The best description for how Free Radicals damage your body is to think of it as rusting from the inside out!
We are continuing on in our series “Why do we age, get sick and get diseases”. The third part to this is understanding the free radical theory of aging and the importance of antioxidants.
So how do these free radicals rust out your cells? Simply put they “oxidize” you. So if you put a piece of metal outside all winter in the rain by spring it would begin to rust because of “oxidation”.
Basically a free radical is a molecule that is missing a neuron; it is a reactive element that then steals this neuron from healthy cells thru a process called oxidation. Once a free-radical reaction is started, it causes a chain reaction which in turn will destroy thousands of cells. The brain tissue of neurodegenerative diseases are riddled with free radical damage
Minimizing Free Radicals
So how do we minimize these guys? First we need to identify where they are coming from and lower our exposure. Pesticides, herbicides, food additives, bad fats (fried foods), chlorine, fluoride, food coloring, chemicals found in our skin care products, carpets, new furniture and the air we breath are just a few. Those are “external” sources of free radicals. Internally we make free radicals when we exercise and metabolism increases as well as when we are fighting a virus or infection. So as you can see, there is no escaping them but we can minimize exposure.
Now, on to protection and annihilation!
Antioxidants found in fresh, minimally processed foods are helpful to your health because they are able to provide the electrons that free radicals want. Once free radicals are neutralized by antioxidants, they become harmless, and are eventually eliminated from your body! Think colorful fruits and vegetables. The more color the higher the level of antioxidants.
The American Cancer Society recommends 5-7 servings a day of colorful fruits and vegetables. This is quite a challenge for most people (myself included!). What are the two most common fruits eaten in the U.S.??? Apples and bananas, neither have much in the way of antioxidants (the flesh is white).
Let’s slow down aging and disease in 2017!!