What is free radical cell damage?
Free radicals are molecules that contain oxygen and have an uneven number of electrons, which allow them to react easily with other molecules. This could cause large chain chemical reactions in your body, called oxidation or oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants, a chemical property that neutralizes free radicals by giving up electrons.
At their best, free radicals fight off pathogens, which lead to infections. But when antioxidants cannot balance free radicals, they begin to damage our DNA, fatty tissue, and proteins, leading to accelerated aging and diseases, including atherosclerosis (hardening of the blood vessels), cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, inflammatory conditions, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Although our bodies produce free radicals naturally, some factors can accelerate their production. In this blog, we’ll discuss several ways you can prevent free radical cell damage so you can live to your potential and perform at your best every day.
Among other benefits, a regular exercise routine is associated with higher antioxidant levels and decreased oxidative stress in the body, which will help you avoid diseases and effects of aging.
Pack your diet with plants
You’ve most likely heard about foods that are high in antioxidants, and these are all good for you! Getting five servings of colourful fruits and vegetables daily will help your body produce antioxidants. Dark chocolate also helps, but don’t go overboard with it!
Supportive herbs include cinnamon, ginger, ginkgo, grape seed extract, green tea, rosemary and turmeric.
Fish, legumes, nuts, and foods containing beta-carotene, copper, glutathione, lutein, lycopene, melatonin, selenium, zinc, and vitamins C and E are also good sources of antioxidants.
Processed foods like sausages, bacon, and salami contain preservatives, which lead to the production of free radicals. While red meat is high in iron, this makes it more vulnerable to oxidation, so you should limit your red meat intake.
Soy and other plant-based foods contain plant estrogens, or phytoestrogens, which contain antioxidants. Eat organic if you can, as pesticides in food may contribute to radical cell damage.
Lower your intake of high glycemic foods, which are rich in refined carbohydrates and sugars, as they are more likely to generate free radicals. For example, a fruit salad is much more healthy than a rich cake or pie.
While you can supplement with antioxidants, taking more than the recommended daily allowance can be harmful, so try to get them naturally from food.
Be sure to space out your meals and snacks, and eat in moderation. Overeating or constant eating can keep your body in a state of oxidative stress more often.
Get good sleep
Besides supporting the balance of many of our body’s systems, good sleep can help us to balance antioxidants and free radicals.
Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and chemicals
Chemicals of all kinds can be linked to oxidative stress, including those in alcohol, cigarettes, and processed and fast food. While red wine contains antioxidant-rich flavonoids, limit consumption of alcoholic beverages to one or two per day maximum.
Try to limit your exposure to chemicals from cleaning and pesticides, and avoid exposure to radiation and polluted air.
Ultraviolet (UV) light can damage our skin, so when you spend time outside (even if it’s not sunny), wear that sunscreen!
We hope this blog has been helpful in helping you naturally boost antioxidants and avoid free radical cell damage. Many of our products are high in antioxidants and we encourage you to explore some that may help you in your health and wellness journey.