Free radicals are a part of everyday life! When out of balance, they can wreak havoc on your body!
Free radicals are a part of everyday life!
When out of balance, they can wreak havoc on your body!
Free radicals are highly unstable molecules that effect everyone.
Free radicals are highly unstable molecules that effect everyone—even if you are healthy! While they are a natural part of living, if not controlled they wreak havoc in your body.
Operating at the molecular level, they can compromise every system of your body, including the nervous, digestive, cardiovascular, immune, respiratory, and muscular systems.
An understanding of free radicals is essential for any person who intends to live in a way that will allow their body the opportunity to optimally support itself and live well.
Free radicals exist for less than one-millionth of a second and are the result of metabolic processes. We produce billions or even trillions every second! They are the output of living.
Normal molecule with paired electrons
Antioxidant with extra electrons
Free radical with missing electron
Free radicals occur naturally in the body when nutrients are broken down to create the energy that allows our bodies to function and when the immune system is responding to invaders. They are also generated by the body in response to environmental stressors, such as smoke, pollution, and UV rays.
Free radicals are like pinballs in your body that bounce around and cause damage to anything they come in contact with. More technically, they are atoms with one or more unpaired electron in their outer shell. These atoms are inherently unstable and cause damage when they steal electrons from other atoms.
Why Should You Be Concerned?
Free radicals effect every major network, system, and tissue in the body! Their influence is random, as is their effects. The greater number of free radicals created, the greater the chance of significant impact on the body!
Free radicals alter lipids, proteins, and DNA, which impact their ability to function normally.
Think about what happens when you slice open an apple—it turns brown. This happens due to the oxidation from free radicals. If you put lemon juice, an antioxidant, on the apple, it prevents oxidation from occurring–or the apple from turning brown. This same process happens in the body.
A balance between free radicals and antioxidants is necessary for proper physiological function.
If free radicals overwhelm the body’s ability to regulate them, a condition known as oxidative stress (excess free radicals) occurs.
When free radicals steal electrons from DNA molecules, they can cause the DNA molecules to mutate.
Free radicals can damage lipid components in the blood, which can initiate arterial plaque formation.
Free radicals can negatively affect proteins by altering their structure and compromising their function. This is dangerous because proteins serve as critical body enzymes.
Research suggests that free radical damage leads to the ageing process. Reducing free radicals or decreasing their rate of production may delay cellular ageing.
Free radicals are controlled by antioxidants, which naturally slow down the chain reaction that affects other molecules in the body. Antioxidant micronutrients are not produced by the body and must be supplied through diet or supplementation. Making sure to get an adequate amount of antioxidants every day can combat the effects of free radicals.
Antioxidants stop the chain reaction of free radicals but is 1:1. When a free radical steals an electron from an antioxidant, the antioxidant does not behave like a typical molecule and become a free radical itself. Rather it is slow to react and stops the damaging chain of free radicals.
Antioxidants will not cure diseases caused by free radical damage. Rather they reduce the amount of free radicals and therefore free radical damage.