Free Radicals and The Damage They Cause
“There is overwhelming evidence that oxidative stress (free radical damage) and disease are linked.”
—Lester Packer, Ph.D
When you notice rust on something like a car fender, lawn furniture , the gas meter on the outside of your house- anything made of metal – what thoughts go through your mind? Would you buy a rusting car? Sit in a rusty lawn chair without thinking it may collapse? Rust is sometimes associated with age and deterioration. Loss of functionality. Loss of aesthetic beauty. All t is really is the interaction of oxygen with the metal molecules. This is technically called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is also what happens to our body’s cells, tissues and organs over time due to exposure to reactive oxygen molecules. We can figuratively rust on the inside. The culprits all called free radicals and we do have built in systems to neutralize them.
What is a Free Radical?
Free radicals are destructive agents found in the cells and tissues throughout the body. Super Oxide is the most abundant free radical and the “mother” of other free radical agents that circulate in our body. They are incomplete, unstable atoms in search of an electron to complete them and make them stable. They care not where they get the electron from. They steal them from healthy cells leaving behind a weakened, damaged cell. Think of them as a pick-pocket bumping into someone – stealing their wallet without concern for the well being of the victim they leave behind.
Free radicals can damage cell walls and the DNA structure in the cell nucleus. In this way they are responsible for cell death, cell mutation and premature aging. Researchers suspect they are involved in degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancers and arthritis. They oxidize otherwise healthy tissue. Plaque buildup in the walls of blood vessels is the result of oxidation of cholesterol.
Free radicals contribute to these:
Aging, Heart disease, Cancer, Inflammatory-immune injuries, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Diabetes, AIDS, Lupus, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue syndrome and more.
Dr. Bruce Ames of the University of California of Berkeley estimates that each cell in our body is attacked by free radicals 100,000 times per day.
Where do they come from?
Free radicals form as a result of normal processes such as breathing, digestion and cellular metabolism. The immune system uses free radical formation and action to attack and destroy disease causing bacteria and viruses in much the same way they cause the damage and death of healthy cells when they are in the body in too large a number. The most abundant free radical in the body is called superoxide.
Free radicals also form when we are exposed to synthetic chemicals such as those found in household cleaners, personal care products and cosmetics. Others are formed from cigarette smoke chemicals, pesticides, pollution and ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
How do we get rid of them?
The most efficient way to get rid of free radicals is to neutralize them by providing them with an electron to stabilize them. The body produces an enzyme called Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) that reacts with the free radical superoxide and neutralizes it. SOD is present in the cellular fluids for protection from free radicals. When we are deficient in SOD we suffer from the ravages of free radical activity.
SOD takes on different forms in our body depending upon the trace minerals that are incorporated into its structure. The trace minerals used to form SOD are copper, zinc, nickel, manganese and iron. Poor nutrition leading to lack of trace minerals in the body can lead to a shortage of SOD in the body. That is how poor nutrition choices and poor digestive function ultimately contribute to the aging of the body from inside and out. Mineral supplements are an important part of health and slowing biological aging.
Antioxidants are chemical agents that have extra electrons to give up. When they come in contact with a free radical they give them an electron and stabilize them. The more antioxidants you have in your body the protected you are from free radical damage. Actions you can take to bolster the concentration of antioxidant agents in your tissues are to:
- Take mineral supplements
- Eat leafy vegetables as close to raw as possible
- Avoid contact with synthetic chemicals and petroleum distillates
- Exercise to maximize the ability to circulate the nutrients in your body
- Cleanse your digestive tract occasionally to maximize absorption of nutrients
To that end, check out the information on Mineral Essence and NingXia Red supplements that contribute to a healthier body.