Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wednesday Words

I realized that I have been throwing a lot of terms around, so I thought I'd delve into them now and then.

So, today: Free Radicals and Antioxidants

They go hand-in-hand. Quick and dirty (and extremely simplified): in overabundance, free radicals damage you; antioxidants prevent it.

Free radicals are unstable molecules. They can be formed from pollutants, cigarette smoke, stresses on you and your body, and other unhealthy lifestyle factors. They will go and "steal" electrons from other molecules (oxidize them) to try to stabilize themselves - which essentially begins a large chain-reaction of weakening or damaging your cells. Your body can handle a lot of this and repair itself (the body is an amazing thing! But you do need to treat it well.) If the damage adds up over time, this can lead to cancer, heart disease, early aging signs, and other health problems.

Antioxidants include some vitamins (vitamins C, E), carotenoids, chemicals like resveratol (from grapes) and EGCG (in green and white teas), phytochemicals (other compounds found in whole foods), and many more. They can go in and help stabilize that shaky free radical and even undo some of the damage!

So make sure every day to disrupt the balance in your favor! Different color foods have different antioxidant properties, that's why it's recommended to "eat a rainbow" of produce (no, not Taste the Rainbow of Skittles! Nice try!) Dump in natural foods rich in antioxidants, and cut back how you can on unhealthy lifestyles that promote damage.

Here's the your pot o' gold o' health at the end of your rainbow!


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