Free radicals, antioxidants – we talk & hear a lot about these, but how many of us actually know what’s the fuss all about? Meaning, how many of us actually know what are free radicals, what they do & how can antioxidants protect us from these nasty mfs.
What I wanna do is explain the whole thing as simple as possible – using complicated language doesn’t make anyone smart, as much as some people like to think it does. Therefore, I wanna talk about it in a language that doesn’t make our brains explode, like I’d talk about it with a friend.
Because that’s what we are, aren’t we? Aren’t we?! 🙂
And if a friend came to me & asked me what are free radicals & antioxidants and how does it all work, I sure wouldn’t be all like – Oh sir, it’s exceedingly abstruse procedure.. You get the point. So, lets bring this exceedingly abstruse procedure to where it matters – normal conversation.
What happens is that our lovely oxygen, apart from being of life-importance for us, is also a very reactive fella. It goes around just waiting to cause some trouble; because of its characteristics, it gives its energy quickly to responsive partners. They use it for other metabolic reactions & the process of this energy transmission is – oxidation.
When the oxidation process happens, certain substances may show up that are agressive to our cells – these substances are free radicals. They easily react with other substances in their environment, which in our bodies happen to be fatty acids from our cell membranes. When they react with these fatty acids, they change + destroy them.
You see, free radicals happen to have a free electron. The thing with electrons is – they don’t like being lonely, they prefer being connected to another electron because thats economic for their energy use.
Therefore, this free electron from free radicals move around searching for another electron to pair up with – and they end up attacking our cell membranes to steal electron from them. When this happens, free radical is happy because it now has his electron buddy. However, during this process another electron – from our fatty acids, loses it’s pair, which means that a new free radical is created.
When this new free radical is created, it craves its own electron buddy & goes searching for it. As you can see, this created a chain reaction, which results is many destroyed cell membranes. During this chain reaction many substances + compounds in our bodies end up damaged.
Free radicals occure naturally all around us & we cannot avoid them; they occur in all metabolic processes. Especially in our current environments with less-than-perfect air, foods, cigarette smoke etc. we are constantly exposed to them.
Easiest example to notice exactly what oxidation process looks like is – apple. When we cut an apple in half & leave it on the kitchen counter for a couple of hours, what will we find? That’s right, it’s gonna be brown on the surface – that’s because for these couple of hours there was a battle going on between free radicals & the apple. Where the brown surface exists is where apple oxidated, radicals attacked.
Of course, when you leave an apple to the mercy of free radicals a couple of days, it’s gonna.. die. What happens to apple, happens to us as well. We kinda want to minimize oxidation processes going on in our bodies.
Soooooo, what do we do about it?
Well, our bodies are naturally equipped with enzymes to stop these chain reactions by catching nasty free radicals that cause trouble.
Even better, we can actively assist our bodies in fighting free radicals by consuming antioxidants!
Vitamins & all sorts of plant compounds can help our bodies to stop these chain reactions. This is why it’s incredibly important to eat whole, wonderful foods our Mother Earth gave us. 🙂
Many plants are incredibly rich in anioxidants, and vitamins C + E which are also antioxidants.
Anyways, that’s nice to know, but – how do these antioxidants help us?
Glad you’ve asked!
Let’s take vitamin E as an example. So, you ate your olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado – what happens now?
Vitamin E travels around & find its spot to sit in the cell membranes. And waits. 😀
It sits there because fatty acids from cell membranes are a favorite attack spot for free radicals. So, for every ca. 1000 fatty acids will be one molecule of vitamin E waiting.
When a free radical comes to steal electrons, vitamin E will give it one of its own free electrons as a reaction partner. If attack already happened, vitamin E will give its electron to the damaged fatty acids to fix it, which will prevent chain reaction.
Vitamin C has a special structure that allows it to give its own electrons to vitamin E without becoming unstable. This is why vitamin C is needed for regeneration of vitamin E.
Beta-carotene is another example of powerful antioxidant. It travels around & hunts free radicals – it takes over their energy & channels it off as heat.
Now you know exactly why all these antioxidants in my recipes are super useful. I see them as little heroes swimming around in our bodies searching for troublemakers.
I hope this little story inspires you to include antioxidant-rich foods in your every meal – because they do matter SO MUCH. Food can heal you or kill you. Let’s use it for the good – after all, food is exists to serve us a fuel for our vehicles.
The processes that happen in our bodies are so fascinating! I feel like the more we learn about our bodies, the easier it gets to see them as more than a number on a scale & love them unapologetically!
So the next time you feel down because those pants got smaller, instead of depleting yourself of nutrients that help keeping you healthy, love your body for what it is & go have some fun shopping!
Do you find processes in our bodies fascinating as well? Are you mindful about getting enough antioxidants in your diet?
I wanna know, girlfriend!
Lots of love,