Free Radicals

Several years ago while waiting for my lunch being served at the Sushi King near Bukit Bintang Kuala Lumpur, I was approached by a young Malaysian Indian asking me whether I know about a so called free radicals. So as not wanted to be disturbed assuming that he is a salesman trying to sell products, I said that I have heard about it even though I had not the slightest clue as to what it meant.

Now, after recalled it, I realized how stupid I was for not giving him a chance to explain about it. If you are concern about you health, you should know this too.

What is free radical?

Free radical is any atom or molecule that is highly reactive and unstable because they contain unpaired electron in their molecular structures. In order to become stable, they attack and steal electrons from other molecules. This attack spontaneously generates another unstable free radical molecule, starting a chain reaction that damages cellular function, eventually leading to the cells' death.

Scientists call free radicals the underlying cause of many chronic diseases. Dr. Bruce Ames, Ph.D., a well-known scientist in the field of antioxidants, estimates that just one cell in the human body is hit about 10,000 times a day by a free radical. If that’s multiplied by the trillions of cells in our body the magnitude of this activity is tremendous.

Do you know how they destroy your health?

Free radicals kill cells, damage body tissues, destroy enzymes, attack DNA and produce toxic chemicals.

A wealth of scientific evidence has determined that the body's formation of unstable oxygen molecules (free radicals) is the cause of various diseases such as heart diseases, strokes, diabetes, arthritis (joint pain), sinusitis, vision problems (cataracts), neurological impairments, high blood pressure and cancers.

How are free radicals formed?

They may formed through one of these:
1- Unhealthy food - fatty diet made up of processed food, fried food, barbecued and charbroiled food.
2-Alcoholic beverages.
4-Stress - all chemicals and some endocrine hormones create free radicals.
5-Toxic chemicals in pesticides and insecticides.
6-Ultraviolet (UV) rays.
7-Environmental pollutants and contaminants.

How to prevent or minimize the damage done by free radicals

Antioxidants were found to be the best solution in solving free radicals problem. Antioxidants are compounds that help to inhibit the many oxidation reactions caused by free radicals thereby preventing or delaying damage to the cells and tissues. They neutralize free radical by donating their own electron and don't turn into free radicals because they are stable in either form, ending the electron-stealing reaction.

It is well known that fruit and vegetables (Vitamin C and E) are good sources of antioxidants. Anthocyanins (natural substances that provide pigmentation-[color] to fruits and vegetables) serve as a powerful natural antioxidants. That is why health experts recommend strongly for us to consume at least 5-9 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables a day to replenish our body's antioxidant supply.

Here is the rank of antioxidants by potency
2-Grape Seed Extract, Pine Bark Extract
5-Vitamin E, Beta-Carotene
6-Vitamin C

As well as eating more fruit and vegetables, antioxidant intake can be topped up by drinking more tea (which also has been found as a natural resources of antioxidants), helping to promote overall health and well-being.