The Role of Oxygen
Living organisms require oxygen to metabolize their dietary nutrients and use them to produce energy in order to survive. Thus, oxygen is an essential component of living. It supervises the chemical reactions that metabolize things like carbohydrates, fats and proteins to produce energy. However, even though it is very essential for living, it is also capable of becoming extremely damaging because it becomes a part of highly damaging molecules that are known as free radicals.
What are Free Radicals?
Free radicals are molecules that are found in the environment. These molecules are more than capable of attacking the healthy cells in the body and causing severe damage, disorders or diseases. The cell damage caused by free radicals leads to countless diseases such as cancer, decline in brain functions, heart diseases, skin aging and decline in the immune system. However, this is not all there is to free radical damage. More than 50 diseases have been attributed to free radical damage. Since these free radicals contain unpaired electrons, they can reach out and capture electrons from healthy substances. This stabilizes the free radical, but it also generates another unstable free radical in the process. This starts off a chain reaction and thousands of free radical reactions can take place within the matter of seconds.
Controlling Free Radicals
The best way to control the formation of free radicals in your body is through antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that are found in numerous fruits, vegetables, meats and nuts. These compounds neutralize or stabilize the free radicals and save your healthy cells from getting damaged. There are several nutrients that are found in food items. Some of these nutrients like Vitamins C and E and Beta Carotene contain antioxidants. Vitamin C is considered to be the most important water soluble antioxidant. Similarly, Vitamin E is considered to be the most important lipid soluble antioxidant. Another antioxidant that is extremely beneficial for the body is Resveratrol. Resveratrol is a compound that is usually found in the skin of red grapes.
Are Free Radicals Really as Bad as they Sound?
Although this might lead you to believe that antioxidants are the good guys and free radicals are the bad guys, the human body can also use free radicals in positive ways. In fact, free radicals play a major role in regulating some of the key systems in the human body. For example, the white blood cells that help the body to fight against bacteria works by releasing free radicals. This was also confirmed by a study conducted on yeast. The study showed that when free radicals are present in lower levels, they can actually help the cells to protect themselves.
Therefore, filling your diet and skin care routine with antioxidants is likely to cause more harm than good. Yes, you do need them in decent quantities, but you must ensure that you don’t overload your body with antioxidants as the extra antioxidants in the body can have dampening effects on the body’s ability to fight off diseases.