What Are Antioxidants and Why Do We Need Them?
Every magazine article and tv commercial speaks about antioxidants and their seemingly miracle-working qualities. What are antioxidants really capable of and why do we need them? We take a little closer look.
Atoms, which make up molecules, are at the center stage of every chemical reaction that takes place within the body. To undertake ordinary chemical reactions, molecules should have a balanced charge. Balance in the molecules means everything is running smoothly, which translates to good health. The trouble begins when some atoms acquire an extra negative charge, transforming them into free radicals.
The free radicals roam the body looking for a balanced atom they can snatch an electron from to balance their charge. This solves the atom’s problems but creates another unbalanced molecule (free radical). As the free radicals increase in the body, many issues start to occur, including unhealthy chemical reactions and uncoordinated body functions. The resulting chemical stress can lead to diseases such as cancer, arthritis, respiratory and heart diseases. As long as there are free radicals in the body, the chain reaction continues, causing more chemical imbalances.
The damage caused by free radicals is known as oxidative stress. To counteract the oxidative stress, you require antioxidants. These are atoms whose work is to give the radical atoms the electrons they need to balance the charge. When there are enough antioxidants in the body, free radicals do not need to steal atoms from other atoms, breaking the chain.
Antioxidants that give away their electrons become oxidized so the radical molecules can gain balance and stop damaging the cells. Their mission is to find free radicals and prevent the reaction and formation of new radicals.
The key to chemical reactions is that they take place in the atoms, the core or foundation of the cells that make up the body organs. If the chemical reactions are altered in the cells, the entire body will react differently.
Origin of Free Radicals
Inhaling pesticides, household cleaners, smoking, radiation, alcohol consumption and exposure to industrial waste can expose you to free radicals. Processed foods, sugary foods, some medications, and emotional stress may raise the levels of free radicals in the body. This means that you need to take care of your diet, understand the chemical composition of prescribed drugs and steer away from radiation therapy if possible.
To ensure the body’s supply of antioxidants outnumber the free radicals, limit chemical exposure and consume foods high in vitamins and minerals. In fact, we recommend that you fill your plate with all colors of food. This ensures you get all the required nutrients to fight off the free radicals.
How do you get more antioxidant power?
Diet is one of the most important considerations. As you will realize, you cannot prevent the total formation of free radicals or oxidation because these are some of the byproducts of the body processes. Supplements and foods rich in minerals and vitamins are vital in achieving the optimal power to clean the body and stay healthy. Vitamin C is one of the vital nutrients required for this process.
To boost the protective power, you should make a conscious decision to eat foods high in antioxidant power. These include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. It is important to note that how you prepare your meals can preserve or destroy their potency or ability to fight off destructive elements in the body. Deep frying food leads to oxidation and breakdown of nutrients and so does overcooking. Cooking over low heat ensures all the nutrients stay intact.
Stick to a healthy diet and ensure you include foods rich in Vitamin C, A, E, lutein, flavonoids, selenium, and lignan. As noted earlier, vitamin C is the best antioxidant, so make sure you eat foods rich in the vitamin, such as citrus fruits, strawberries, and green leafy vegetables.
If you are worried about oxidation effects on your body, find solace in the fact that most bodily organs have a natural way of protecting themselves from this dangerous process. They can produce chemicals to fight oxidation and protect their cells from free radical damage. Being aware of the effects free radicals can have on your body can help you make better diet and lifestyle choices.
If you have questions about antioxidants in your body, contact our office today!