ANTIOXIDANTS & FREE RADICALS
Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH
We have learned about atoms and how God used those perfectly stable atoms to form molecules, DNA, cells, tissues, organs, and the entire perfect human body of Adam, who originally was designed to live for ever in a perfect environment.
Unfortunately, when sin entered the world, it was followed by death which was also the result of the degradation of previously perfectly stable atoms. As a result, human body cells are today constantly bombarded by unstable and very harmful atoms known as free radicals.
What are free radicals?
Free radicals are atoms or molecules (groups of atoms) of oxygen, nitrogen or another type, but they are unstable and damaged atoms, as they have unpaired electrons that make them unstable and highly reactive.
There are many types of free radicals, for instance oxygen, nitrogen, or other types, but oxygen radicals are the most common ones.
Why free radicals are so harmful to human body?
An atom’s condition and behaviour is determined by the number of electrons in its outermost shell. When the outermost shell is complete, the atom is stable and not reactive. But, if the outermost shell is not full, it becomes unstable and reactive. Free radicals form when one of the weak bonds between electrons is broken and an uneven number of electrons remain. As a result such damaged atom will now try steal an electron from stable atoms or neighboring molecules of atoms to stabilize itself. Unfortunately, although by gaining another electron this atom stabilises itself, it leaves its victim short of an electron converting it to a bad free radical, or a thief, which will steal electrons from good atoms. This process triggers a very harmful enormous chain reaction or a free radical cascade that quickly wreaks havoc on human cells and organs. It is estimated that such radical chain reaction can trigger 6.023 x 1021 billion molecules to react per second!
What type of damage do free radicals cause?
This dangerous radical domino effect causes a lot of damage in human body. It damages cell’s DNA (genetic material) thus converting normal cells to abnormal ones. If these abnormal cells with damaged DNA multiply, they create tumours and finally Cancers and other problems.
Radicals also harm cellular mitochondria (the energy generating power stations of human cells). By damaging cellular engines radical make us feel tired as our brain and muscle cells can’t produce enough energy.
By imposing harmful effect on cellular mitochondria and DNA radicals weaken also the immune system cells thus greatly increasing the risk of developing cancer, autoimmune diseases, allergies, or chronic inflammations and frequent infections.
Radicals also damage cell membranes, including the membranes that make the inner lining of arteries. As a result cholesterol builds up much faster in those damaged arteries leading to heart attacks and strokes.
Internal sources of free radicals
– Our body naturally produces free radicals as a by-product of cellular energy production (from glucose and oxygen). This is similar to a car that produces toxic exhaust fumes as the waste product of the combustion of petrol. Likewise when our cells generate energy using glucose and oxygen they also make some by-products in the form of free radicals.
But, does this mean that energetic exercise is a bad idea? No, if exercise was harmful we wouldn’t be constantly bombarded with information providing evidence about amazing health benefits of regular physical activity. If exercise-produced free radicals are bad, why do studies show that the more we exercise, the longer we’ll live? A regular 20-mile-a-week runners doesn’t have to worry about free radicals overproduction simply because his body produces plenty of antioxidant enzymes to deal with free radicals. Therefore, the more healthy type of exercise we practice, the more our body turns into a fortress against free radicals.
According to Mark Hyman, MD, “Exercise increases glutathione levels and thereby helps boost your immune system, improve detoxification and enhance your body’s own antioxidant defences. You can also eat glutathione-boosting foods. And you can take glutathione-boosting supplements.”
On the other hand, it is true that an excessive exercise such as hard body building or a typical professional sports training can be dangerous as it generates too many radicals for the body to handle. This is one of the reasons why from time to time we hear about professional athletes that develop chronic diseases such as cancer: “Marathon runners, however, are facing a tremendous amount of oxidative stress and immune dysfunction. It means that for them, the oxidative stress goes beyond what their bodies can cope with.” In this case, if you can’t or don’t want to give up on excessive exercise you should help your body by providing it with good quality antioxidants from both foods and in the supplemental form, including alpha lipoic acid, acetyl l-carnitine, coenzyme Q10, etc.
– Emotional stress, fears, anxiety, depression, mood changes, irritability, agitation, and other negative feelings and emotions significantly increase free radical load on the body. The mechanism hidden behind it is not clearly understood, but what we know is that stress induces the release of stress hormones (adrenalin and cortisone) and increased levels of these hormones are responsible for generating free radicals.
– Also our immune system produces free radicals as it uses them to kill bacteria, viruses, cancer cells and fungi. When we get sick from time to time everything is under control, but problem starts with chronic health conditions that last longer, such as chronic inflammation, arthritis, cancer, asthma, chronic sinusitis, bronchitis, hay fever, allergy, intolerances to gluten and lactose, etc. In such cases the immune system becomes chronically over-activated, and as a result it constantly produces free radicals leading to an extra burden of free radical stress in the body and related harmful effects. It is therefore, very important to recover from chronic diseases and also avoid acute conditions by the means of healthy lifestyle, stress control, consuming more raw vegetables, avoiding sugar, dairy, bad fats, supplementing with vitamin D3, selenium, zinc, magnesium, B complex, B12, chlorella, and various herbs.
– Liver produces free radicals as it breaks down compounds and detoxifies the body.
External sources of free radicals
First of all we need to do our best to avoid the external sources – everything which causes overproduction of free radicals:
– Preservatives and bad chemicals in foods
– Herbicides and pesticides
– Prescription drugs
– Pollution and radiation
– Heavy metals
– Stimulants (alcohol, smoking, illegal drugs, caffeine, etc.)
– Trans and hydrogenated fats (refined oils, margarine, chips, fried foods, etc.)
– Refined sugar and sweeteners
– Regular consumption of heated animal protein (dairy, meat) also activates immune system (leucocytosis) leading to overproduction of free radicals.
Ways to reduce free radical damage
– Since the more toxins liver has to neutralise the more radicals it will make we need to help our liver and bring it some relief by detoxifying the body through drinking distilled water, raw vegetables juices and herbal teas, ingesting chlorella, charcoal, by avoiding toxins, medications (if possible), stimulants, by sweating, etc.
– Because regular consumption of heated animal protein (found in dairy and meat) also activates immune system (triggering leucocytosis) and leading to overproduction of free radicals we should avoid or at least significantly reduce consumption of these products as well as overheated plant foods.
– We should do our best to recover from any chronic inflammation such as allergies, arthritis, cancer, hay fever, autoimmune diseases, bronchitis, etc.
In summery try to avoid sources of free radicals: Preservatives and bad chemicals in foods and supplements, Herbicides and pesticides, Prescription drugs, Pollution and radiation, Heavy metals, Stimulants (alcohol, smoking, illegal drugs), Trans and hydrogenated fats (refined oils, margarine, chips, fried foods, etc.), Refined sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to our cells caused by free radicals. They are sometimes called “free-radical scavengers.” Antioxidants are compounds produced in our body and found in foods or nutritional supplements.
Internal sources of antioxidants
Like it was with regards to the sources of radicals, also in case of antioxidants there are internal and external sources.
Our body makes its own powerful antioxidants such as Glutathione, Catalase, Superoxide dismutase (SOD), or Uric Acid, excess of which leads to gout, is also a potent antioxidant. Unfortunately since we are exposed to so many free radicals due to stress, pollution, junk food and other sources, the demand for antioxidants is much higher now and therefore we need to help our body by providing it with additional antioxidants in the form of unrefined plant products, super foods, super grasses, herbs and good quality supplements.
ORAC value list (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity)
Below I have included list of best natural sources of antioxidants in descending order. I have removed numbers after noticing that there are big differences between them depending on sources. Those that are marked in bold are in my opinion the best sources as they are not only very high in antioxidants but at the same time free from side effects an can be consumed in larger amounts (unlike cloves, cinnamon, cocoa, etc.). Also keep in mind that the ORAC values of any and also the same food can differ due to growing conditions, processing, storage, etc. Usually the fresher the food the higher in antioxidants it should be.
Sorghum bran raw
Acai berry dried
Rice bran crude
Kidney beans red
Please keep in mind that although certain mentioned in the list above foods or spices are very high in antioxidants, yet at the same time they can’t be regarded as good sources because they can’t be consumed in large enough amounts due to toxicity or harmful effect.
The best examples are clove, cinnamon and cocoa powder. Cloves, for instance, contain eugenol which according to some studies promotes abnormal internal bleeding. Allergy is another common side effect caused by eugenol. Can cause irregular electrical activity in the brain, making us vulnerable to one-time or multiple seizures. Causes inflammation of mucous membranes of the mouth and stomach. Several studies have revealed that it can cause extensive damage to our gum, and teeth. In men, clove can cause erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation.
On the other hand, Bee Pollen, Oregano, Black Raspberry, Turmeric, Pomegranate, Acai, Parsley, Blackberry, or Spirulina are much better and excellent sources because, although they are not as high in antioxidants as clove, yet at the same time they are not harmful and can be consumed in larger quantities.
Key supplemental antioxidants
Here is the list of the most effective antioxidants in the form of supplements:
Pycknogenol, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Acetyl L-Carnitine, Coenzyme Q10, Resveratrol, Astaxanthin, Quercetin, Zeaxanthin, Lycopene, Lutein, Selenium, Manganese, Chlorophyll, Chlorella, Spirulina, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Beta-Carotene, Copper, Flavonoids, etc.
How antioxidants prevent free radicals from causing oxidative damage
Free radicals are harmful because they are deprived of paired electrons and as a result they steal electrons from other atoms, making them bad zombies, thus triggering a very damaging to cells in our body chain reaction. Anti-oxidants, known as free radical scavengers, are the best and the only remedy against free radical damage, because they have the ability to neutralize these destructive radical particles. They do it by donating to radicals their own electrons. In this way antioxidants transform bad radicals into healthy and good atoms or molecules (groups) of atoms. However, donating their own electrons to free radicals, antioxidants themselves eventually perish in the process.
This self-sacrificing achievement of antioxidants that transform evil free radicals making them good again, reminds me the work of Jesus. According to the Word of God, we all became like those bad free radicals, as by nature we are all deprived of the electron of God’s Spirit and the unselfish Agape love, and as a result we are born with egocentric, spiritually-dead natures. But, Christ came to our radical world to give us back what was stolen from us in the Garden of Eden by the first super evil originator of all radicals. He donated us the electron of God’s Spirit and selfless love, making spiritually alive and transforming anyone who believes and accepts this supreme gift of God. And, like those good antioxidants that provide electrons to radicals and save them at the cost of own existence, the Son of God also paid the price for our salvation by going through the horrible experience of the second death.
Read more about this subject in the GOSPEL OF FREEDOM >
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