Today we are talking about free radicals

Today we are talking about free radicals

If you’ve been following me for a long time, you know that I consider the environmental factor and lifestyle to be decisive for your health.

You can boost your health every day after day following the cardinal principles of wellbeing: eat balanced and moderate, exercise, accept your limits, do not stop believing that you can change.

Our body has an enemy in aging : it is a natural process, which is hardly accepted because it induces noticeable changes, day after day. The skin becomes less elastic, loses shine, wrinkles. The hair falls out more than in the past, turns gray, fatigue surfaces in the face with wrinkles and spots. We are facing a real cellular decay.

As I often say, your main goal should be to feel good, to live a life full of satisfactions, which you could find in old age. That is, living long and well, with a body still strong and a clear mind, boosting health with correct habits.

Studies are showing that one of the causes of aging (and its visible effects) is the action of free radicals.

What are free radicals and how they work

On a physiological level, free radicals are a waste of energy production that occurs inside cells, in the mitochondria. Mitochondria are like small power plants that release processing waste , i.e. unstable oxygen molecules that bind to other molecules, causing malfunctions.

The one described is a natural process , not all energy processes are linear. The real problem arises when the production of free radicals is stimulated in excess by external factors such as stress, excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs, pollution, sun exposure, an unbalanced diet.

To counteract the action of free radicals, the body produces antioxidants. The imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals, in favor of the latter, causes what is defined as ” oxidative stress “. A condition of imbalance that accelerates aging, with the visible effects that we all know and with other much more serious consequences in the long term.

The damage caused by oxidative stress

Oxidative stress is relevant because it is believed to cause damage to DNA, fatty tissues and proteins. In short, oxidative stress affects the fundamental structures of the organism, favoring the onset of diseases such as:

A slight oxidative stress, the one caused by the natural imbalance, would seem to have protective effects for some diseases such as melanoma; the problem is if the imbalance is severe and lasts for too long.

Combating oxidative stress

As mentioned before, against the damage of oxidative stress , our body deploys an army of antioxidants able to counteract the action of excess free radicals . However, when the imbalance is exacerbated by a bad diet, a lifestyle characterized by excesses and other factors such as environmental pollution, exposure to poisons and radiation, excessive intense and prolonged physical exercise, the defenses begin to collapse.

For this reason it is essential to regulate your lifestyle , stop smoking, do not drink alcohol in excess, accompany physical exercise with an administration of antioxidants (such as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, copper, zinc, selenium) through diet or food supplementation.

Substances that have antioxidant efficacy:

  • Allicin: present in garlic (together with sulfur-based compounds also present in onion).
  • Anthocyanins: flavonoids found in berries, aubergines and grapes.
    Beta-carotene: in pumpkin, apricots, carrot, parsley, spinach.
  • Catechins: present in red wine and tea.
  • Copper: in seafood, milk, dried fruit, lean meat.
  • Cryptoxanthin: natural carotenoid found in pumpkin, mango and red pepper.
  • Flavonoids in general: contained in beverages such as tea, green tea, red wine and in citrus fruits, onions and apples.
  • Isoflavonoids: found in tofu, soy, milk, peas, lentils.
  • Lycopene: contained mainly in tomatoes and watermelon.
  • Lignans: polyphenols present in bran, saesame seeds, whole grains and vegetables in general.
  • Manganese: seafood, milk, nuts, lean meat are rich in it.
  • Polyphenols: especially in oregano and thyme.
  • Selenium: seafood, lean meat, wholemeal pasta and other whole grains rich in fiber.
  • Vitamin A : liver, carrots, sweet potatoes, egg yolk and milk.
  • Vitamin C : citrus fruits, black currant, broccoli, mango, spinach, strawberries, peppers and kiwi.
  • Vitamin E : vegetable oils, whole grains.
  • Zinc: present in lean meat, nuts, milk, seafood.

The principles of proper nutrition are based on the right balance between macronutrients, giving preference to fresh and healthy foods, moderating meat and abolishing refined sugar and saturated fatty acids, in favor of whole carbohydrates and extra virgin olive oil.

As you have noticed, several foods rich in antioxidants are part of a proper diet and are real “health enhancers”. Consumed regularly, favor the contrast of free radicals delaying , above all, the visible effects of aging.

The diet must be accompanied by a regular lifestyle . Since free radicals affect aging, as well as diseases that can affect the quality of your life, you will certainly notice the difference between a moderate diet and one made of unnecessary excesses and bad choices. . Even browsing the web you can see the effects on the skin of quitting smoking or giving up alcohol.

  • Exercise regularly, starting with a physical activity that you like.
  • Avoid smoking, even passive smoking.
  • When cleaning or gardening, do not use harsh chemicals, use regular face and hand protection and avoid inhaling pesticides.
  • Everyone likes tanning, but excess sun exposure in the middle of the day damages our skin. Supplement vitamin D if you do not expose yourself, still use protection in the warm months.
  • As much as possible, reduce exposure to pollution, go for a run or walk in unpolluted places, favor outdoor experiences.
  • Moderate alcohol, do not overuse self-medication.
  • Get adequate sleep without underestimating the benefits of sleep.
  • Eat in moderate quantities, always preferring fresh foods, alternating white meats and refined carbohydrates, fish and legumes, vegetables and fruit.
  • Try to contain the stress that fuels inflammatory processes by promoting oxidative stress.

You have many weapons at your disposal which, if used effectively, can delay aging, promote a healthier and longer life, containing the damage of generic and oxidative stress .

If you have found it difficult to make a turn so far, it is because you probably don’t know where to start. The body, unlike what you might think, offers you many opportunities to correct your course and limit the damage.

Cells can regenerate even at an older age, you can take advantage of the neuroplasticity of the brain to get rid of bad habits, you can boost health over time, with a sustainable path that can prevent the worst.

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