Free Radicals are pesky little varmants that lurk everywhere waiting to get through our bodies defence systems. Once on the inside, they will damage our organs and our cells health, and cause premature ageing, sap our energy and stamina and whatever other damage they can manage in our immune system. In fact oxidative stress (stress from free radicals) is thought to contribute to the development of some heavy duty diseases and illnesses like cardiovascular disease, alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and neurodegeneration, so this is serious stuff. It is in effect like our bodies rusting away on the inside.
Where do the free radicals come from?
Even the air we breathe creates the free radicals in our bodies! As does excersize. And we should excersize. Free radicals come basically from too much oxygen. Yes, we need some, but too much is a bad thing, and have you tried living without oxygen?
Our bodies are well equipped though, nature knew we were going to have this fight on our hands, but most of us can’t keep up the defence long term. Our modern, western lifestyle doesn’t do us any favours in this respect.
We need extra help, enter our superhero – Antioxidants
Antioxidants are the free-radical inhibitors which prevent damage to our systems by oxidation. They include molecules like vitamins C and E as well as certain enzymes (you may of heard of superoxide dismutase?) or phenols . You can get antioxidants from many foods including grapes (particularly the seeds and the skin); berries, especially goji berries, acai berries, blueberries and blackberries but all edible berries are good; apples; cherries; pomegranates, tea including black, green and white teas; cacao nibs, garlic, and oregano. Organic fresh fruit and veg also contribute here as many have vitamin C, beta carotene or polyphenols. So consume these in plentiful amounts to aid your defence mechanisms.
If you feel your body may need some help there are so many supplements available, or the above foods specially formulated or concentrated to help boost our antioxidant intake. Take tea for example, you can get a green tea supplement which will concentrate the polyphenols from tea giving us meaningful amounts in a pill. More effective than the odd cup of rosy lee.
Do you need help?
We should all try and cosume foods rich in antioxidants, and as I have mentioned there are plenty around. But if you smoke or take an omega 3 supplement, if you have cardiovascular or dieabetes problems in your family you would be well advised to ensure your intake of antioxidants is abundant.