The following article is a small excerpt from one of my books. I hope you’ll want to learn more and let me help you to get into the best shape of your life.
Medical science reminds us every day that good nutrition and good health go hand in hand. One of the largest growing areas for research today has placed focus on ‘oxidative stress’. This occurs when some molecules take electrons form other molecules and electrons. Substances that can exist with missing electrons are called free radicals. Free radicals damage proteins, DNA and lipids, generally causing mayhem inside cells.
Two common examples of oxidative stress are why a cut apple browns or why iron rusts. This form of destruction is caused by free radicals; so just think of what these unstable molecules can do inside your body.
To understand the way free radicals and antioxidants interact and effect your health, you must first understand a bit about cells and molecules.
Molecules are composed of atoms bonded together; this bonding process is accomplished by the sharing of electrons. When two atoms come together and their electrons pair up, the bond is created. It is a general principle of quantum chemistry that only two electrons can exist in one bond. Specifically, each electron must have opposite spin from the other. Now paired electrons are quiet stable and nearly 100 percent of all electrons in your body exist in a paired state.
Now when a bond is broken by for example radiation, the electrons can stay together…(two electrons go to one atom and the other atom gets none) or they can split up (one electron goes to each atom)…. it’s when these split that they are now called free radicals…. molecules with an unpaired electron. These unpaired electrons are highly energetic and seek out other electrons with which to pair and stealing them in the process. This electron stealing is what makes free radicals very dangerous. When the unpaired electron comes and steals an electron from a paired electron then it becomes a free radical and goes in search of another electron to replace the one it lost and the chain continues.
So how does all this stop? Well antioxidants offer easy electron targets for free radicals. They will trap or stabilize the lone free radical electron and make it stable enough to transport to an enzyme, which combines two stabilized free radicals together to neutralize them and then it is easily cleaned out as waste by your body.
Sound Confusing? Simply put free radicals are molecular thugs, indiscriminately stealing electrons from other molecules and converting them to potentially harmful forms. Free radicals are inherently extra energy. To reduce the energy load, free radicals react and interfere with the cells ability to function normally. In fact free radicals are believed to play a role in more then 60 different health conditions.
When free radicals affect your blood vessels you can have heart attacks and/or strokes. When they knock chunks off your DNA you may get certain forms of cancer. When it affects your skin you get wrinkles and possibly skin cancer…. your joints, arthritis and rheumatism. When free radicals affect your brain you can get dementia and depression and your glands can lead to diabetes.
Can you feel the effects of free radical damage? Not immediately, but unless you take the necessary steps to help counteract the attack of free radicals, you run the risk of allowing cumulative damage to your tissues, joints, organs and blood vessels. And these effects over time will begin to be felt. Reducing your exposure to fee radicals and increasing your intake of antioxidant nutrients can reduce the risk of free radical health problems.
So what causes free radicals to form in the first place? Well Oxygen although essential to life is a source that carries potentially damaging compounds. Other damaging compounds include; your environment (from exposure to ionizing radiation), from industry, sun exposure, cosmic exposure, medical x rays, automotive exhaust, heavy metals (like mercury cadmium and lead), cigarette smoke, alcohol, unsaturated fat, and other compounds from food, water and air.
Normally your body can handle free radicals, but if antioxidants are unavailable, or if the free radical production becomes excessive, damage can occur and it becomes accumulative with age. Antioxidants work in several ways by reducing the energy of the free radicals, stopping the free radical from forming in the first place or interrupting an oxidizing chain to minimize the damage.
Your body normally produces antioxidants to counteract the free radicals, but with our increasingly toxic environment, sometime it just cannot handle the workload. In addition to the enzymes, vitamins and minerals act as antioxidants to help out, like vitamin C and E, Beta-Carotene, Lutein, Lycopene, Vitamin B3 (niacin), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B6, coenzyme Q10 and an amino acid cysteine. Also herbs like bilberry, turmeric, grape seed or pine bark extracts and ginkgo can also provide powerful antioxidant protection for the body.
It’s also known that people who eat adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants have lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and cataracts. Although fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants it is not known exactly which dietary factors are responsible for the beneficial effects, so it’s important to eat whole fruits and vegetables. Vitamins and minerals in nature are never isolated; they are combined with the thousands of other nutrients found in the whole food to work together in ways science is only beginning to understand. To isolate one vitamin or mineral and call it a nutrient is like taking your cars steering wheel or battery and calling it an automobile.
Vitamin and mineral supplements are sometimes necessary for specific needs, but they are not for everyone. Whole foods are the key to good nutrition.
Unfortunately despite the growing evidence on the importance of eating whole fruits and vegetables, less than 10% eat the acquired amount, and those that do try to eat the necessary amount end up eating foods that are over processed, over cooked and far to removed from the farm. And lets face it buying and preparing 5 to 9 servings a day, everyday can be difficult not to mention expensive.
And it’s not your imagination when you think that the number of overweight people is increasing. Our children watch about 10,000 food commercials a year, and with an advertising revenue of over 36 billion dollars promoting, fast foods, snack foods, sugar cereals and candy, its no wonder we grow up eating too much sugar, salt and fat. According to one survey of school age children 25% do not consume at least one serving of vegetables and 50% eat less than one serving of fruit a day.
We as North Americans have become the most overfed and undernourished people in the world and when you eat nutrient deficient food, your stomach may be full, but your body continues to send out the ‘I’M HUNGRY’ message, which leads to overeating and weight gain.
Also as you age you generally lose lean muscle mass and gain more fat. It takes 25 to 30 calories per day to maintain one pound of lean muscle and only 2 calories to look after a pound of fat. Over time this is another cause, which can lead to weight gain.
Drinking plenty of water is also a secret weapon to losing weight as water is a natural appetite suppressant. It also helps to metabolize stored fat, because without enough water, the kidneys can’t function properly, sending some of their workload to your liver. Since one of your livers main functions is to metabolize stored fat, this means they can’t be doing their job function adequately, and this means less fat is metabolized and remains stored in your body.
So a proper balance between exercise and nutrition is key to your health. How you eat can be just as important as what you eat. A few simple changes here and there to your eating habits can go a long way towards creating a healthier you.
I know you want to get in shape and look great. Whatever your fitness goal…to slim down…gain muscle…tone your arms or flatten your tummy…I’m here to help you accomplish your goals and to improve your fitness level. If you have enjoyed this article and the many other free features on my site, and would like some more comprehensive information such as fitness books and CD’s to aid you in achieving your health and fitness goals, please visit my ONLINE STORE where you will find innovative natural health and beauty products to help you become the BEST YOU CAN BE !