Antioxidants & Free Radicals
Free Radicals are unstable molecules created by outside factors of pollution, cigarette smoke, radiation, environmental chemicals, car exhaust, industrial fumes, harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun, stress, fats and red meat.
Example, when you inhale polluted air or second-hand cigarette smoke and a free radical oxidizes one molecule in your body (oxidation, similar to what happens to that rusted nail or the cut apple), the molecule becomes unstable by losing an electron and your cells are now left unprotected.
The unhealthy free radical molecule tries to stabilize by "cannibalizing" the lost electron from a healthy molecule, which in turn becomes an unhealthy molecule free radical and steals an electron from a healthy molecule, which sets off a monumental molecule chain reaction indefinitely, until something squelches it! This results in the disruption of a living cell, tissue damage to the skin and collagen, spreading wrinkling causing pre-mature aging and hardening of your blood vessels. A myriad of diseases, led by heart disease and cancer. Each free radical is capable of destroying an enzyme, protein molecule or a complete cell.
Antioxidants vitamin C & bioflavonoids, vitamin E and A with beta-carotene prevent and squelch this free radical molecule chain reaction.
Minerals selenium and zinc, Herbs & Spices ginkgo, hawthorn, rosemary , sage, caraway, cumin, thyme & clove. Garlic, onion & shallots. Olive Oil, Green Tea, Oat & Wheat Bran are potent antioxidants and protect against free radicals.
Vitamin C, is the most powerful of all the antioxidants, destroying 100 percent of the radicals at the cellular level before they enter your cells. As soon as vitamin C is exhausted, free radical damage starts immediately.
Vitamin C is water-soluble and doesn't store in your body. It's readily excreted from the body and lost when you sweat, urinate, etc. The body doesn't have the ability to make it's own vitamin C, it is only acquired through diet. Because vitamin C is not readily stored, consistent daily intake and replenishment is essential..
Foods with high antioxidant vitamin C: Citrus fruits, Red & green bell peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, rose hips, green vegetables, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower strawberries, spinach, cabbage, cantaloupe and other fruits. Vitamin C supplements in the powder or crystal form are best assimilated into the body.
Bioflavonoids associated with vitamin C are a potent antioxidant that helps to slow down the aging process by preventing cellular damage caused by free radicals.
Foods in high antioxidant bioflavonoids: Fruits and vegetables to include, apricots, blackberries, black currants, broccoli, cantaloupes, cherries, grapefruits, grapes, oranges, lemons, and green leafy vegetables green collard and kale.
Vitamin E: When vitamin C is exhausted and the radicals get into the cell, Vitamin E to the rescue, essential in protecting cell membranes, intercepts one of these chains and the reaction will stop right where it is.
Vitamin E is found in whole grains, wheat germ, nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables and vegetable oils, legumes, water cress, soybeans, sweet potatoes, milk, oatmeal.
Selenium a trace mineral is a significant antioxidant and works with vitamin E to prevent free radical damage.
Foods containing antioxidant selenium: Brewer's yeast, wheat germ, brown rice, whole grains, brazil nuts, broccoli, garlic, onions, salmon, seafood, tuna, chicken and organ meats
Beta-carotene associated with vitamin A is linked to lower rates of certain cancers (lung cancer). Beta-carotene can seek out and quench the free radical "singlet oxygen" linked to sunlight sensitive diseases, like skin cancer.
Beta-carotene is found in dark orange fruits and vegetables and green leafy vegetables.
Antioxidants squelch free radicals by providing the missing electron they are seeking, eliminating the need to cannibalize one from the healthy molecules.
Eat plenty of Fruits, Vegetables, Berries, Nuts, Seeds, & Whole Grains
The Food Pharmacy Guide to Good Eating, Jean Carper: