When I first asked the question, "Just exactly what are free radicals?" The answers I got were somewhat confusing and a little hard to understand.
I am going to do my best here to explain free radicals and oxidation as simply as possible.
Every moment, as we breathe in oxygen and our cells produce energy through our normal everyday living processes, molecules inside of our cells react with the oxygen we breathe in. This is called oxidative stress.
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It is exactly as oxygen reacting with certain metals (like on a car) producing rust. In fact, the scientific name for rust is oxidation.
That same “rust” (oxidation) happens in every single one our cells, as long as we breathe in oxygen. In other words, every moment of every day our cells our “rusting” (oxidating).
The oxidation also occurs through our normal everyday internal processes, such as metabolism and immune defense.
(Of course, this rusting or oxidation is known to us as "aging")
As these molecules within our cells react with the oxygen (oxidation) they become free radicals. So now this free radical molecule is a molecule that has at least one unpaired electron and is therefore very unstable and highly reactive.
The free radical (unstable molecule) now goes around the cell literally stealing electrons from other healthy molecules. Imagine, if you will, a small, yet powerful war going on in every one of your cells.
This is where antioxidants come in. An antioxidant is a natural biochemical substance that protects all your trillions of living cells from free radicals and the damage they cause. In fact, the word antioxidant literally means “against oxidation”.
Hopefully we have enough antioxidants to "fight off" the Free Radicals!
Unfortunately, free radicals are not just formed through breathing and other normal bodily processes, but we have many outside influences and factors that dramatically further produce free radicals in our cells. (stress, toxins, chemicals, etc.)
Then there are many things that deplete our antioxidant supply.(medication, cigarette smoke, Tylenol, etc.)
So, not only do we have more stresses in our life that create more free radicals than even just 30 years ago, but we have also become dependant on drugs, surgeries and medication that deplete our natural antioxidant supply.
Now, more than ever we need to eat antioxidant rich foods and take antioxidant supplements.
Free radicals in our cells are like little fires. Once a free radical is formed that “small fire” begins to grow just like a real fire.
If this fire is not put out by antioxidants then these fires cause serious damage to our cells, tissues, and then organs.
Free radicals will damage our cell membranes, enzymes, blood lipoprotein, unsaturated fatty acids in our cell membranes and even damage our chromosomes and DNA.
All of this damage will eventually lead to premature aging and disease.
Fortunately this can be prevented!
1) Limit your exposure to toxins and chemicals that create free radicals and reduce stress.
2) Eat foods high in antioxidants
3) Take antioxidant supplements, preferably ones helping your body to produce more glutathione (the master antioxidant)
Now that you better understand exactly what are free radicals, do you know which it the worst free radical?
It is called the hydroxyl radical. The hydroxyl radical is a very dangerous free radical.
It can damage virtually all types of our macromolecules, including: carbohydrates, nucleic acids (causing mutations), lipids (causing lipid peroxidation) and amino acids.
The only means to protect our important cellular structures is the use of the antioxidant, glutathione. Resveratrol cannot, acai juices will not, nor any other antioxidant except glutathione.
In other words, the only antioxidant that will destroy the most dangerous free radical is the most powerful antioxidant, which is none other than, glutathione.
You can learn more about glutathione here: What is glutathione?
Go here to see the Glutathione Enhancers Recommended by Amazing Glutathione
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