With today’s hectic lifestyle and busy work schedule, people are finding ways to improve their overall health and wellness by taking supplements such as different food items and therapies that can help people and individuals achieve their health goals. It is no wonder then that people nowadays are identifying certain harmful elements that can cause adverse health effects. One of these harmful elements is called free radicals and they can cause a multitude of various negative health effects if they are not properly addressed and controlled. In this article, we will look at what free radicals are and how we can actually stop them from developing and wreaking havoc on our bodies.
What Are Free Radicals?
People nowadays are focused on losing weight and enhancing their overall health by improving the nutritional content of the food they eat and by lessening the toxic stress experienced by their bodies by avoiding harmful and processed foods. These foods may contain elevated amounts of sugar, salt and other harmful ingredients that can lead to increased blood sugar levels and the development of free radicals within the body. Free radicals are molecules with electrons that are unattached and therefore can cause serious bodily damage and harm if left unchecked.
One way to fight free radical build-up, aside from avoiding foods that are deemed unhealthy and processed is to increase the body’s intake of anti-oxidants. These antioxidants can help fight free radicals by combatting the negative effects of cellular deterioration through oxidative damage.
What Is Electron Shuffling?
It is important to understand the mechanism and the processes of why free radicals are so harmful to the human body. Something that is Oxidized means that it lost one of its electrons to other molecules while molecules that are “reduced” is those substances that have gained an electron from other molecules. This process of accepting and losing electrons is initiated by what is called an oxidizing agent. This oxidizing agent can take an electron away from a molecule putting the said electron out of place or at a loss. On the other hand, an oxidizing agent that has accepted an electron may transform into a free radical if their accepted electron does not effectively join or combine with other molecules. This, in turn, leads to cellular chaos or mess which can adversely affect our molecules and even our DNAs.
How Are Nutrients Metabolized and How Are Free Radicals Formed?
Our bodies burn fuel for energy through little factories called mitochondria. This is done through a process known as oxidative phosphorylation. This metabolic process initiates a mechanism or reaction at the cellular level where atoms either lose or take in electrons to achieve a more complete molecular structure. Atoms are mostly stable but those who do not complete their respective molecular structures will scour the body for possible electrons to complete its own molecular structure. This scouring of electrons usually results in successful atomic and molecular bonding. However, those electrons that remain free form free radicals that can cause all sorts of problems for the body.
Free radicals in acceptable amounts are not harmful per se as they aid the body in achieving important oxidation. However, an overabundance of free radicals and a build-up of the said biological compounds can cause unstable molecules to cause various imbalances in the body and the improper oxidation of cells leading to cellular damage and stress.
Free radicals are detrimental to cell development, survival, and growth and as these unstable molecular compounds are usually reactive, they tend to unnecessarily interact with the other parts or molecular components of the body leading to cell damage and eventual injury if left unchecked. Free radicals can also directly damage healthy cells and DNA leading to incorrect cell growth and mutations. As such, these mutations can encourage the development of some cancers and speed up the process of aging. Hence, free radicals are usually associated with the negative effects of aging such as the formation of wrinkles, development of type 2 diabetes and hardening of the arteries.
Food Items and Products To Avoid
There are a number of factors that should be considered to help the body limit or eliminate the development of free radicals within the body. One of them is overeating as eating more than the body can handle may result in the increased production of free radicals. This is because the mitochondria present in the body will produce more oxygen when individuals overeat making the body more prone to the oxidization stress brought about by free radicals. Certain types of foods and how they are prepared can have varying effects on the body in terms of the free radicals produced and taken in by an individual.
Listed below, however, are some of the things people can do to avoid and lessen the intake and production of free radicals:
- High glycemic foods and processed foods that are high in sugars and carbohydrates.
- Meat products that are processed such as hotdogs, salami, ham, sausages, and bacon.
- Red meat should also be lessened as this kind of meat are more susceptible to the process of oxidization due to its increased iron content.
- Cooking oils and fats should not be reused. Heating used fats and oils can promote and increase the chances of oxidation.
- Alcohol intake should also be limited. Alcoholic beverages are high caloric drinks and can promote the production of free radicals within our bodies. In fact, if one must really consume some form of alcoholic beverages such as beer, it is advisable to limit the intake to just one (1) to two (2) bottles per day.