My gosh, the title of this article seems intimidating. Not to worry! We’re taking this journey together and I need it simple (I already have my share of free radicals) so making it easy for me will hopefully benefit you. First and most importantly, you need to know there is a direct relationship between free radicals, overweight, obesity, the ageing process and our overall health or lack of it – disease. Let’s get right to it.
We all have free radicals and antioxidants in our bodies. The amount of both and ratio between them is the important factor in our health and aging process. For the most part, free radicals are not good for us, although they are necessary for several body processes – so we can’t just eliminate them. Antioxidants are the body’s natural free radical control mechanism. That means if we control free radicals and increase antioxidants, we potentially reduce damage through aging and/or decrease chances and severity of diseases. Lets answer a few of the “5 W” questions.
Free Radicals – Simply put a free radical is nothing more than an atom or molecule with an odd number of electrons in its outer ring. Basic chemistry and physics tells us these types of atoms and molecules are “unstable”. To fix themselves, they go looking for their nearest stable buddy that they can steal an electron from. Unfortunately if that happens to be from a muscle tissue atom or some other important body part, then YOU suffer damage. Enough damage and you age faster than normal or your body becomes predisposed towards diseases like cancers, diabetes, etc.
Antioxidants – An alternative substance that has an “even” number of electrons in its outer ring. The best antioxidants are “easy to steal from”. If you make enough antioxidants (yes, your body does produce antioxidants) or you ingest enough AND make them available to our little free radical buddies, then our free radicals will be able to steal from our antioxidants instead of the atoms of our body cells.
So let’s put this together now and see how all this relates to health, aging, obesity and weight control. You probably guessed already that processed foods, fats, especially saturated are bad for us. Well one of the BIG reasons is that they come loaded with “free radicals”. If you’re thinking about some of the foods you’ve been eating and a light is beginning to brighten around free radicals – you’re right. The manufacturing processes for most of the foods in the centre aisles of our super markets destroy antioxidants in the product AND add loads of free radicals. In addition to skewing the ratio of free radicals and antioxidants when you eat these types of foods, you also gain weight. As you gain weight, your body’s metabolism slows down. Slower metabolism causes your body to produce fewer natural antioxidants! Wow! That is a vicious circle you do NOT want to get into.
So what can we do? Here it comes – the F and V words! Yes, Fruits and vegetables. They come loaded with antioxidants. Some more than others, but that’s for another article. NOW you know the reason your mom told you to eat fruit and vegetables. Although she may not have known about free radicals and antioxidants, she did know they were healthy for you. They come with LOADS of antioxidants which combat all those free radicals in your body. If you have the right levels of antioxidants, you reduce body cell damage (old age processes) and reduce your chances of diseases.
I know, you heard it before, but know you have the science behind the reason too. Your diet should include lean proteins, low glycemic index carbs, fruit and vegetables. Stay away from processed foods, especially “junk” foods. Fight those free radicals with good antioxidants. You can do it J
If you like this article, please link to me. You can click on one (or many) of the social network links displayed on this page. “Like” us on Facebook. Linking to this article from a forum is also very nice. Even better, mention this article in another blog or webpage!