Free Radicals: Destructive Scavengers and the Vital Role Antioxidants Play
Several years ago, it was all over the news. Free radicals were damaging – we all had them, and antioxidants were the solution. But what role really do free radicals play in damaging the body, and how are we supposed to best get rid of them? How do antioxidants work and what is the best way of adding them to our diet?
24 hours a day, while the body is constantly working, cells are metabolizing and creating energy as they carry out their tasks. This natural process results in free radicals, the same way driving to work in your car creates exhaust fumes. Some free radicals are natural byproducts of the ongoing workings of the body. Some are from environmental factors, such as pollution, radiation, and cigarette smoke.
A free radical is simply a molecule that is missing an electron. As soon as a molecule loses one of its attached electrons, it becomes unstable and seeks to re-stabilize itself by stealing an electron from the nearest molecule. This causes the attacked molecule to then become a free radical, and starts a chain reaction. Ultimately as the process continues this can lead to cell damage.
Free radicals become extremely damaging to the body as they steal electrons from your cells. They begin to spread like a wildfire through the years if your body does not have enough antioxidants to keep them in check. They can attack cell walls, get inside the cell, and cause damage to the DNA. This leads to cancer. Cancer is defined as a degenerative stress condition, and we can understand this better when we understand the role free radicals play.
The brain is the most active part of the body. It uses the most energy, and therefore is subject to bombardment with the most free radicals. The significance of this is not only that we feel negative effects in our mind – such as feeling tired and muddled – but also because brain is very important in its control of so many of the vital workings of our bodies.
When a free radical attacks, it can get into the cell and cause the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell, to die or cease to function fully. This can disrupt one of a multitude of processes. A dead or poorly functioning mitochondria in a cell can disrupt or slow down neuronal firing. Mental illness is largely due to imbalances in the neuronal processes of our natural brain chemistry. A poorly working or dead mitochondria can prevent certain natural functions from working, causing symptoms like hormonal imbalance.
Untreated, the damage from free radicals accumulates with age. They are the cause of many degenerative diseases, and are associated with many of the signs of the aging process.
Antioxidants are molecules loaded with extra free electrons. When we have enough antioxidants the free radicals get their electrons from the antioxidants in our body, rather than stealing them from our cells.
The body is naturally built to handle free radicals. Antioxidants are found in the vitamins A, C and E in the fruits and vegetables we eat. However even eating the 5-8 recommended servings a day, or using supplements still often does not do enough to combat the massive free radical damage.
Antioxidants from Vitamins E, C, and A actually pale in comparison to the phytonutrient antioxidants such as those found in red wine and blueberries. This is the reason for the French paradox, why it is being recommended to drink wine, eat chocolate, and drink green tea. They provide better sources of antioxidants.
There is an even better source: the newly discovered acai berry, of the Brazilian rainforest. It provides antioxidants in strengths 33 times more powerful than red wine. It floods the body with massive amounts of antioxidants and other essential nutrients. The acai berry is the number one ingredient for anti-aging recommended by Dr. Nicholas Perricone, in his book the Perricone Promise.
The acai berry can be best added to the diet in liquid form. A small dose of several ounces daily will flood the body with the vital antioxidants it needs. The acai berry is the best way to add to your diet the most powerful antioxidants combating free radical damage.