Free Radical Damage and Antioxidants

If you think back to your days in school science classes, you probably remember the topic of molecules. A molecule has a nucleus at the center and then a certain number of electrons that orbit around the nucleus.

Normally, the molecules that make up your body are balanced; they have an
even number of electrons.

 
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A free radical is a molecule that has lost one of its electrons leaving it with an odd number of electrons.

The body produces free radicals through normal metabolic pathways such as extracting energy from the food we eat. Exposure to the toxins in junk food or polluted air, for example, can also be sources of free radical production. In short, we are exposed to potential sources of free radical production every day of our lives.
 
  These unbalanced free radical molecules attempt to stabilize themselves by "stealing" an electron from another healthy molecule. The cells in your body where this process is occurring can become injured. The cell may malfunction causing disease or even become malignant causing cancer. It is also widely believed that free radicals are one of the main causes of the aging process. 
 
Antioxidants are nutritional compounds in whole foods that have extra electrons.  When an antioxidant comes in contact with a free radical, the antioxidant "donates" an electron to the free radical.  This way, the free radical doesn't have to "steal" an electron from another healthy molecule and the damage normally caused by the free radical can be avoided.  The antioxidant nutrients themselves do not become free radicals when they "donate" an electron because they are stable in either form. 
 
The human body is capable of producing antioxidants naturally, but under conditions of poor diet, toxicity, physical stress or emotional stress, this antioxidant production can be severely impaired.  Do you know someone who eats a poor diet, has high levels of toxicity and is stressed out much of the time?  This is why they may appear older than they actually are.

Eating a healthy whole food diet and drinking plenty of water are two of the best ways to protect your body from the damage of free radicals. Healthy fruits and vegetables provide an excellent source of natural antioxidants to help your body stabilize the free radicals and ward off the damage that they cause. 
 
Are you ready to re-set your body's nutritional system back to "original manufacturer's specifications"? The Tri-Decathlon Delux is a 13 day program of whole foods, water and walking. You can cleanse your body of toxins and fill it with natural antioxidants at the same time. Imagine the good you can do for your body by treating it to 13 days of nature's best.

More on Antioxidants:
Antioxidants are natural substances found in plants, which are known to aid in the prevention of heart disease, cancer and stroke.  Berries have an especially high level of antioxidants, according to a recent study published in the journal BioFactors (Vol. 23, pages 197-205)

The pigments that give berries their rich red to blue, black and purple colors are a type of phytochemical that has been shown to have significant disease-fighting, cell-protecting antioxidant capacity.  In addition to boosting your immune system, these valuable compounds are also known to slow the effects of aging by improving things like memory, balance, coordination and motor skills.

The Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC Value) of foods is a measurement of the Antioxidant levels. The higher the ORAC Value, the more Antioxidants a food has. It's believed that foods high in these powerful nutrients give the body its greatest protection.

Berries are some of the most delicious and powerful disease-fighting foods available. Blueberries are among fruits and vegetables with the highest Antioxidant levels with an ORAC Value of 5486. Right behind blueberries are blackberries with an ORAC Value of 4654; strawberries at 3520 and raspberries, 2789. Berry ORAC levels top that of many other fruits and vegetables such as oranges, grapefruit, cherries, plums, brussell sprouts, broccoli and spinach. 
 

Single servings of fresh or freshly cooked fruits and vegetables supply an average of 600-800 ORAC units. Scientists believe that increasing intake of foods that provide 2000-5000 units per day may be needed to increase serum and tissue antioxidant activity sufficiently to improve health outcomes. This is why it IS important to eat 5 to 9 servings daily of fruits and vegetables.
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Updated 1/16/13

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