September 2010
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Antioxidants are interesting if you take the time to understand them. Some companies sell antioxidant supplements, but the best sources are wholesome foods you eat as a part of a colorful diet. To get some idea of how important antioxidants are, it is necessary to find out about something called free radicals.

Free radicals are oxygen molecules that have gone through a process that puts an electric charge on them. Sometimes this charge is caused by environmental pollutants such as smog, cigarette smoke, or radiation. Once the oxygen molecules are charged, they react with the body’s cells, incorporating some of the other molecules’ electrons into their own outer electron ring.

Without the help of antioxidants, the free radicals get started and a chain reaction ensues. The damage can become extensive through many cells, including the membranes of the cells, and even the DNA. Through more of this oxidative stress occurs, when free radicals become so overwhelming to the system that widespread damage and disease take over.

Some of the diseases and conditions that can be caused by exposure to too many free radicals are: heart disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and many other diseases associated with aging. Free radicals even damage the skin. However, antioxidants can stop the damage of free radicals.

There are many different vitamins, minerals, and other natural chemicals that make up the category of antioxidants. Carotenoids and polyphenols are two more. You can get these antioxidants by eating a healthy, varied diet. The reasons you need antioxidants have to do with the actions of free radicals.

Antioxidants have molecules that interact with the free radicals in a way that ties them up. That way they are no longer free to barge in on other molecules that would be damaged by losing an electron. The antioxidants grab hold of these free radicals and carry them away so that they cannot harm the body’s important cells.

You can fight off infections and diseases if you eat proper foods with antioxidants to rid yourself of excess free radicals. You can slow the aging process so that your skin looks and feels younger. By doing everything possible to decrease your exposure to pollutants that might cause free radicals and eating a good diet, you can have a healthier, longer life.

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