Free Radicals and Antioxidants
Free radicals are now increasingly regarded as primary forces of destruction in nearly all living things. Free radicals occur when healthy oxygen molecules are transformed into a highly reactive, unstable form of oxygen. This transformation occurs ironically by things we trust most like sunlight, the air we breathe, the food we eat and things we do everyday, like exercise. Free radicals can attack, damage and ultimately destroy any material including the sensitive cells and tissues inside the body. Free radicals can do a lot of damage by reprogramming our DNA.
Free radical reactions in the body are very insidious because they undergo an explosive chain-reaction mechanism. Imagine a ping-pong table filled with mousetraps. Each trap is loaded with a single ping-pong ball. All is quiet until one ping-pong ball, which represents the initial free radical, is dropped onto the table. Imagine what happens when this ball hits a trap, which then releases its ball, which hits another trap, and another and another, each releasing its ball until the whole table explodes.
One free radical can initiate literally tens of thousands of reactions. This is very damaging to the body if a free radical "quencher" is not available to stop it. If not stopped, one free radical can go on to create very serious havoc in the area it has initiated.
Free radicals cause cancer, diabetes, cataracts, cardiovascular
disease and wrinkles:
- It is now universally accepted in medical and scientific circles that oxidate damage to cell components is one of the major causative factors for many disease states and has a profound negative effect on the aging process.
- Free radicals have been implicated in the development of ill health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, cataracts, cardiovascular disease.
- Although most living organisms have extremely efficient protective systems for defending themselves from the ravaging effects of oxidative free radicals, our natural defenses are stressed from poor diet, food additives, cured meats, tobacco smoke, alcohol, infection and other disease states, stress, radiation, asbestos, X-rays, pesticides, and other man-made pollutants.
Damage From Oxygenated Free Radicals Can Be Traced To:
- Arthritis and Rheumatism.
- Cataracts & other visual problems.
- Circulation Problems.
- Cold Toes & Fingers.
- Inflammatory Conditions.
- Collagen Deterioration (Aging & Wrinkles).
- Kidney & Liver Disorders.
- Respiratory Distress Syndrome.
- Vascular Disorders:
(i.e. Angina, Heart disease, Hemorrhoids, Varicose Veins, Bruising, etc.)
How to protect against free radical damage:
Our bodies naturally protect themselves against free radicals with a class of substances called antioxidants. Antioxidants act as diffusers of these molecular time-bombs. They actually act to "throw a blanket over the table preventing the ball from creating more damage."
While the subject of antioxidants has become "trendy" with a number of books, articles, and media expounding on the subject, the science and theories behind them have been around for a long, long time.
Antioxidant supplementation has proven very valuable in an effort to protect us from free radical damage. Antioxidants can detoxify the peroxides produced during exercise and diminish muscle damage and soreness. Antioxidants may delay aging and prevent or aid many of the conditions associated with free radical damage such as those listed above. The recent focus of antioxidant therapy is on chemprevention. Specific antioxidants also have a very important anti-enzyme effect. Recent
pharmacologic studies have identified gene stimulating factors which destroys carcinogens before they lead to tumors.
Vitamins A, C and E, Selenium and Coenzyme Q10 are well known for their antioxidant properties, but a variety of valuable accessory nutrients, the bioflavonoids should not be neglected. Until now, pycnogenols*, members of the bioflavonoid proanthcyanidin family, extracted from various sources such as pine tree bark, grape
seeds, etc., had been considered to be the most powerful antioxidant free radical diffusers ever studied.