Stable molecules are those in which every nucleus of the atom is ringed by pairs of electrons. The total number of electrons depends upon which element it is. Occasionally, an atom loses an electron, leaving it with an unpaired electron. It then becomes an unstable molecule or free radical and becomes very reactive in its search to pair up with another electron. By stealing an electron from a neighbouring molecule (which then makes that molecule a free radical), it can set off a chain reaction that wreaks havoc on the cells of the body.
This process damages the surrounding molecules, cell structures and DNA. It can cause cell mutations, wrinkles, aging and damage the immune function. It can also contribute to the development of arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, strokes and other conditions. However, free radicals can also be useful because they help important reactions to take place within the body.
Many factors, such as; sunlight, radiation, chemicals, pollution and fumes can induce free radical formation in the environment. They cause food to spoil, the deterioration of plastics, the fading and peeling of paint, metal to rust, pipes to leak, clothes to fade and the degradation of works of art. Within the body stress, exercise and the process of metabolism and cellular respiration can all cause free radicals to be created.
According to the free radical theory of aging, cells continuously produce free radicals and constant radical damage eventually kills the cell. When free radicals kill or damage enough cells in an organism it contributes to aging. The average life expectancy may be increased by five or more years through consuming a nutritious low calorie diet which includes plenty of free radical reaction inhibitors (antioxidants). Antioxidants bind with free radicals, rendering them powerless.
Water is essential to help flush the system and especially bottled mineral water as this contains minerals which can help with this process. The kidneys will flush out toxins through the urine this way.
Cells in the body break down proteins and produce urea as a waste product. Cells also break down carbohydrates which produces water and carbon dioxide as waste products. If this waste is allowed to accumulate in the body, it would become dangerous to the body's health so the cells excrete them into the blood which is carried to the kidneys to be processed before being eliminated from the body as urine. Some waste and excess products are also released from the body in the form of sweat, tears, breath and faeces.
Making sure the body does enough physical activity every day to build up a sweat will help to flush out toxins through the sweat.
A sauna is also useful for this purpose. Again, consuming plenty of mineral or filtered water can help here.Distilled water can be useful for a detoxification as the water molecules readily attach to heavy metals and can help to flush them out of the system. However, distilled water must only be consumed for very short periods of a few days in any six months as it can cause minerals to be drawn out of the bones.
Choose only unprocessed pure foods and highly nutritious natural ingredients such as fresh vegetables, fruit, herbs and spices. Organic is always best for it contains far more nutrients and no chemical toxins from pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.
Free radicals are a natural by-product of the body turning food into energy (ATP). The body has mechanisms to deal with these free radicals, because they are highly dangerous left to their own devices. Excess free radicals are a problem because they attack the body itself, damaging key cellular molecules such as DNA. Cells with damaged DNA may be more prone to developing cancer. Free radical activity has also been implicated in premature ageing, heart disease, arthritis, cataract formation, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc.
An excess of free radicals can be caused by:
- frying food
- excessive exercise (normal exercise does not have this effect)
- polluted environments
You can see from this list that most of us will be producing far too many free radicals for the normal body processes to cope with, so we need to be sure that we take in enough anti-oxidants to de-activate these excess free radicals.
Regular consumption of foods rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, beta carotene , lycopene and lutien are vital to ensure protection against free radicals.
A lot of the symptoms of ageing are signs of free radical damage. When cell membranes are attacked by free radicals they either become hardened so that nutrients cannot get into the cells, or they may be punctured so that the cell collapses as the cell fluid drains out. In the skin this leads to skin which is leathery or wrinkled and sagging; in the joints this causes the synovial fluid to lose its lubricating quality and cause stiffness. In cells it may damage the DNA causing cell division of cells that would normally be instructed to eliminate themselves which is what causes the tumours of cancer.
The main source of antioxidants are fresh fruit and vegetables. This is part of the reason we are now being urged to eat more of these vital substances. Different antioxidants work in different areas of the body, so the key is to eat as wide a range of antioxidants as possible. This means eating fruit and vegetables of different types and different colours. Eat green and red grapes, eat orange fruit and vegetables, try new fruit and vegetables. Different coloured fruit and vegetables contain different antioxidants, and its vitally important that we have a full range of antioxidants, because they work in different ways in different parts of our bodies.
For example, some antioxidant molecules are too big to go through the gut wall so they work in the gut itself. Some antioxidants are water-soluble so can go where the fat soluble ones cant. Some work on the surface of cells and some work inside cells. Where do we want antioxidants to work? Everywhere in our body to help prevent damage and decay.
So don't just stick to green peppers, but buy red, yellow and orange ones too. Buy red grapes as well as green. Eat pumpkins and squash for their wonderful orange anti-oxidant properties, and dark green vegetables for their range of antioxidants.