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Antioxidants and free radicals have some things in common. For beginners, they are both chemicals that are found naturally in your body. And the production of both can also be influenced by diet and environment respectively.
In terms of the relationship between the two, antioxidants are useful substances that block harmful substances, i.e., free radicals. But what do free radicals do, and why are they considered bad for health?
What are free radicals?
Free radicals are the natural component of human metabolism, but problems do occur when the balance of free radicals and antioxidants is disrupted. This disruption is referred to as oxidative stress, and low oxidative stress is associated with good health.
The free radical is highly reactive and has a lifespan of a fraction of a second, but during this time, it can damage DNA cells. A great deal of scientific research has looked at how much harm free radicals can make, which then might be linked to the development of cancer and other health conditions.
A free radical comes to be when a molecule or atom either gains or loses an electron.
Here’s a quick chemistry overview: In your body, you’ve got all sorts of cells, and they’re made up of various molecules and atoms. Atoms have electrons circling them in an outer shell, and the properties of that shell make them bond with other atoms.
Sometimes, when a weak bond between atoms makes a free radical looking for an electron, it goes on the search and attacks the nearest molecule to steal an electron in the hope of stabilizing. This begins a reaction of the next molecule doing the exact thing again.
Why should free radicals worry you?
This process occurs naturally in your body and is essential for normal cell processes, especially for bacteria and viruses’ neutralization. Here’s the thing: the high levels of free radicals can become a threat to components that make up cells.
Some cells can heal from the damage, while others cannot, which may cause worry for you in the long term.
Viruses and infections attack while free radicals cause damage to your cells and DNA and contribute to the ageing process, which plays a part in developing diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Environmental variables, such as cigarette smoke and general environmental pollutants and contaminants, may also increase your free radical counts doing further damage.
What are antioxidants?
As the name suggests, antioxidants can prevent, detoxifying, or slowing other molecules’ oxidation, generally trapping free radicals from continuing their destructive behavior.
The right antioxidants are the need of an hour to detox your body from any contaminants. But too much of anything is bad, and antioxidants are the same.
At high concentrations, antioxidants can act as pro-oxidants. They can also reduce the health benefits of exercise and have adverse effects, like nausea and headaches or even reach toxic levels.
Though the body does naturally produce antioxidants which are not quite enough to do the job alone, and here the necessity to take dietary supplements and certain foods comes into play.
The best way to get your body antioxidants is through a healthy diet. Mainly foods that supply antioxidants include blueberries, kidney beans, cranberries, broccoli, garlic, green tea, and apples like Granny Smith.
Which are some antioxidant products?
Antioxidants products aren’t all produced the same. While they are all designed to protect you against UV rays, pollution, and other environmental elements, some are more robust solutions than others.
Some popular antioxidants found in skincare products are:
Vitamin C: Vitamin C has other skin benefits, besides being a free radical scavenger, such as improving collagen production and decreasing dark spots from the skin.
Retinol: A derivative of vitamin A, this ingredient is effective due to its small molecular structure. It can enter the skin deep enough to stimulate collagen production and speed up the cell renewal/reparation, soften fine lines and wrinkles.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E’s can speed up the skin healing process. Not surprisingly, it is found in all moisturizers, creams, and lotions formulated to treat dry skin and intended to minimize stretch marks.
Coenzyme Q10: The topical use of this antioxidant contributes to fight off free radical damage and keep your skin healthy. This nutrient is easily absorbed into the skin and stimulates collagen development, thus improving elasticity and texture.
Resveratrol: It serves as a plant’s defensive armor. It is a plant-produced antimicrobial substance to protect skin against air pollution, infection, UV radiation, and extreme climate change. It helps promote longer cell life in the body.
No magic pill is available for better health, but a healthy diet will provide you with all the antioxidants you need to combat free radical damage.
If you’re not sure where you stand with antioxidants, the first thing you should do is consult your physician—taking it through foods that are high in antioxidants is also pretty good for you in other ways.