Free Radicals and Antioxidants

You see the words Free Radical and Antioxidant on just about every beauty magazine cover these days. We use them in daily conversations, but do we really understand what they mean?

The serious explanation of Free Radicals defines them as atoms or molecules in your body with an unpaired electron … making them highly unstable. Because electrons normally come in pairs, the free radicals collide with other molecules in an attempt to steal an electron, and may start a chain reaction, wreaking havoc on your DNA and cells and leading to all kinds of diseases.

The not so serious explanation is to think of them as an oxygen molecule gone wrong, a Free Radical Pac-Man (Ms. Pac-Man?) on the attack.

The more free radicals to which we are exposed, such as sun, smog and cigarette smoke, the greater the chance free radicals can tinker with our bodies natural DNA makeup. When that occurs, our body’s organs, tissues and cells are weakened. Some weakening is a natural part of the aging process; however, the introduction of more and more free radicals breaks down our body’s natural ability to fight back the aging process and escalates it prematurely. And remember, the largest organ of the body is our skin!

Antioxidants on the other hand, are free radical scavengers, neutralizing them before they get a chance to do harm to your body. They get their name from their ability to inhibit oxidation.

There are lots of different substances we call antioxidants, including many vitamins and minerals. Of course, not all antioxidants are created equal, and some of the most powerful, polyphenol antioxidants, are found in great abundance in pomegranate juice, cranberries and grapes. Red wine, chocolate and green teas are wonderful alternative sources.

So, kick off those Jimmy Choo’s, indulge in a glass of red wine with a piece of dark chocolate and chase those free radicals away.

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