by stealing from other molecules, thus creating chain reaction. If to many free radicals happen in a given cell the cell becomes faulty. And damaged cells can lead to complete failure which leads to disease. The older the body the more susceptible it is to free radicals. However, not all free radicals are bad. Sometimes your immune system will create free radicals to go out and neutralize viruses and bacteria from our bodies. Some free radicals are created normally as a result of metabolism. Where the problem lies, is when this process become out of balance. So one should try to give the body the best opportunity to keep these free radicals under control. Especially the older you get. So that is why you should be concerned about them. An unchecked free radical running amuck in your body can cause some grief. So what can we do about it? Your in luck, as that just happens to be the topic of my next paragraph.
How can we help our bodies get rid of them? Vitamins C and E are believed to be the best sources of free radical reduction. Vitamin E, is the most abundant fat-soluble antioxidant in the body. One of the most efficient chain-breaking antioxidants available. Primary defender against oxidation. Primary defender against lipid peroxidation (creation of unstable molecules containing more oxygen than is usual).And vitamin C is the most abundant water-soluble antioxidant in the body. Acts primarily in cellular fluid. Of particular note in combating free radical formation caused by pollution and cigarette smoke. Also helps return vitamin E to its active form. That sounded kind of doctorish didn’t it? I would like to take this moment to thank Dr. L. Martin, I borrowed these few statements and facts from him as I wanted to relay them to you as correctly as possible. The power of antioxidants may help with disease prevention. Chances of developing heart disease by taking vitamin E may be lowered as vitamin E may protect against cardiovascular disease by defending against LDL oxidation and artery-clogging plaque formation. Some types of cancers may be prevented. Many studies have correlated high vitamin C intakes with low rates of cancer, particularly cancers of the mouth, larynx and esophagus. Thank you again my good doctor.
The trick it seems to ridding oneself of free radicals is to get ALL Natural sources of the vitamins as the body can absorb and use them better in that form. Unfortunately, today’s food production systems are not all that natural. If you have access to organically grown all natural fruits and veggies you are very lucky and need to capitalize on that. The rest of us, well we will have to find supplemental sources. The trick here is to make sure the product you are taking is of a high quality and is complete in nature. The body cannot absorb the nutrient by itself it must have a catalyst attacked to it so the body can not only recognize it but also use it. Higher end supplements generally have a complete formulation that the body can use.
So I guess the bottom line is, that mom wasn’t kidding or just being mean when she said “Eat your veggies” “You can’t have any dessert if you don’t eat you veggies!” Thanks mom!!