What are antioxidants – what do they do?

March 6, 2018 7:14 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Eat clean. Eat natural. Eat organic. Treat our bodies like temples. We still can’t escape the truth – we’ve all got a host of little traitors inside us. Ganging up on us (particularly as we get older), damaging our cells and pushing us on the path towards unpleasant, degenerative diseases: they’re called free radicals, and they’re out to get us all!

Can antioxidants fight free radicals?

Free radicals are the little traitors inside us all

Free radicals are unstable oxygen compounds in our bodies. They seek other atoms or molecules with which to bond, beginning a process called ‘oxidative stress’ (or ‘oxidation’). Over time, they break down our cells, leading to accelerated aging and a whole host of nasty conditions.

Free radicals occur naturally in our bodies, but they can be limited in various ways. One of the major weapons in the fight against them is another type of molecule, found (equally naturally) in the food we eat. Their name? Antioxidants.

How do antioxidants work?

Antioxidants are molecules that work against oxidative stress by ‘donating’ an electron to free radicals (you’ll understand that we’re simplifying the science here a touch). By eating a diet rich in antioxidants, researchers argue, it’s possible to limit the production of free radicals and lessen their effects. (It is, seemingly, impossible to eat too many antioxidants: scientists in this experiment found that once our bodies have taken on as many antioxidants as they need, the extra do us neither any good nor any harm.)

Antioxidants can fight off free radicals

Antioxidant defence proteins

Does everyone agree?

If there’s a health issue on which anyone is in agreement, we’ve yet to discover it. There’s disagreement over the role and importance of antioxidants, as there is on many other subjects. Some scientists argue that free radicals are vital to our bodies’ functioning, because they’re the warming signals for the body to start its own repair work. They say that we shouldn’t attempt to mask these signals by ‘mopping up’ free radicals with extra antioxidants.

Other scientists are concerned that oxidation is just part of the picture. It causes inflammation, which they feel, is the real culprit behind many diseases.

We’re not scientists at Naturally Good Food, or molecular biologists. However, we are absolutely sure that the best health is promoted by eating natural unprocessed foods, rich in vitamins and minerals. If these happen to be particularly rich in antioxidants (as many of our products are), then well, that can only be a happy coincidence!

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This post was written by Yzanne

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