By Julia Keiffert
Source: Shared with permission from The Association for Mature American Citizens (Amac)
There are many physiological and pathological processes that can disrupt cellular function. Such processes include smoke entering the body, radiation, and interestingly, cell metabolism. Although these occurrences are very different from each other, they all share a common byproduct known as free radicals.
Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that damage healthy cells in the body. As a result of their unstable number of outer shell electrons, free radicals seek attachment to other electrons in order to become stabilized. During this process, healthy cells are robbed of their electron balance by the free radicals, which damages their cell membranes. When any physiological process occurs within the body, it is common for free radicals to develop. This is because the processes affect atoms in a way that result in their electrons becoming loosely bound to them, thus making it easy for the electrons to be “stolen”. This electron imbalance puts the body under what is called oxidative stress.
As electron “stealing” amongst cells propagates, the body can suffer to an extent of actual gene damage. When mutations occur in DNA, dangerous byproducts, such as cancer, may result. Thus, it is extremely important to maintain a stable electron balance amongst cells, which can be achieved through the intake of antioxidants.
Oftentimes, people hear about the importance of antioxidants, and how they help to fight off disease. This is completely true as antioxidants, including vitamins A, C, and E, donate electrons to the body. With a surplus of electrons floating about, free radicals no longer need to steal electrons from healthy cells. Instead, they take from antioxidants. This prevents healthy cell damage and gene mutation.
Source: United States Department of Agriculture
Avoiding Free Radicals:
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