What is Free Radical Damage?
A free radical is formed when a molecule within a cell in the body is left with an odd, unpaired electron after splitting. It then becomes unstable and tries to gain stability from the adjacent molecule – "stealing" its electron. Once this happens both molecules are free radicals, and so a chain reaction is started – ultimately leading to the stability of the cell being compromised – and the death of the living cell and damaged tissue.
What does Free Radical Damage do?
Free radicals aren’t always bad things – sometimes the body creates them during metabolism or the immune system uses them to fight an infection. A healthy body can handle free radicals, but if the immune system gets run down or weakened, or if you don’t have enough antioxidants in your system, damage can occur.
Environmental toxicity, pesticides and cigarette smoke can create free radicals. Ultimately free radical damage leads to aging and possibly some diseases too (their role in certain types of cancer, strokes, and heart disease is still being investigated).
How Can You Stop Free Radical Damage?
The best plan is to make sure you have enough antioxidants in your system – to stop oxidation of cells. Antioxidants are found in fresh foods like vegetables and fruits rich in Vitamin A, E, and beta-carotene. These molecules then stop free radicals from causing damage.
More Information on Free Radical Damage
Herbal and homeopathic remedies have been used for centuries to slow down the aging process and support cells and tissue. Aspalathus linearis (Rooibos) is an herb that has powerful antioxidant properties, mainly due to its superoxide dismutase mimetic properties – an enzyme in the body that is especially designed to neutralize free radicals as soon as they occur!
Camellia sinensis (Green tea) contains strong antioxidant and antibiotic properties. Grape seed extract is a naturally potent source of powerful antioxidants -Proanthocyanidins that support cell membranes – studies have shown this natural ingredient to deter free radical damage.
Tips to combat free radical damage:
- Try to eat a minimum of three portions of vegetables and at least two portions of fruit every day, including at least one citrus fruit – as citrus fruits contain a great source of antioxidants!
- A certain percentage of antioxidants are lost while cooking – so while you needn’t be extreme, try to eat raw fruit and vegetables as much as possible.
- Herbal teas contain great sources of antioxidants – but always purchase from a reputable source. Keep cells hydrated with lots of water too!
- Red wine can also help – only one glass a day is enough to give antioxidant benefit, so don’t exceed the limit.
- Nuts are also a good source of antioxidants – but don’t overdo portions, as the fat content cancels out health benefits!
- Always wear sunscreen to protect your skin against free radical damage and aging.
- Stop smoking and avoid second hand smoke inhalation, as this can lead to free radical creation within the body.