Free radicals: how they affect our he alth and how to stop them

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Free radicals: how they affect our he alth and how to stop them
Free radicals: how they affect our he alth and how to stop them

If you often see he alth food advertising, you've probably noticed that free radicals are portrayed as the root cause of all disease, and antioxidants are supposed to be the key to healing

9 He alth Myths That Are Actually True

While these claims are obviously exaggerated, it is still true that free radicals do a lot of damage, destroying molecules and DNA in our body, and antioxidants can actually prevent this damage. But what are free radicals and how do they appear in our bodies?

What are free radicals?

Free radicals are molecules, atoms or ions that contain an unpaired electron, making them very reactive and unstable. They can change the basic structure of molecules or DNA by stealing their electrons in a process called oxidation. An unbalanced molecule may seem useless, but oxidation can set off a chain reaction that can damage the cell, its DNA structure, and its ability to function properly. Over time, accumulated oxidative damage can contribute to a number of different degenerative conditions.

Where do free radicals come from?

There are many different types of free radicals, but the ones that are already exciting scientists contain oxygen known as (ROS) - which stands for reactive oxygen species. During cellular metabolism, oxygen in the body is used to convert food into energy, and these free radicals are synthesized as a result of this process. So it is almost impossible to avoid the formation of these most free radicals by the above method, but there are many other sources of appearance, such as inflammation, disease, stress and aging.

The environment also plays a role in their creation - environmental pollution, alcohol, toxic metals, radiation, cigarette smoke, industrial chemicals and some drugs. At relatively low levels, free radicals do not pose a major threat to human he alth. However, if they enter the body, it can lead to oxidative stress, which can cause many problems.

What is oxidative stress?

Oxidative stress is damage that is caused by an imbalance between the body's antioxidant reserves and the presence of free radicals. According to the Free Radical Theory of Aging (FRTA), aging is caused by the accumulation of free radicals in our DNA and cells.

This theory claims that such cumulative damage to our connective tissue and cellular components leads to reduced physical performance, the appearance of wrinkles, a weakened immune system, and even death. The theory also states that oxidative stress can eventually cause arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, Parkinson's disease, muscular dystrophy and even Alzheimer's disease.

How do antioxidants deal with free radicals?

Free radicals go through your body looking for electrons to "steal". To combat this blatant theft, antioxidants provide free radicals with an electron, thus stabilizing them without any harmful effects on your body. In other words, they bind to free radicals and stop their harmful effects on the body. The uniqueness of antioxidants lies in the fact that they are still stable even though they have given up one of their electrons, making them the perfect solution for ridding the body of free radicals.

To get the best results, you should try to include as many different types of antioxidants in your diet as possible. The most popular are anthocyanins, polyphenols, curcuminoids, beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium. You can either carefully plan your daily meals to include different types of antioxidants, or you can consider purchasing supplements.

Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Natural Chocolate

Natural chocolate contains more cocoa than milk chocolate, which is why it also has a higher content of minerals and antioxidants. It contains about 15 mmol (millimoles) of antioxidants in 100 grams - much more than in blueberries or raspberries, for example, which are among the fruits with the highest content of antioxidants.


Blueberries, although small in size, are extremely rich in useful substances. 100 g of them contain 9.2 mmol of antioxidants – one of the highest levels among all fruits and vegetables.


Sweet, aromatic and irresistibly delicious, strawberries, in addition to all this, are also a rich source of vitamin C and antioxidants – 100 grams of them provide us with 5.4 mmol of antioxidants.


The artichoke, although until recently a little-known vegetable in our latitudes, is now more and more common. If you haven't tried it, it's high time to correct the mistake, because with it you will get a high amount of fiber, minerals and antioxidants - about 4.7 mmol per 100 grams.

Goji berries

Red goji berries have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years, and there's no reason why we shouldn't benefit from their beneficial properties. With a rich content of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – 4.3 mmol per 100 grams, they are an excellent addition to a balanced diet.


Beans are an excellent, cheap and easily accessible way to add antioxidants to your menu - their content is about 2 mmol per 100 g.


Beetroot is an excellent source of fiber, potassium, iron and folate, as well as antioxidants - about 1.7 mmol in 100 grams.


The dark green color of the spinach leaves means that the content of useful substances in them is high - vitamins, minerals and antioxidants up to 0.9 mmol per 100 grams.

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