Every single day, our bodies face up to 73,000 attacks from free radicals. These unstable molecules might be the root cause of many diseases. But what are they, and how do they impact our health?
At a chemical level, substances are usually composed of atoms and molecules that carry pairs of electrons for stability. However, sometimes an atom or molecule will have just one electron. This is what we call a “free radical.”
Free radicals have become a hot topic in the medical community today, as their influence seems to be everywhere, impacting our daily health and lifestyle. Chemically speaking, atoms or molecules should ideally carry paired electrons. But free radicals are unstable and will attempt to snatch an electron from other molecules to stabilize themselves. This creates a domino effect known as “oxidation.”
Within our bodies, processes like metabolism, cell growth, and cell death all produce free radicals. Other factors, such as stress, anxiety, and lifestyle habits, can also increase their presence. Research has shown that free radicals might be linked to diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. However, not all free radicals are harmful. They can also play a role in defending our body against foreign substances and bacteria when we’re injured or infected.
One of the visible impacts of free radicals is on our skin. They can destroy collagen, a vital component of our skin responsible for its firmness and elasticity, leading to premature aging. By using antioxidant-rich products externally, we can fight off these free radicals more effectively.
Antioxidants are the heroes that help neutralize free radicals, offering protection to our cells. Here are some foods rich in antioxidants:
Fruits: Blueberries, strawberries, cherries, citrus fruits, apples, grapes, and more.
Vegetables: Dark green veggies, cruciferous vegetables, carrots, tomatoes, and watermelon.
Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, cashews, pine nuts, among others.
Grains: Oats, brown rice, and whole wheat products.
To reduce the influence of free radicals, consider these tips:
Maintain a healthy lifestyle by avoiding smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and staying up late.
Engage in regular exercise and maintain a healthy weight.
Manage your stress levels and keep a positive mindset.
Here are some simple lifestyle recommendations:
Consume at least five portions of fruits and vegetables daily, with at least two being dark green vegetables.
Eat fish twice a week, especially those rich in omega-3, such as salmon, mackerel, and herring.
Opt for whole grains over refined grains.
Engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week.
Maintain an ideal weight.
Learn stress management techniques.
By embracing a healthy lifestyle, consuming antioxidant-rich foods, avoiding smoking, and staying positive, we can mitigate the impact of free radicals on our health.