Free radicals: what they are and how to fight them

Free radicals and oxidative stress have become a hot topic when it comes to longevity and health.They are molecules released by the body’s metabolism with highly unstable and reactive electrons that can cause degenerative diseases of aging and cell death. Free radicals can combine with other molecules in the body.

The damage caused by free radicals in the body is called “oxidation”:

  • High levels of oxidative stress affect every organ and system in the body and have been linked to diseases such as Alzheimer’s, arteriosclerosis, cancer up to heart disease, asthma, diabetes, premature aging and irritable bowel syndrome. Indeed, it is believed that oxidative stress is the cause of the development of the major chronic pathologies that today are fatal in adults.
  • Oxidation is the same process that causes the darkening of apples or the rusting of metal. Destructive free radicals react with the components in the body and oxidize them. The amount of oxidation in the body is the measurement term for oxidative stress.

Here are some of the functions of antioxidants:

  • Melatonin is an antioxidant related to the regulation of circadian rhythm (sleep / wake cycle)
  • L ‘ lipoic acid repairing essential enzymes in the organism
  • Even cholesterol can have antioxidant properties. Good cholesterol or HDL works by repairing damaged blood vessels and reducing oxidation. Then adding oxygen to the LDL or bad cholesterol stops the gradual growth of fatty plaques on the walls of the arteries (cause of arteriosclerosis) and keeps the blood flow that leads to the heart clean.
  • Our ability to produce antioxidants from within is reduced with age. The reason why antioxidants are often advertised as “anti-aging” is that they help protect us from aging-related diseases, caused in part by free radicals and inflammation.

How free radicals are produced

Endogenous factors

Free radicals are a physiological product of cellular metabolism . Among the endogenous factors responsible for their production are, for example:

  • aerobic energy production
  • fatty acid metabolism
  • phagocytic cell activity in response to infections.

Exogenous factors

Then there is a series of external factors that determine the production of free radicals. Between these:

  • air pollution
  • taking drugs, alcohol, medications
  • smoke
  • exposure to UV rays, radiation, chemicals or heavy metals , which can induce changes in the DNA sequence with mutagenic effects on cells.
  • Prolonged psycho-physical stress , also linked to intense physical activity: prolonged or too intense workouts, such as those of professional athletes, subject the body to high metabolic stress, causing an excessive production of free radicals that the body is not in able to dispose. This reduces performance, causes post-workout soreness, compromises recovery ability and triggers generalized inflammation.
  • how to cook food : barbecuing, as well as all cooking at very high temperatures, causes the formation of benzopyrene, a highly harmful hydrocarbon for health.

Leave a Comment