We are exposed to free radicals from a variety of sources that originate from both internal and external origins. The good news is that there are ways to neutralize the negative impact that free radicals can have upon our physical body so that we can remain healthy in the long term.
Internally, free radicals originate from metabolic processes within the human body such as respiration, energy production, and the inflammatory response pathway. Externally, free radicals can be found in air pollutants, cigarette smoke, ultraviolet radiation, x-rays, radon, industrial chemicals, and lastly, the foods that we eat.
What are Free Radicals?
A free radical is defined as any molecule that contains an unpaired electron in its atomic orbital. For this discussion, we are focusing upon the harmful effects that may result from free radicals being present within the human body. To put it simply, the formation of free radicals can damage cells and make us unhealthy.
The primary targets in the human body that are damaged by free radicals are proteins, DNA, and lipids. Free radicals can lodge themselves within the membranes of cells and disrupt the body’s ability to maintain a state of homeostasis. This is why it is very important to have adequate antioxidants in your diet in order to stop free radicals from doing their damage.
What are Antioxidants?
An antioxidant is a molecule stable enough to neutralize free radicals. Antioxidants can also scavenge free radicals and destroy them. Our body produces some antioxidants on its own, but we need additional antioxidants from our diet to effectively counterbalance the detrimental effects of free radicals.
A plant-based diet has demonstrated stronger antioxidant activity than a diet that is animal-based. Studies have shown that there are large amounts of antioxidants in fruits, vegetables, and nuts. There are smaller amounts in meats, poultry, and fish. Vitamins E, C, and A are strong antioxidants, but the body cannot make these vitamins so they must be supplied in the diet.
How To Eat Healthy
When we satisfy our hunger with a meal that is made from high quality ingredients or a home cooked meal that is lovingly prepared from a family member, we not only feel satisfaction on a physical level, but we also feel nurtured to the core of our being. This is the definition of functional food which is essential for good health.
Our food is considered functional if it adds benefit to the body’s physiological processes and mental wellness. Whole foods such as fruits and vegetables represent the simplest example of functional food. They provide the body with excellent nutrition, enzymes, and fiber to keep the digestive track clean as a whistle.
Overcoming The Challenges
If you are fortunate enough to live in an environment that offers abundant food choices, then you are blessed. Along with this blessing comes the challenge of making healthy eating decisions. It takes self-discipline to resist the ‘bad’ foods and choose the healthy ones. Having the proper knowledge and a support system in place can help you develop the will power that is necessary to make those consistent, healthy food choices.
The cell damage done by free radicals is the cause of many chronic diseases that we see in the world today. We are exposed to free radicals on a daily basis. Luckily, antioxidants can neutralize the effects of free radicals. Our body produces some antioxidants on its own, but it needs an additional supply from our diet in order to optimize our health. The richest source of antioxidants can be found in a plant-based diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts.
The author, Susan Kapatoes, MHA is a nutritionist and founder of Inspire Your Journey, a holistic wellness company. She is a Wellness Partner with Amare Global, and an Independent Distributor with BEMER Therapy and Healy World. She lives in Massachusetts.
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