Bodily Warfare – Free Radicals and Antioxidants

Bodily Warfare – Free Radicals and Antioxidants

Free Radicals and Antioxidants Are At War In Your Body

There is constant warfare going on in our bodies, between free radicals and antioxidants. The winner impacts aging and health.

Most of us have heard of them, and most of us either have little understanding of them, or if we do understand them, know what to do about them.

I know I went through a period when I first started learning about antioxidants and free radicals where I went to my local health food store and Warfare of Free Radicals and Antioxidants

bought product after product, to build up my immune defenses against future heart problems, cancer and other diseases.

Have you done that?

 

I quickly learned I could not healthily consume enough red wine to get what I read I need, nor eat enough wild blueberries. So much information is out there, and most of it is designed to sell one product or another.

My intent here is to give some facts about free radicals and antioxidants.

And then to let you know the best ideas to make sure you are helping to win this war in your own body.

Winning the War Against Excess Free RadicalsIt Is a War Worth Winning!

Free radicals are formed as a byproduct of natural cell function. If that were the only source of free radicals, we would not have the challenge of getting enough antioxidants for healthy bodies.

However, we have many other sources that produce free radicals in our lives.  Pollution in the environment, and from smoking, and radiation produce free radicals.

Even excessive exercise can result in more of them. Free radicals are a byproduct of many medications and treatments, especially radiation.

What excessive free radicals do is to interfere with normal cell function and growth. They have been linked to increased cancer rates and heart disease and are believed to cause premature aging. In causing damage to healthy cells, they cause inflammation which may lead to cancer.

There is still a lot of study going on, and more and more information is being gained. The evidence seems to say very strongly that fighting excessive free radicals is a war worth winning.

What is free radicalWhere Free Radicals Come From

Remember back when you learned about cells, and how they are composed of neutrons, protons and electrons? In normal cell function, the outer layer of each cell seeks to join with or share electrons with other cells, so that each has 8 electrons in its outer shell.

Sometimes, instead, a molecule can be formed that has an unpaired odd electron of a weak bond that can split.

Then free radicals are formed, that are not stable and react quickly with other molecular structures to try to steal the electron it needs to become stable again.

Then a chain reaction begins, because the molecule that lost its electron then becomes a new free radical and steals, and so forth.

The final result can be total destruction of the cell.

best antioxidant foods to fight agingAntioxidants are the Primary Weapon in This War

Antioxidants are stable when they lose an electron. They scavenge around in the body, seeking out the free radicals and donate electrons to them, without becoming a new free radical.

They are the ninja warriors against premature aging and inflammation.

Vitamin E, which is fat-soluble, and Vitamin C, which is water-soluble, are the two most effective antioxidants found in the body. There are others.  Water itself is an antioxidant.

The very best source for antioxidants is eating correctly, not by taking supplements. There are some indications from research that supplements may even cause harm for most people.

There are a few whose ailments may call for a need for a supplement, and it is best to review your needs beyond a normal diet with your doctor. There is no conclusive research yet on optimal levels.

Chocolate antioxidantHooray! Chocolate is Good For You!

It is generally recommended that you obtain them from a diet containing 5 – 8 servings a day of foods high in antioxidants.

These are generally the foods with bright colors, like leafy greens, spinach, red and purple and wild blue berries, sweet potatoes, wild-caught red salmon, as well as pecans and cooked artichoke hearts.

Chocolate is on the list of foods high in antioxidants! The darker the better, so aim for 70% cocoa, not milk chocolate. It is not the sugar in the candy or cocoa, but the cocoa that is what is good for you.

real Chinese cinnamonThere are herbs and spices that have high levels of antioxidants, so it is good to learn to use them in your cooking. Here is a list from the highest on down for cooking additives that will help raise your antioxidant levels:

  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon
  • Oregano
  • Turmeric
  • Cocoa
  • Cumin
  • Parsley
  • Basil
  • Ginger
  • Thyme
  • Garlic
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Green Tea

Other Allies in This Warfare

There are other allies found in a healthy diet that help in this war against excessive levels of free radicals. Many of them are found in these same foods.

WATER- a hugely important part.  Drinking 8-12 8 oz glasses of water is widely advised.  We know what is needed.

Do you have trouble drinking enough?  Check out this post for really efficient ingestion of water to help fight free radicals.

sources for chlorophyll alkalinityChlorophyll helps cleanse and regenerate the body at the cellular level. It is known to

  • fight infection and help heal wounds.
  • help our bodies at the molecular and cellular level
  • help cleanse the body
  • aids operation of healthy bodily systems like circulation and digestion
  • boost immunity.

Chlorophyll accomplishes these benefits with magnesium that is at its core, that alkalizes our bodies. You find chlorophyll in green leafy vegetables.

Magnesium is the part of a plant that is involved in photosynthesis, and it is also involved in over 300 human bodily functions.  It is so important that we have a whole blog on magnesium.

It can also be found in shrimp, sunflower seeds and almonds.

Probiotics and Prebiotics and Digestive Enzymes

These are different, and both aid good digestion. Both come from raw foods, and are destroyed by heat.

Probiotics and prebiotics are living bacteria that are good for you.

Digestive enzymes are not living, but are active. They break down food into nutrients that can be absorbed by the body. They are made in the body, and also come from raw foods.

Probiotics are not made in the body. They come from outside, and get destroyed by antibiotics. They are found in raw fermented foods, like yogurt, sauerkraut and even sourdough bread.

Prebiotics are carbohydrates that do not get digested by the body, and serve as food for probiotics. Sources are oatmeal, asparagus and legumes.

Healthy Eating for best Macro Diet with AntioxidantsSupplements Are Not a Replacement for Healthy Eating

There are times when supplements can be a good thing.

But taking supplements is not a healthy substitute for eating a varied and balanced diet. It can be challenging eating enough fruits and vegetables, especially at breakfast time.

There are some good green superfoods that you can use for that.

There is evidence that taking antioxidant supplements is not the best approach to getting the proper nutrition. I am not suggesting here adding vitamin A, C or E supplements. However, having a powdered concentrated form of greens for part of your day may be a good way to get enough servings.

Taking a probiotic and/or digestive enzyme supplement can add to your digestive health, enhancing maximal absorption of nutrients.

question on antioxidants and free radicalsWhat has been your experience with alkalizing your body? Do you take supplements? If so, what ones, and why?

Share your experiences with us please.

You may have information that will help all of our readers pursue their most healthy and creative lives. Thanks!

free radicals and antioxidants

 

 

 

 

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Published by Annie Collyer

Annie is a mom of four, a business owner and blogger. She and her husband live in New Hampshire, where they are both active volunteers in their community school district. She writes about designing our lives with proven design thinking principles. Join her in creating the life we each want.

  • Ramona says:

    Hi Annie:

    Great article on antioxidants. I have been following a nutrition and natural lifestyle for years and I am definitely healthier than most of my contemporaries.

    You were asking what I do to alkalize my body. First of all, I stay away from all kinds of refined sugar and anything that that has wheat in it. I will also from time to time drink some diluted apple cider vinegar making sure that I sip it through a straw so there is minimal contact of the vinegar with my teeth. That’s about it!

    Ramona

    • Hi Ramona, So great to hear how you pursue a healthy lifestyle.  Refined sugars and other refined foods do almost nothing for you except satisfy a sweet tooth and give a temporary belly fill.  Do you have a wheat sensitivity?  Apple cider vinegar, amazingly enough, alkalinizes our bodies!  A little goes a long way.  For me, I prefer it in a salad dressing with avocado oil because I do not enjoy it diluted with water.  I use it with chicken chunks with some avocado oil, pepper, salt and some horseradish and mashed avocado with lettuce as a great-tasting salad for lunch.  Sound good?

  • Elizabeth says:

    Great post about shedding light on how great antioxidants are and are definitely needed in every day consumption. 

    In regards to supplementation I take an all natural Vitamin D3 tablet in the morning and Magnesium before I go to bed. These are the 2 that are lacking in foods or you cannot get the sufficient amount in foods therefor supplementation is needed. 

    To answer the alkaline question, I drink warm water with lemon first thing in the morning and sometimes will have diluted apple cider vinegar, but I usually use that for salads. 

    I truly hope many people read this and gain some knowledge about how powerful greens, probiotics and prebiotics are in life, especially to combat the free radicals all around is. Thank you again!

    • Thank you for this comment, Elizabeth.  It is great that you take such good care of yourself.

      You are absolutely correct about magnesium and vitamin D3 being deficient for most people.  Your doctor can easily test your D3 levels with your annual blood test to see if you are one.  With magnesium, blood tests are much trickier and not very reliable.  A lot of diagnosing any deficiency is symptomatic.  

  • Brittaney Verkuyl says:

    I knew healthy eating was a strong part of a healthy body, this gives a whole new meaning to that. I knew that we are all made of molecules, but to think that we are causing our bodies to go out of control with free radicles is crazy. Another lesson learned for me. I really need to get more bright veggies into my diet.

    • Hi Brittaney, Thank you for visiting and for sharing the impact this information has on you. Truth be told, there are very few of us who don’t need to eat more veggies. I take veggies in my omelets (onions, peppers, spinach along with hot turkey sausage is one of my favs!), have greens at lunch and 2 cups of veggies at dinner, and guess what…I still use a GreenSuperfood. I like Patriot Greens for ingredients and flavor. Check them out for yourself.
      Annie

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