Antioxidant - Our Protector
WHAT IS AN ANTIOXIDANT?
Antioxidants are your body’s defense against free radicals –they are your body’s protector.
Antioxidants are molecules that have EXTRA electrons that they can give to free radicals, which eliminate their harmful effects. The free radical becomes stable now having paired electrons (“happy atom”). Once the free radical has been neutralized it ceases to create damage to the cells, and the chain reaction of creating more free radicals stops. Antioxidants are your body’s defense against free radicals.
Where do antioxidants come from?
Some, but by no means all, antioxidants are produced by the body. However due to the toxic world we live in our bodies are overwhelmed by free radicals. In addition as we age our bodies become less efficient at producing its own supply of antioxidants. Antioxidants, however, are found in abundance in fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately most people do not eat enough foods rich in the nutrients necessary to properly feed their cells, and provide their bodies with a variety of antioxidants to protect their cells from free radicals.
Antioxidants are specific vitamins and minerals that protect our body's cells from free radicals.We must put antioxidants into our bodies EVERY DAY to keep us constantly protected.
Areall fruits and vegetables created equal?
The answer is NO… While "an apple a day" is good practice it is not that simple! There are literally hundreds of different kinds of antioxidants; each antioxidant has a different role to play in protecting the body. In addition there thousands of different biologically active compounds present in fruits and vegetables, all providing their own health benefits. That is why we need a variety of fruits and vegetables in our daily diet.
It is also important to understand that antioxidants do not work alone, in fact they work in a synergistic network, each supporting and enhancing the benefits of another. It is for this reason that it is critical to maintain a constant supply of a variety of antioxidants to the body.
There is a common saying among people trying to lose or maintain weight; “the 80/20 rule”… eat well for 80 percent of the time, the remaining 20 percent of the time eat anything you want. While this may work for some to maintain their ideal weight, when it comes to the functioning of the body, this is not an effective strategy to create dynamic health.
Eating sufficient, or even an abundance of fruit and vegetables 4 or 5 days a week, will still leave the body exposed to attack from free radicals and nutrient deficiencies the remaining part of the week. It is perhaps this inconsistency in supplying our bodies, the necessary nutrients, and maintaining a balance of antioxidants and free radicals throughout our entire lives, which allows sickness and disease an opportunity to be created.
PROTECTING OUR DNA
In the previous pages we learned how our genes are the instructions for creating and maintaining life, written in our DNA. We also learned how free radicals damage the DNA, which effectively corrupts the genes (scrambles the instructions.) We also learned how the altering or mutation of a gene, which results in the disruption in the function of a protein, can disrupt normal development or cause a medical condition. Antioxidants, by disarming free radicals which damage our DNA, protect us from sickness and disease.
SWITCHING ON OUR GENES
In the page titled “DNA to Proteins” I explained how the information contained in our genes has to be “switched on” (gene expression) for the effect of those instructions to be created. Antioxidants also perform the function of a messenger; sending signals to our promoter genes (the instructions which create proteins that switch on other genes) to create a protein that is needed by the cell - in this manner antioxidants also regulate and initiate gene expression.
Lester Packer PhD. Head of Packer Laboratory, University of California at Berkeley states…
“By controlling free radicals, antioxidants can make the difference between life and death, as well as influence how fast and how well we age. The more you understand about antioxidants and how they work, the more you will understand and appreciate the profound role they play in keeping you healthy and happy. Their role in the human body is nothing less than miraculous.”