Vegetables and fruits are full of antioxidants and phytonutrients that are literally a cure for excessive free radicals and oxidative stress in the body, which are one of the main known causes of cancer and heart disease among many other health challenges. In this article, I will give a brief overview of how you can maintain a healthy balance of these elements in your body.
Free radicals are unstable atoms that form in the body in relation to oxidation and can occur as a natural byproduct of many processes in the body. They can form in excess by external sources such as unhealthy dietary fats, stress, environmental toxins and more. A little exposure is actually good to build up your body’s internal strength, but too much causes a lot of trouble. In modern times, most of us have far too much exposure to these free radicals unless we are careful to take good care of our health.
When there are too many, free radicals can be extremely reactive and destructive to the body’s proper functioning. It’s important to be aware that our genes aren’t set in stone, they are highly susceptible to environmental factors like these. At the cellular level, free radicals can do serious damage to DNA, cell membranes, lipids, carbohydrates, and protein molecules. When the ratio of free radicals to antioxidants gets too high, along with other factors that help regulate them, oxidative stress can really get us into trouble.
Where do free radicals come from?
Some of the free radicals contributing to oxidative stress form from normal metabolic processes in the body. Even exercise can cause them to form. Some cooking processes can add to free radical production, like grilling meat. The blackened parts of grilled meats are chock-full of free radicals. In addition to the food-based free radicals relating to unhealthy fats (learn more about healthy fats here), we can get added exposure to them from environmental toxins, chemicals, water pollutants, radiation (like X-rays and air travel), cigarette smoke, pesticides, air pollution, and a whole host of other toxins. We are all exposed to these on a daily basis, to varying degrees.
Obviously, the more exposure you have, the more at risk you are of developing excessive free radicals along with their negative effects. It is of course important to minimize your exposure to these dangerous influences, but here is some good news. Antioxidants are the primary method of wrangling and neutralizing free radicals, thereby helping to shift oxidative stress.
Antioxidant molecules can safely interact with free radicals and terminate the chain reaction that causes oxidation before other fundamental and healthy molecules are damaged in the body. As such, they are essentially one of the body’s primary antidotes to disease-causing forces.
A natural solution for wrangling free radicals in the body
So, what is a primary source of antioxidants for our bodies? Yep, as I shared earlier, vegetables and fruit.
Since we know vegetables and fruit are full of antioxidants, then it goes to figure that the more vegetables and fruit we eat, the more hard work they can do to clean up free-radical damage in the body. If we get enough—depending on the toxic load, of course—antioxidants can stop damage before it even starts. This is why, in our modern life with so many toxic exposures, it’s so important that we eat as many vegetables (and some fruit) as we can, and in as many varieties as we can.
So enjoy a rainbow of vegetables and fruits in your diet to help maintain good health and keep those toxic forces in check!