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Healthy lifestyle-Antioxidants Versus Free Radicals

A healthy lifestyle is becoming a life goal for many people these days. I know it crosses your mind every time you go shopping at your favorite supermarket or food store or even when buying your snack from a friendly vendor on your way to work. 

Then before you know it, you are walking out of the store carrying what you swore not to buy, wearing a bold smile on your face and your taste buds filled with excitement!

Comforting thoughts and justifications for your decision like…You only live once, I will focus on the healthy part later in the day, I will work out later and burn these calories, this is the last time I am eating fries for lunch!… playing at the back of your mind.

‘Damn! Why is self-discipline so difficult on such matters?’ I know… I know…

Don’t worry, no pressure, I know you will get there once you understand why it is important for your overall health.

Antioxidants are an important ingredient when one is trying to live a healthy lifestyle. They help prevent diseases that can easily become detrimental.

Antioxidants

These are substances that fight free radicals in your body. They scavenge and neutralize the enemies; in this case, we are calling them free radicals.

You can call them your body armed forces with you as the commander in chief!

Buckle up, we are just getting started. You will feel like a full-blown expert by the end of this piece.

We already know our bodies are made of cells right?

Hold that thought!…

Free radicals

They are unstable compounds with the potential to harm your body cells. They are atoms roaming around in the body without an electron to pair with.  So what these little guys do is constantly searching for something to attach to.

Picture a single person doing everything within their power to settle down with someone who is already married! Well don’t look surprised, I know you have heard of such stories probably more times than I have, huh?  If such a person succeeds, then you can agree that marriage is as good as dead.

This is the case with free radicals in the body. If they succeed to attach onto the cells, the attachment process can cause damage to those human body cells.

So where do these free radicals come from?

  1. They are generated during normal body cell metabolism.

These compounds are constantly being produced in the body as nutrients are broken down to give us the energy we require to function daily.

Free radicals are not all bad. According to research conducted by pubmed’s Rahal et.al, 2014, they also perform other essential functions in the body.

Note, that when free radicals outnumber the antioxidants, they result in something called oxidative stress.

Mhhh…Now we are getting somewhere right?

Oxidative stress in your body simply means there is an imbalance between free radicals generation and the body’s ability to counteract or rather detoxify their detrimental effects.

What combat gear, machinery, fighter jets, kung fu heroes.., and all the stuff you are thinking about, does the body bring to this war?

Well, guess what?  None other than the esteemed body armed forces …Antioxidants!

Prolonged oxidative stress can cause damage to the DNA. Damage to DNA has been associated with diseases like cancer, heart problems, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, inflammatory diseases, and chronic fatigue syndrome, some scientists have associated this with aging as well.

Not so cool…Right? You can learn more about these harmful effects by clicking on the provided links below.

  • Exposure to toxins in the environment such as tobacco smoke, air pollution.

Our bodies produce oxygen reactive species, often abbreviated as ROS, during cell metabolism. When you get exposed to toxins around the environment, the ROS levels go high. This eventually results in oxidative stress and as we have learned above, this stress has the potential to cause cell damage and other serious diseases.

If you are determined to lead a healthy lifestyle and you smoke tobacco, I would recommend quitting for the betterment of your health.

In recent years, environmental conservation has been a great point of discussion by world leaders and concerned parties. This year alone, we have seen adverse effects of our activities on the climate due to pollution across the globe.  

From extremely high temperatures to unpredictable rainfall patterns, I believe it is a wake-up call for all of us. Do you agree?…

If you were not feeling enthusiastic about the environment subject, now you have one good reason to care, as those toxins in the air have an impact on your health too.

  • Exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

Ultraviolet radiation is usually emitted by the sun though there are other artificial sources like UV light bulbs. It has some benefits like vitamin D creation but on the other hand, it can also cause health risks.

Ultraviolet rays interact with atomic oxygen in the body to form what we call free radical derivatives such as hydrogen peroxide and the highly reactive hydrogen radical. These free radicals can attack your DNA, proteins, and lipids.

Prolonged exposure over time can result in skin cancer and premature wrinkles. The body can repair the DNA damage on skin cells. However, it may not manage to repair all the damage.

This does not mean you don’t enjoy your outdoor activities like ever…NO! You can protect your skin and eyes using your sunscreen, sunglasses, and that kickass hat, you can also plan to install a clear UV-blocking window film on your car.

If you take a closer look at your sunscreen, there are incorporated ingredients/ antioxidants to reduce your skin exposure to UV and hence lower the risk of skin cancer and skin damage.

It is all about self-awareness and self-care when you are out there basking in the sun so you can comfortably post your ‘#sun kissed’ beautiful photos on your IG/ Facebook.

The take home

Now that we know the sources of these free radicals thing, how can we assist our bodies in this fight and attain our goal of a healthy lifestyle? Where can we get these antioxidants?

Other than the skin care products we have mentioned on the UV part, there are many fruits and vegetables filled with antioxidants important for the body.

They include onions, celery, apples, grapes, carrots, nuts, turmeric, garlic, oranges, lemon, tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, and capsicums. The list is quite long.

As you internalize what a healthy lifestyle calls for, ensure your day’s meals and snacks, right from breakfast have foods rich in antioxidants.

I know you will do the right thing now which is to join your body in fighting free radicals by consuming antioxidant-rich foods. Don’t be the commander of body armed forces that expects his/her soldiers to fight without the artillery needed to win! Makes sense yeah?

See you in my next enlightening and exciting post as you eat your way to winning the fight against harmful free radicals and generally a healthy lifestyle.

Sources

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24587990
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4944358/
  3. https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Oxidative-Stress.aspx
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5927356/
  5. https://www.skincancer.org/risk-factors/uv-radiation/

8 thoughts on “Healthy lifestyle-Antioxidants Versus Free Radicals”

  1. Always looking forward to this informative piece from you,thank you for the awakening and self care information.Keep the good work❤️

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