Many health and beauty products boast using antioxidants to fight free radicals. But just what are free radicals and why are antioxidants so important for maintaining your health?
Free radicals are unstable molecules that occur in the body from normal body processes as well as from exposure to toxins. Antioxidants are substances that lessen or neutralize these free radicals. In order to fully understand how antioxidants work, you need to know how normal molecules become free radicals.
As you may recall from high school science class, all cells are made of molecules, which are made of atoms. Atoms all contain neutrons, protons, electrons, and a nucleus, which is in the center of the atom. Electrons orbit the nucleus, which is important because a happy atom likes to have a balanced number of electrons. When it loses one, it becomes an unbalanced free radical. The free radical will attempt to attack a nearby molecule to steal an electron, thereby creating a new free radical. This creates a damaging cycle, which is where antioxidants step in. Learn more about toxicity and ways to cleanse your body by downloading my wellness guide at www.safedetox.org.
Antioxidants do not need a certain number of electrons to maintain stability, so they donate electrons to free radicals, stabilizing them once again and thus preventing and even reversing cellular and DNA damage.
Because some free radicals are a natural consequence of normal cellular actions, the body has ways of counteracting by creating necessary antioxidants to maintain balance and keep your cells healthy. Your cells have the ability to produce antioxidants by using a protein called Nrf2. Activation of Nrf2 triggers the production of our body's most important antioxidants. Fortunately, there are certain foods that also trigger the production of Nrf2, such as broccoli, turmeric, green tea, coffee, and resveratrol, a polyphenol found in red wine.
If there are not enough antioxidants to neutralize an excess of free radicals, cellular damage can occur. Including antioxidant-rich foods in your diet is an excellent way to boost your levels of this critical class of nutrients and enzymes.
Dr. Isaac Eliaz is a respected author, lecturer, researcher, product formulator, and clinical practitioner. He has been a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine since the early 1980s. Dr. Eliaz is a frequent guest lecturer on integrative medical approaches to health, immune enhancement, and cancer prevention and treatment. For more practical health advice, visit www.dreliaz.org.