The beauty and health industries have buzzed about free radicals for years. Supplements, diets, anti-aging creams and hundreds of products have claimed to help you fight against the damages caused by free radicals. Unfortunately, many people hear the buzz words but don’t have any idea of what free radicals are.
Free Radicals Explained
Our bodies use oxygen to function. We breathe the life-giving molecules into our lungs and exhale carbon dioxide. Plants do the reverse order taking in the carbon dioxide to release oxygen for our consumption. This happens without most of us consciously thinking about it. However, those oxygen molecules we breathe in are really two linked oxygen atoms that split apart when in the body. Oxidative stress happens when the split oxygen atoms search for a partner to lend them another electron. The electron-seeking oxygen atoms can wreak havoc throughout the body damaging DNA, proteins and cells. It is fascinating science and you can learn more about free radicals from healthcare innovator Harry Stylli.
Free Radical Availability
Free radicals are generated everywhere from the air we breathe to the food and water that nourish our bodies. Even medicines can create free radicals. Air pollutants, alcohol, pesticides, fried foods and tobacco smoke are common sources of free radicals. Even metabolism results in free radicals. Eating a healthy diet can help combat the build-up of free radicals in the body that cause oxidative stress.
Effects on Health
In addition to being linked to aging, free radicals have been associated with human diseases. Many of these diseases affected by long-term free radical damage include Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, Parkinson’s disease and atherosclerosis. Not all free radicals are dangerous though. The immune system enlists free radicals to combat illness when foreign invaders attack the system. The natural chain reaction is essential for life, but when built up in the body, free radicals can cause more harm than good.
Combating Free Radicals
Antioxidants have long been touted as the saviors to combating free radicals. Beauty regimens tout the age-fighting benefits of Vitamin C and E. These antioxidants donate one of their free electrons to bond with the electron-seeking oxygen atom floating around. The process stabilizes the oxygen atom ending the chain reaction of damage caused by the free radical. As we age, our amount of free radical damage naturally increases. Drinking water when eating fruits with Vitamin C helps in its absorption. Fat-soluble Vitamin E should be consumed with healthy fats such as fish oil and olive oil.
Continuing Scientific Research
The science is slowly changing around free radicals. For over forty years, the prevailing consensus was that free radicals and oxidative stress caused aging, but new research suggests that a moderate amount of oxidative stress may be essential to a longer life. More research needs to be conducted to further understand how the body uses and reacts to free radicals.
Free radicals are here to stay. As the byproducts of chemical reactions, the body needs them to ward off foreign invaders and metabolize foods. Testing for free radicals can help determine if they are built up in the body and provide a way for you to healthily deal with them.