Our body is under constant attack from oxidative stress. According to the free radical theory of aging, as the body ages, its ability to protect itself from free radical damage decreases leading to more oxidative stress. This, in turn leads to more damage to cells affecting our skin and various organs of our body.
It is very important to understand the terms like “Free Radicals”, “Oxidation” & “Antioxidant”.
What are Free Radicals?
Free radicals are unstable molecules produced continuously in the body as a result of chemical reactions such as oxidation. They are unstable because they are missing an electron. When free radicals come into contact with other cells they can kill, damage or mutate those cells, which then become unstable themselves, setting off a cascading chain reaction within the body. Free radicals damage healthy cells (including muscle cells) by taking electrons from them in an effort to try to stabilize their own charge.
What is Oxidation?
Chemical reactions occur in the body when the body is digesting, breathing, producing energy, exercising, dealing with emotional stress and fighting off infection. They also occur when a person encounters pollutants, toxins or radiation, experiences sunburn, smokes or drinks alcohol. Many of these chemical reactions involve oxygen, which can lead to oxidative stress, also known as oxidation.Free Radicals and Oxidation: How do they affect our health?
Outside of the body, oxidation causes metal to rust and an apple to turn brown a few minutes after being cut and exposed to the oxygen in air. Inside the body, the use of oxygen for our cellular metabolism has a by-product. This by-product is waste in the form of high-energy reactive oxygen molecules known as free radicals. Even the most routine and necessary metabolic processes, such as digestion and breathing, produce these free radicals in the body.
Oxidation is also the process by which iron turns to rust, or more technically, iron oxide.
What are Antioxidants and its Benefits?
Oxidative stress resulting from the normal cellular oxidation process is counterbalanced in the body by naturally occurring molecules known as antioxidants.
Antioxidants help protect healthy cells from the harmful effects of free radicals. They work by interacting with and stabilizing free radical molecules by donating electrons to the unstable free radicals. Because oxidation is a naturally occurring process within the body, a balance must exist between free radicals and antioxidants in order for the body to maintain health.
Although the body naturally produces antioxidants to defend cells against free radicals, diet plays an integral role in cellular health as well. Proper nutrition can provide a host of beneficial antioxidants.
Antioxidants are present in a variety of foods, most commonly as vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, flavonoids and polyphenols. Eating foods that are high in antioxidants such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help support cellular health.
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