Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Health Update: The Truth about Free Radicals

If you're confused by all the talk about free radicals and antioxidants you're not alone. Technical terms, biological reactions, organic compounds… It's enough to confuse a scientist! You don't want jargon. You don't want hype. You want the facts. Well, here they are.

What Are Free Radicals?

Think back to your high school chemistry class. You may recall that at its most basic level, the human body is comprised of atoms. In addition to a nucleus, neutrons and protons, each atom has a pair of electrons orbiting around it. Because atoms constantly seek stability through paired electrons, it will often share its electrons with other atoms.

Sometimes, however, an electron breaks off. I'll tell you more about why in a moment. But what you're left with are two fragments, each containing unpaired, highly energized, highly unstable electrons. These are the infamous free radicals and they're looking to pair up with another electron. (Think singles bar.) And, they're not above breaking up another atom to get what they want. As you can imagine, this mayhem can cause a chain reaction of free radicals zipping around, bouncing into others, puncturing cell membranes, and wreaking havoc throughout your system, including your DNA.

Where do free radicals come from?

Free radicals are normal. They're the by-product of metabolism when you convert food into energy. So the good news is that, for the most part, your body knows how to deal with them. The bad news is that many of us have an excessive amount of free radicals – too many for our body to handle. The result? An overtaxed system that becomes vulnerable to a wide range of health concerns from daily annoyances, to accelerated aging, to major life-threatening problems.

While aging and stress can contribute to the creation of additional free radicals, other more avoidable sources include the American high-fat diet, chemically treated foods, pesticides, trans-fats, tobacco, refined sugar, and alcohol.

Antioxidants to the rescue

Although you can't eliminate free radicals from your body completely, you can stay a step ahead by adopting a healthier diet, avoiding harmful chemicals and by using antioxidants.

Free radicals want to pair off with another electron and they're not picky about where it comes from. Antioxidants are their willing partner. The free radicals lap up their extra electron like a drooling 6-year old eating an ice cream cone.

Many people who want to boost their immune system take antioxidant supplements, including Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and other immune boosters.

Armed with this knowledge, you too can now fight free radicals with my weapon of choice – antioxidants, and have a long, healthy life.


Anonymous said...
March 19, 2009 at 1:07 AM

Hi - I came to your site from BlogCatalog. I really love the site so far - lots of good advice, and I like your writing style. I also write a health and wellness blog, based on Seabuckthorn - I am a member of several healthy blogger communities - I don't know if you know about them?? If you drop by my blog you can see the widgets on the sidebar at right. They're worth joining, they have high-quality selections and I get traffic from them.

Also, do you have a MyBlogLog account? I would love to friend you there, and follow your blog - I am not as active on BlogCatalog. Could you look for me on MBL, or visit my pro through my site, so I can find you and add you?

Good luck, and happy blogging.

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