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What are the free radicals?

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Most of us are not aware of the number of functions and processes that constantly occur in our bodies. To enjoy good health, our body must find a balance that allows its stability, and this is where free radicals come into play. It is unstable and reactive molecules that cause the transformation of molecules around them to achieve their stability, creating a chain effect that can be harmful. Its products are detrimental to the body, and antioxidants are necessary to combat them. In this FastlyHealarticle, we will thoroughly explain what free radicals are and the elements that intervene with them.

The battle between free radicals and antioxidants

To understand the role of free radicals in our body and that of its enemy, antioxidants, we must first find out where they come from.

  • The body creates the free radicals after the metabolism of food, exercise, and breathing. In addition, other elements of the environment such as tobacco, certain foods, pollution, and radiation increase the presence of free radicals.
  • The antioxidants. The other protagonists in this battle to achieve the well-being of the human body, antioxidants, are substances that are naturally present in the body and found in some foods. Its function is to fight free radicals that invade the body and block the damage they generate. In this way, a balance limits the free radical count. We can differentiate between two types of antioxidants: endogenous and exogenous. The former is produced naturally by the body, while the latter is acquired through food intake and prevents the oxidation of lipids.

So are free radicals harmful?

So far, we know the two protagonists and, in principle, it seems clear who has a good function and who does not. However, the presence of free radicals in the body has the process of eliminating bacteria and viruses. Despite this positive function, their presence must be limited and controlled. For this reason, the presence of free radicals is beneficial when there is not an excess of them since otherwise, they can damage cells.

What damage do free radicals cause?

  • Free radicals can impair cellular functions as they damage the lipids and proteins of the cell membrane. Some of the tasks that are affected by the elimination of debris are that the body does not need the transport of nutrients and cell division.
  • Aging of cells, which leads to more excellent aging of the person, and difficulty in cell replication, that is, the process by which cells reproduce.

Impact on our body

Therefore, free radicals are necessary for our body, as long as their count is not excessive. These are responsible for the body’s aging, so those with a lower level of free radicals in their body will age later. When these molecules multiply, generating an excessive amount, they can cause some cardiovascular diseases. The excess of free radicals in the body causes so-called oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress

The damage that free radicals cause in biological structures is the leading cause of aging, atherosclerosis, cancer, cataracts, and other problems. When this situation occurs, the imbalance that we mentioned earlier occurs between antioxidants’ ability to destroy free radicals and their production.

How to fight free radicals

If the problem is an excess of free radicals, why not fight them? Antioxidants are the agents responsible for stopping the spread of free radicals, so we must try to administer enough foods rich in these molecules to our bodies. These foods contain vitamins C and E, in addition to beta-carotene, pigments with antioxidant functions.

Foods rich in antioxidants

  • Berries contain proanthocyanidins antioxidants, which are present in strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.
  • Nuts. Rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, they are essential to prevent oxidative stress. Walnuts, almonds, etc.
  • Broccoli. It is one of the vegetables with the highest levels of vitamin C. It contains phytonutrients, beneficial substances to prevent and fight certain diseases.
  • Tomatoes. They contain high levels of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant beneficial to eliminating free radicals.
  • Garlic. The properties of garlic are extraordinary; From its antibiotic power to its anticoagulant and detoxifying effects, it can eliminate bacteria and contribute positively to the health of the body.
  • Grapes. They are rich in flavonoids and polyphenols, so they help control bad cholesterol and blood pressure and protect the heart.

You may also be interested in the article on the intestinal flora, fundamental in the balance of bacteria that intervene in the immune system.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any condition or discomfort.

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