What exactly are free radicals? Why they are harmful to the human body? And how vitamin E and other antioxidant nutrients help protect the body against free radicals?
Let’s try to answer questions about free radicals and helps explain why eating 5-8 servings per day of fruits and vegetables rich antioxidants and pH balanced drink alkaline water can benefit your health. But first, a little history?
Background: A brief look at the chemical bonds
To understand how free radicals and antioxidants interact, you must first understand a bit about cells and molecules. So here it is a (very) brief refresher course Physiology / Chemistry 101: The human body is composed of many different cell types. Cells are composed of many different types of molecules. The molecules consist of one or more atoms one or more elements together by chemical bonds.
As you probably remember from your days old high school, atoms consist of a nucleus, neutrons, protons and electrons. The number of protons (positively charged particles) in the core atom? S determines the number of electrons (negatively charged particles) surrounding the atom. Electrons are involved in chemical reactions and are the substance that binds the atoms to form molecules. Electrons surround, or “orbit” an atom in one or more shells. The innermost layer is complete when it has two electrons. When the first layer is full, electrons begin to fill the second layer. When the second layer has eight electrons it is complete, and so on.
The most important structural feature of an atom to determine their chemical behavior is the number of electrons in its outer shell. A substance having a full outer shell tends not to enter into chemical reactions (an inert substance). Because the atoms try to reach a state of maximum stability, an atom will try to fill its outer layer:
- Increase or lose electrons to fill or empty is your outer layer
- by sharing their electrons by bonding with other atoms in order to complete its outer layer
atoms often complete their outer shells by sharing electrons with other atoms. By sharing electrons, atoms are linked together and meet the conditions of maximum stability of the molecule.
How free radicals are formed
Normally, bonds not divided in a way that leaves a molecule with an unpaired electron, unpaired. But when weak bonds split, free radicals are formed. Free radicals are very unstable and react quickly with other compounds, trying to capture the needed electron to gain stability. Generally, free radicals attack the nearest stable molecule, “stealing” its electron. When the molecule “attacked” loses its electron, it becomes a free radical from a chain reaction. Once the process starts, it can cascade, finally resulting in the disruption of a living cell.
Some free radicals during normal metabolism. Sometimes the cells of the immune systems of the body purposefully create them to neutralize viruses and bacteria. However, environmental factors such as pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke and herbicides can also generate free radicals.
Normally, the body can handle free radicals, but if antioxidants are unavailable, or if the free radical production becomes excessive, damage can occur. Of particular importance it is that free radical damage accumulates with age.
How antioxidants can prevent free radical damage against
The vitamins C and E, it is believed
to protect the body against the destructive effects of free radicals. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals by donating one of their own electrons, ending the “steal” the reaction of electrons. Antioxidant nutrients same gift? T become free radicals by donating an electron because they are stable in either form They act as scavengers, helping to prevent cell and tissue damage that could lead to cellular damage and disease.
Vitamin E – The most abundant fat-soluble antioxidant in the body. One of the antioxidants more effective chain breakage available. primary defense against oxidation. primary defense against lipid peroxidation (creation of unstable molecules containing more oxygen than usual).
Vitamin C – The most abundant water-soluble antioxidant in the body. It acts primarily in cellular fluid. Of particular interest in the fight against the formation of free radicals caused by pollution and cigarette smoke. It also helps return vitamin E to its active form.
The Antioxidants and Disease Prevention
- heart disease -. Vitamin E may protect against cardiovascular disease by acting against LDL oxidation and the formation of plaque that clogs arteries
- cancer -. Many studies have correlated high vitamin C intake with low cancer rates, particularly cancers of the mouth, larynx and esophagus
The lesson: Eat your fruits and vegetables
antioxidants to help protect the body against damage from free radicals. But before you go and fill your pantry with large doses of these vitamins, be warned: more is not always better. The long-term effect of large doses of these nutrients has not been tested. Other chemicals and substances found in natural sources of antioxidants may also be responsible for the beneficial effects. So for now, the best way to ensure adequate intake of antioxidant nutrients is through a balanced diet consisting of 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.