Have you ever heard of the free radical theory of aging? This widely accepted theory explains how various molecules that make up our DNA, proteins and cells can become damaged by unstable molecular fragments known as free radicals. According to the theory, it is the process of free radicals stripping electrons from nearby molecules which make up these various components within our cells that can lead to permanent damage, affecting how efficient the thousands of biochemical reactions within our cells can occur. In essence, this is what aging is (Biochemical Inefficiency). Since the theory was first proposed back in the 1950’s by Dr. Denham Harman many other researchers within the relating fields of biochemistry, gerontology and physics, along with the hundreds of medical schools, research institutes and renowned health organizations have also come to an agreement about the validity of this theory. Some have even provided additional evidence that has further strengthened it. According to most researches, it is estimated that between 80-90% of Chronic Degenerative Diseases (such as Arthritis, Osteoporosis, Diabetes Mellitus, Cardiovascular Diseases, Cerebrovascular Diseases, crohn’s Disease, Emphysema, and many types of Cancer) are the result of damage accumulated from free radicals.
Free radicals are often given a bad reputation, being referred to as “Selfish Villains” as they “steal” electrons from other “innocent” molecules. However, what most people fail to realize is that free radical reactions are actually needed (i.e. the process of oxidizing food to create energy), in order for the numerous biochemical reactions to take place, which make life possible. The problems associated with free radicals, accelerated aging and degenerative disease occur when the number of free radicals generated within or introduced into the body accumulate to levels much higher than the body’s cells can appropriately handle, by keeping them “in quarantine” and “stabilizing” them. It is the various antioxidants within foods, and produced within our body, which help with the process of neutralizing and stabilizing free radicals, thus preventing and slowing down the progression of the aging process, and hence, the development of degenerative diseases. Antioxidants, which number in the thousands, can be viewed as “generous donors”, donating electrons to stabilize free radicals which can eventually render them harmless.
There are many different types of antioxidants. Some are classified as phytochemicals which exist in plants foods. Some vitamins, such as A, C and E can function as antioxidants. Others are simply created within the body from various amino acids, vitamins and minerals. There are numerous studies linked to the Organic Center’s Website, from various universities and institutes, documenting and showing how organically grown produce tends to have higher levels of various antioxidants within them when compared to their conventionally grown counterparts. This is just another great reason to consume foods that have been grown and harvested according to organic standards established by various certification agencies such as the USDA. Besides food, a person can also help to balance the “playing field” and prevent the body from being overwhelmed with the various free radicals (whether generated from within our body or introduced into the body from the environment) by supplementing extra antioxidants in the form of popular nutrients such as Grape Seed antioxidants, Turmeric, Green Tea Extract, Vitamins A, C or E, Bioflavonoids, Astaxanthin, R-Lipoic Acid, Resveratrol, Co-Q10, NAC, Glutathione, Bilberry extract, Carotenoids, and Green food or fruit powders that contain a high ORAC value.
Many studies performed on the health benefits of antioxidants are often associated with the measuring of various inflammatory markers. Many of these studies show a correlation between an increase in the intake of antioxidants and a decline of certain inflammatory compounds within the blood. Interestingly, it is often reported from customers of the Wellness Department that antioxidant formulas tend to help with alleviating pain and inflammation in their joints.