If you’re paying much attention to one of the latest health buzz words, chances are you may have heard the term “free radicals” thrown around. So, we got curious ourselves and wanted to know more about what they actually are and what causes them. Along the way, we found some pretty interesting information that will hopefully open your eyes as much as ours to this interestingly impactful buzz word. The expression refers to unstable atoms that can damage the body. According to Dave Asprey from Bullet Proof, They are “little bundles of destruction” that can cause cellular damage and inflammation. Free radicals are also thought to be a driving mechanism behind aging. Additionally, they have been linked to diseases – particularly those related to aging – like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Here’s everything you need to know about free radicals, possible ways they could be affecting you, and some ways to combat their effects.
What are free radicals?
A free radical is an atom that does not have a complete “shell” of electrons and is therefore considered unstable. Electrons orbit atoms in layers called shells, but if one atom finds that it’s unable to complete one of its shells, then it may bond with another atom to complete itself. However, this inherently makes it unstable because if it splits at any point then it has unpaired electronics that seek atoms and molecules to bond to in oxidative stress. This instability is why it becomes known as a free radical.
How do they affect your body?
The process of oxidative stress – which occurs when molecules split into single atoms and there are unstable free radicals at play – is known to cause damage to the body cells. The result isn’t always the same. Anything from wrinkles to a variety of diseases can be the outcome. The body also loses its ability to fight off the free radicals over time, and thus it becomes worn down to the degenerative process that results in damage to the body.
Some examples of diseases and illnesses that could be the result of free radicals:
- Aging & Cellular Damage
- Inflammation in the body
- Alzheimer’s and other dementias
- Cardiovascular disease (caused by clogged arteries
- Huntington’s disease
- Appearance related changes (gray hair, wrinkles, hair loss)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
How to fight free radicals?
According to Medical News Today, Free radicals are produced naturally in the body, so in some ways their production and presence are inevitable. However, individuals with certain factors in their lifestyle are more prone to struggle with the effects of free radicals along with other exposure to carcinogens.
- Fried foods
- Processed food, high sugar, or fat consumption
- Toxic chemicals (pesticides or other air pollution)
- Ultraviolet Radiation
- High levels of stress
By reducing your consumption of and exposure to the seven elements above, you greatly increase your ability to fight free radicals as these lifestyle factors accelerate their production.
One solution, however, is exercise. Regular exercise alone has been shown to help build up antioxidant defenses against oxidative stress. Ensuring that you are getting enough exercise on a regular basis is key. However, over-exercising can cause the opposite effect. So, making sure you get a balanced level is said to be important.
In addition to exercise, increasing antioxidants in your diet has been shown to fight free radicals. If you have heard much from Dave Asprey, He is a huge believer in the positive effects that antioxidants have fighting off the effects of free radicals in your body. Especially in the realm of cellular degeneration and anti-aging. Antioxidants donate an electron without becoming reactive themselves. Antioxidants can be found in a wide variety of foods with high levels of Vitamin A, C, & E like fruits, vegetables, coffee even has levels of antioxidants, as well as supplements. Your body also naturally produces them in the form of glutathione. Check back soon where we will high light a list of oxidant rich foods. So, making sure you have an antioxidant-rich diet are important as well.
While this is all known information about free radicals, there is still plenty of research still being done about what they are, why they affect us, and how to fight them. The best place to start in supporting your body, however, is removing the factors that trigger free radicals and implementing healthy habits like exercise and antioxidant consumption. Let us know your thoughts and comments about your experiences with success with any methods or information you have seen, and if you feel like free radicals could be affecting you too.