A visual example of free radicals that we have all seen is when you cut an apple, leave it laying out for a short time, and it turns brown! Free radicals at work!!
They are simple molecules with an electron missing. In an effort to become ‘whole’ again they seek out other chemical structures in our bodies from where they can steal an electron.
After they ‘acquire’ an electron the chemical structure/tissue from where they ‘stole’ that electron is left seriously damaged!
So the definition of free radicals, regarding the human body, are unstable oxygen molecules that can do damage to your cells, organs and body as a whole.
And it’s not as if free radicals mean to cause harm. They are basically unstable molecules looking to be stable again.
Each free radical is capable of destroying an enzyme, protein molecule or a complete cell. They can multiply by process of a chain reaction. These reactive substances can damage cell structures so badly that immunity is impaired and DNA codes are altered.
This process is called oxidation, much like what happens to that rusted nail or the cut apple. Similarly, if our cells are left unprotected, a similar process can occur inside the body, with imminent and progressive damage.
Free Radicals, Oxidative Damage and Related Health Conditions:
Sadly, this is only the tip of the iceberg of disease and health problems related to free radicals and oxidative stress. With over 1100 different families of free radicals known to exist today, the list grows and grows.
How do free radicals get into our bodies?
- From Within – as natural by-products of ongoing biochemical reactions occurring in normal metabolic functions, in the detoxification processes and in the immune system defense.
- From Outside – free radicals (better yet! – free radical generating substances) can be found in the food we eat, in our water supplies (especially after chemicals and pollutants have entered into them), toxic chemicals we walk on, rub past, breathe in, and touch, certain drugs and medicines we ingest and the air we breathe.
- Our environment contributes immensely to the spread of free radicals, as do processes like drugs, radiation, pesticides, air pollutants, solvents, fried foods, alcohol, tobacco smoke, etc. – All the things most of us are exposed to all the time.
Natural Solutions to Counteract the Damage of Free Radicals:
Some of the highest ranked antioxidant foods in four major categories are as follows:
Fruits: blueberries, cranberries, and blackberries.
Vegetables: beans, artichoke hearts, and surprisingly, russet potatoes.
Nuts: pecans, walnuts, and hazelnuts.
Spices: cinnamon, oregano, and ground cloves.
Keep in mind is that these are just a few example of hundreds upon hundreds foods and spices that are anti-oxidant rich. If you would like a larger list, here is a recommendation: http://modernsurvivalblog.com/health/high-orac-value-antioxidant-foods-top-100/
In general, keep these points in mind:
- So, since there are hundreds of foods and spices filled with anti-oxidants, consume a variety of foods that represent the rainbow. Choose produce of all colors. Experiement with as many spices as you can. With the most recommended amount of servings of vegetables being about 9 and fruits to be about 3 (be careful if you have been warned about sugar content in your diet, have a sugar/glucose related illness, Try various super green powder drinks because they contain more variety and a greater amount of antioxidant foods than most get in their diets: Bio Pharma’s NanoGreens; Amazing Grass products; Designs for Health Paleo Greens; others.
- One of the best ways of making sure that you are getting plenty of antioxidants in your diet is to strive to eat lots of fresh vegetables. If you just don’t have the time to eat a large green salad every day, consider buying a good juicer and drinking a fresh vegetable juice on a daily basis. Another more convenient option is to use a high quality super green food product.
- It is best to limit the amount of sweet fruits that you eat according to your dental health and blood sugar and insulin levels.
- When washing and preparing vegetables and fruits, be sure to wash non-organic varieties with extra care to help remove pesticide residues. This is especially important for vegetables and fruits that are known to be heavily contaminated with pesticides. One homemade recipe for washing produce is to
- 1 Cup water
- 1 Cup white vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon baking soda
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Combine all ingredients and put in a spray bottle. Spray produce with solution and let sit for 5 minutes. Rinse and enjoy.