A Note on Free Radicals
A couple of days ago I was with some friends in a coffee shop together with some new acquaintances of theirs, and the conversation went from music all of a sudden to health and in the conversation free radicals were mentioned and this couple just looked at each other, and I saw in their faces that they did not have a clue about the meaning of Free Radicals.
I know that just hearing “free radicals” in whatever you’re talking about for the first time sounds like some sort of political movement gathering against the system or some terrorist group just waiting for the right moment to strike and do some harm to prove something or to contest a point.
In a way it´s more or less like that, but unfortunately, free radicals make their damage within our body.
Today we have the understanding at how they form and develop and we also have the means fight against them.
Free Radicals Explained
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- There is a group of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes called antioxidants that help protect our body from the formation of free radicals.
- Antioxidants are found in fresh foods like vegetables and fruits, particularly in vitamins found in these foods, including A, C, E, and beta-carotene. These antioxidants are also scavengers, eating up the free radical damaging particles.
- Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms that can cause damage to cells, weakening our immune system that could lead to infections and various diseases. Free Radicals play a key role in several biological processes within our body.
- They play an important part in the work of the white blood cells which kills bacteria and other pathogens in our system. This is the good. The bad is when Free Radicals are formed in great numbers due to diet, environment and various exposures.
- Exposure to pollution, cigarette smoke, and strong sunlight can increase the formation of free radicals. They may be formed by exposure to radiation and toxic chemicals, or through the action of various metabolic processes, such as the use of stored fat molecules for energy.
- A diet that is high in fat can increase free radical activity. Cooking fats at high temperatures, particularly frying foods in oil, can produce high numbers of free radicals.
- Free radicals are free because they drift around until they stabilize, and radical in a way that there is a wide diversity of molecules from which they can steel an electron.
- As the new molecule, a piece of a cell membrane is now also missing an electron and has become another free radical. Changes in protein structure can occur as a result of errors in protein synthesis.
- The formation of free radicals can also lead to retention of fluid in the cells, which is involved in the aging process. This domino effect can wreak havoc on healthy tissue.