Apr 19, 2012

Free Yourself of Free Radicals

Free Yourself of Free Radicals

All this talk about free radicals, antioxidants and cleansing may have you wondering... what exactly are free radicals? How bad are they for my health, and how do I get rid of them?

Well, free radicals are metabolites of oxidation reactions (eek, scary big words!). This just means that certain foods, after being overheated or processed, release free radicals into your body.

These free radicals are like wild child molecules that need to rob other cells of their stability. The free radicals steal electrons from other molecules and wear down the integrity of other cells. They set off a chain reaction of stealing electrons, turning your healthy molecules into wild child molecules, as well!

So what's the big deal? Science shows us what excessive free radicals do inside the body:

  • Damage our DNA, causing mutations that can lead to cancer
  • Cause joint damage that can lead to arthritis
  • Further progresses chronic disease
  • Expedite aging by causing the loss of skin elasticity and decreased cognitive function

Psh. I don't want that stuff happening to me! Luckily, there is a knight in shining armor that saves the day! Her name is: ANTIOXIDANTS.

Antioxidants can be vitamins, minerals, amino acids and phytonutrients. Antioxidants basically chase after the wild child and make it stable so that they won't cause damage. Pretty cool. Below are three main ways you can free yourself of free radical damage:

  1. Eat Lots o' Colors and the ACE Vitamins (Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E): To find food rich in antioxidants, choose foods that have deep, rich color. Eat the colors of the rainbow and you will enjoy a full spectrum of antioxidants. Also seek out vitamins A, C, and E in foods such as broccoli, oranges and sweet potatoes.
  2. Use Saturated Fats for Cooking: When a healthy oil such as safflower, olive, or canola reaches its smoke point in cooking, it becomes rancid and oxidized. Moreover, fragile oils such as olive and flaxseed can also become oxidized when exposed to light and heat. This means they are no longer healthy and release free radicals in your system — eek! It's best to cook at high temperatures with a stable saturated fat. This includes tropical oils, such as coconut oil, and animal fat, such as organic butter (full fat or clarified). Use the sensitive oils for a yummy drizzle on prepared foods.
  3. Drink Tea: Green, Rooibos and herbal teas provide a wide array of antioxidants alongside essential minerals. Add a cup of tea to your mornings or evening to get the nourishing benefits.