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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Carmel Aaron: Knock Out Free Radicals

  • Free radicals cause damage to all cells and can be illustrated by a cut apple that quickly turns brown.
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  • We are all so fortunate to live in such an absolutely gorgeous corner of the world.  Because our community is so beautiful many people have chosen to retire here, making this a community that includes a large population of senior citizens.
     
    I am also in that group, and like most people I want to minimize my aging as much as possible.
     
    Just how is that possible?
     
    The Problem
     
    Free radicals cause damage to all cells and can be illustrated by a cut apple that quickly turns brown.   My neighbor gave me another illustration -- it is like a rusting car--creating rust in us.
    Many of the changes that occur as the body ages are caused by free radicals. This damages DNA, then there is protein cross-linkage  and other changes that have been attributed to free radicals. Over time, this damage accumulates and causes us to experience aging.
    The birth and death of cells in the body goes on continuously, 24 hours a day. It is a process that is necessary to keep the body healthy. "Oxidation is a very natural process that happens during normal cellular functions," researcher Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, professor of nutrition at Tufts University in Boston, tells us. 
     
    Super Free Radical Generators
     
    Now we come to a real large problem.  The big problem is cigarette smoke and air pollution, they are considered to be free radical generators.   Cigarette smoke is a huge source of free radicals.  Then we have pesticides, chemicals and other toxins in our food and water, and even from the air. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol also triggers large amounts of free radicals.  These Free Radical Generators cause us to age at an alarming rate, even accelerating age related diseases.
    In time, and with repeated free radical attacks that the body cannot stop, that damage can lead to a host of chronic diseases, which is why we have such an increase in cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's  and Parkinson's disease.
    Stopping smoking is one of the biggest steps anyone can take to preserving their health.
     
    Antioxidants to the rescue
     
     
    Eating foods loaded with antioxidants, can help minimize damage caused by free radicals.   This is why the USDA has advised us to increase our intake of fresh whole and colorful produce.
    Page 2 of 2 - In our modern times, people need to get more antioxidants in their diet to offset all these assaults on the body.  If you live in a city, you breathe the air. The oxidative burden [on the body] is much, much, much higher than it was many years ago. It's a fact of modern life, so we have to take that into consideration and we must deal with our toxic environment.
     
    The Solution?  Antioxidants
     
    The role of vitamin C is to stop the chain reaction before it starts.  It captures the free radical and neutralizes it. Vitamin E is a chain-breaking antioxidant. Wherever it is sitting in a membrane, it breaks the chain reaction."
     
    The body needs a mix of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, C, E, and beta-carotene, to neutralize this free radical assault.
     
    Flavonoids are the biggest class of antioxidants. Researchers have identified some 5,000 flavonoids in various foods, --as we learn from WebMD.
    Polyphenols are a smaller class of antioxidants, which scientists often refer to as "phenols." (Terms like phytonutrient and phytochemical are more generic terms that researchers sometimes use to describe nutrients and chemicals in plants.)
    The right foods contain  nutrients such as quercetin, luteolin, hesperetin, catetchin, even –epigallocetechin.  These are some of the effective antioxidants that have been discovered in whole fresh foods.
    So, antioxidants are like the Calvary coming to the rescue.
     
    For another interesting way to Knock Our Free Radicals go to Squidoo dot com and enter “Rebounding-Improves-Immune Function-Better Body Composition-Strengthens Reduces Stress”  in the search box.
    Build up your immune system and Knock Out those Free Radicals.
    You and those you love will be happy you did.
     
    There was so much to this subject; we will probably revisit free radicals and aging again.
     
     
    Carmel Aaron lives in Heber Springs has a degree in biology and has been certified by Proevity in Nutrition and Glycemic Indexing. She can be reached at AWellnessCoach@Gmail.com)
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