Radicals are everywhere - creating danger to our health and well-being. But they aren't the kind of radicals that get talked about on the news.
I'm talking about free radicals - invisible molecules in our bodies that are unstable. These molecules are a natural byproduct of energy production - released when the oxygen we breathe interacts with the food we eat during metabolism. Even though they are natural, they are also dangerous. They need an extra electron to become stable and they are drawn to anything in our cells that will bind with them and donate one. They bind to, and damage, our cell walls, fats, proteins, or DNA - leading to chain reactions that cause premature aging. Fortunately, many of them are neutralized by antioxidants. Antioxidants bind with free radicals and keep them from doing so much damage.
Vitamin C is one well-known antioxidant. Have you ever cut a piece of fruit and seen it turn brown - or prevented it from turning brown with a little lemon juice? The lemon juice is a source of Vitamin C, a weak acid that binds easily to oxygen and prevents it from interacting with compounds in the plant. Vitamin C does the same thing in our bodies.
We get antioxidants from our diets and our bodies also make their own. The problem is, we make many more free radicals than we can neutralize (an estimated 372 quadrillion a day!), and over time that leads to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is the gap between the number of free radicals that we make, and the number that we are able to effectively neutralize. If you were to open PubMed (the online database for the National Library of Medicine) and search on oxidative stress, you would find more than 150,000 research articles linking oxidative stress to premature aging as well as many diseases and disorders.
So, how do we keep ourselves safe from free radicals and all the problems that they cause?
Here are three ways:
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables — Nutrition experts recommend a MINIMUM of 5 servings (1/2 cup each) and ideal is more like 9 to 13. They should be lots of different colors. These contain antioxidants like vitamin C, as well as substances that stimulate your body's production of additional antioxidants.
- Avoid additional sources of free radicals - Cigarette smoke, pollution, sunlight and other radiation, and toxins in food and water create additional free radicals.
- Consider additional supplements that stimulate your own antioxidant production - Compounds in food and other plants stimulate our bodies to make more antioxidant enzymes llike glutathione and superoxide dismutase through a process called Nrf2 Activation. For a more detailed description of this, read my recent blog - "How to Boost Your Body's Healing Power". I am an independent distributor for a biotech company that makes nutrigenomic products -- one of which is a Nrf2 Activator. This product has been clinically proven to reduce free radical damage by 40% in 30 days by increasing antioxidant enzymes. If you would like to learn more about this product, please contact me.
What about you? What are you doing to counteract free-radical damage? Please share your experience in the comments below!