Of course you’ve heard of free radicals, but you need to know more. I’m sure that my skin would look at least 10 years younger if only I’d paid more attention to free radicals in the past.
Free radicals are highly reactive and unstable molecules. They are made by the body naturally as a byproduct of normal metabolism. But, the body will also generate free radicals in response to environmental attacks, such as tobacco smoke, ultraviolet rays, air pollution, and some foods.
When this happens, there is likely to be a disastrous affect on lipids, proteins and DNA, and even worse, this process can cascade into a chain reaction, causing cellular damage and oxidative stress. This damage accelerates the aging process and precipitates disease. The effects of free radicals can trigger diseases including atherosclerosis, cancer, inflammatory joint disease, asthma, diabetes, dementia and degenerative eye diseases. Sadly, nearly everyone suffers the damages of free radicals.
Want more detail? Here’s a well done article from the Cleveland Clinic on this subject.
So what can you do to protect yourself? You can’t just pop a vitamin.
Antioxidants are substances found in plants that soak up free radicals like sponges and are believed to minimize free radical damage. If your body has plenty of antioxidants available, it can minimize the damage caused by free radicals. There is some evidence that we can only get the full antioxidant benefits from eating real plants and other foods. Supplements appear not to be as effective.
Looking for the best sources of antioxidants? Lots of good sources on the internet. Here’s a very in-depth article from Harvard School of Public Health giving the whats, the whys and a very complete list of antioxidant natural food sources.
We eat plenty of nuts, berries, avocados and drink green tea daily. Antioxidants are a top consideration in my diet, and I hope in yours as well. I’d love to hear from you.