Free radicals are atoms floating around the body that have lost an electron, and most often you are looking at an oxygen atom that has lost an electron through oxidation. In other words, when an oxygen molecule splits into single atoms with unpaired electrons, oxidative stress occurs. This is because there are too many free radicals and too much cellular damage happening. Once an atom of oxygen loses an electron it becomes unstable. Electrons like to be in pairs so free radicals scavenge the body to seek out other electrons to pair with. This process causes damage to cells, proteins, and DNA, and are associated with diseases, such as cancer. Free radicals are also associated with aging. Sometimes they attack healthy cells causing damage which in turn causes conditions such as premature wrinkling when they attack skin cells.
Free Radicals are a crucial part of your immune system, floating through your veins and attacking foreign invaders in your body. They also are the natural byproducts of the chemical processes like metabolism.
Although free radicals are essential to life, they can be found in the food you eat, the water you drink, in your medicines, and in the air, you breathe.
What are the Effects of Oxidative Stress?
Although there are no officially recognized symptoms of oxidative stress, it has been documented that some of the signs and effects from oxidative stress can include fatigue, headaches, noise sensitivity, memory loss and brain fog, muscle and joint pain, wrinkles and gray hair, vision trouble and decreased immunity.
A diet high in sugar, fat, and alcohol may also contribute to free radical production.
How do you Fight Free Radicals?
The most important thing you can do to fight free radicals is to increase your levels of antioxidants which will decrease the formation of free radicals. Antioxidants are molecules that can donate an electron to a free radical without making themselves unstable. This causes the free radical to stabilize and become less reactive.
Eating an adequate amount of servings (5-8) per day of fruits and vegetables that contain Vitamin C and E is the best way to provide your body what it needs to produce antioxidants, and to help fight free radicals. Some of fruits those and vegetables would include:
- citrus fruits
- dark leafy greens
- whole grains
Natural Skincare Products are also utilized to fight back against free radicals. Many of these products contain antioxidant vitamins and minerals, including green tea. Try our Cocoa-Clay Antioxidant Mask, which will leave your skin smooth, detoxified and glowing.
Things to Remember
While free radicals and antioxidants are part of your body’s natural and healthy functioning, oxidative stress occurs when free radicals and antioxidants are out of balance. Oxidative stress can cause damage to many of your tissues.
Also remember, you can not completely avoid exposure to free radicals, however you can make lifestyle choices regarding diet, exercise, and environment to help keep your body in balance, and prevent excessive damage.