What Are Free Radicals?

free radicals

Much is said about free radicals today, particularly with regard to the diseases they cause, including cancer. Although much talk about them, the main focus is most often on how to combat them, which leaves us without knowing what exactly are free radicals and how they damage our cells and our health. If you want to know what are free radicals, keep reading.

Free radicals are very unstable and highly reagents so that attempt to capture electrons from other compounds to gain stability. Thus, after the formation of a free radical, it begins to "steal" electrons from other molecules, causing them to remain also with an odd number of electrons, turning them into free radicals. This creates a chain reaction which, once started, can cause damage to living cells.

Free radicals can be formed in the body from normal metabolic processes or from external sources, such as x-rays, ozone, smoke, air pollution and chemicals. Some internal and external sources of free radicals are mitochondria, xanthine oxidase, peroxisomes, inflammation, phagocytosis, exercise, ischemia, cigarette smoke, environmental pollution, radiation, many drugs and pesticides, industrial solvents and ozone.

Free Radicals: What do they cause?

When there is an imbalance between the amount of free radicals and antioxidants in the body, the result is the condition called oxidative stress. This condition is associated with damage to the various molecular species, including lipids, proteins and nucleic acids. This type of stress can occur in tissues with injuries caused by trauma, infection, heat injuries, hyperoxia, toxins and excessive exercise.

Diseases such as cancer, as well as the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy, and complications in diseases such as diabetes, eye disease age-related and degenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease are linked to free radicals.

The oxidative stress caused by free radicals is also considered an agent in diseases such as atherosclerosis, inflammation, arthritis, vasculitis, glomerulonephritis, lupus, respiratory diseases in adults, heart disease, stroke, intestinal ischemia, hemochromatosis, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) emphysema, gastric ulcers, hypertension and pre-eclampsia, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, muscular dystrophy, alcoholism, smoking-related diseases and many others.

Excessive oxidative stress can also cause oxidation of proteins and lipids, which is associated with changes in structure and function.

Radicals and Aging

One of the most noticeable effects of free radicals in the body's aging. Many studies have shown the role of free radicals in the aging process.

When the chain reaction occurs in the formation of free radicals may occur ligament DNA, which leads to several effects of aging. Moreover, the oxidation of lipids and proteins molecules can lead to wrinkles. The oxidation of LDL, the good cholesterol, caused by free radicals leads to plaque formation in the arteries, causing heart disease and stroke. Thus, free radicals are considered important in the origin of many chronic diseases of aging.

Radicals and drills

It was confirmed during studies that the practice exercises increases the amount of free radicals in the body, due to the higher oxygen consumption. To understand the risks of damage to muscles and other body tissues in athletes and people who exercise regularly, scientists measured the resulting reactions of free radicals in the body athletes.

The results showed that although the exercise increase the production of free radicals, they also improve the body's response to antioxidants, causing the balance is maintained and free radicals are not able to cause damage to the body. However, the results also showed that in cases, for example, of persons who are sedentary during the week and do exercises on weekends, the body still has the same response to antioxidants, so that damage to cells and tissues may occur due to the larger number of free radicals.

Radicals: How to fight?

The best way to combat free radicals and eating foods rich in antioxidants, molecules that interact with free radicals and break the chain reaction before they cause damage to important molecules for the body. The main antioxidants needed by the body are vitamin E, which is present in nuts, seeds, vegetable and fish oils, whole grains, fortified cereals and apricot; Vitamin C, found in citrus fruits, green pepper, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, kale, cantaloupe melon, kiwi and strawberries; and beta-carotene present in animal liver, egg yolk, milk, butter, spinach, carrot, squash, broccoli, taro, tomato, cantaloupe melon, peach and grains.

Other foods rich in these and many other antioxidants are green tea, black tea, mate tea, beans, blueberry, cranberry, blackberry, artichokes, raspberry, apple, cherry, plum, etc.

A balanced diet with 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables should be enough to offer you the amount of antioxidants you need.

Could now understand what are free radicals? Do you believe that you are eating enough foods with antioxidants to prevent them? Comment below.