You would have seen me mention them in quite a few of my blogs, so todays blog is about explaining what they actually are and why its important to give our bodies the best opportunity in fighting them.
The definition of free radicals is ‘an uncharged molecule (typically highly reactive and short-lived) having an unpaired valency electron’. Sounds confusing, but let me try explain it in a more simple terms.
Free radicals are unstable molecules, they are unstable because they only contain one electron. Electrons are meant to be in pairs…So the free radicals go around our bodies searching for an electron they can steal. Once they steal an electron from one of the cells in our bodies that cell is unable to function correctly.
Free radicals are produced naturally in our bodies as byproducts of vital functions such as breathing, metabolising food and so on. When we expose ourselves to chemicals, pollution, alcohol, smoking and unhealthy foods this can speed up their production. Free radicals cause harm to our bodies by causing ageing and damage to our DNA.
The damage done to our bodies by the free radicals is called oxidation. When the levels of free radicals are high in our bodies, they go around our body causing oxidative stress. When we have high levels of oxidative stress this can lead to disease in our bodies. Quote : 'Oxidative stress is believed to lead to the development of the most prevalent chronic diseases and disorders killing adults today, especially heart disease, cancer and diabetes.'
What can we do to tackle the free radicals? Antioxidants…
When our bodies have a good level of antioxidants from the foods we eat or supplements we take, our bodies are able to balance the free radicals. Antioxidants ‘donate’ an electron to the free radicals which in turn calms them down and stops them from stealing it from another cell in our body. We can help our bodies fight these free radicals by exposing ourselves to less environmental pollutants, reducing stress, and by eating a healthy diet with a wide variety of nutrients.