Understanding Free Radicals and Antioxidants

Free Radicals- Antioxidants role - SimplyLeaner
Free Radicals- Antioxidants role - SimplyLeaner

A free radical molecule exists in every food substance we consume, including natural and manufactured medicines, even particles in the air and environmental pollutants. As part of the metabolic processes, we need them, in controlled measures.

Our body creates free radicals to help breakdown the consumed foods. Our immune system generates them to fight infection and viruses by defusing the bacterium, speeding up the elimination of toxins from our body.

As oxygen molecules split into a single atom with unpaired electrons, they create an unstapled radical; also referred to as uncharged molecules. Since electrons prefer pairs, radicals hunt for another electron, causing a chain reaction of electron thief, damaging cell tissue or protein structures.

The problem begins as the damaged cells seek to steal electrons from other body cells, causing a chain reaction, generating free radical cells set to trigger illnesses and premature aging.

Antioxidants are the primary controller for preventing the damage caused by a free radical. They interact blocking the chain reaction to stop the potential damage. A deficiency of antioxidants, allows the development of the unpaired molecules, giving the mutated cells dominance over healthy cells.

The best preventative is a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle limiting the volume of fried foods, alcohol and tobacco; major contributors to developing dangerous radicals.

Types of Free Radicals in Human Body

Four types of radicals in our body include the most common form, known as reactive oxygen species (ROS).  Oxygen is vulnerable to uncharged molecules formations and involved with the overall aging process responsible for cell membrane (skin) damages due to oxidation.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine defines ROS as:

Superoxide – An extra electron in this free radical, aids to damage mitochondria cells; responsible for breaking down nutrients for the cell.

Hydroxyl anions – Is secluded, but powerful, reacting only to molecules within its vicinity, leading to a shorter lifespan.

Hydrogen peroxide – Is not a free radical, but a vital participant in the production of reactive oxygen species.

Singlet oxygen – Forms in the immune system causing oxidation and LDL cholesterol.

Biomedical studies have connected oxidative stress (OS) to ROS, contributing it to disease commencement and its progressive advancement. Sometimes, OS occurs so rapidly, the ROS spreads to other parts of the body, leading to severe and irreversible damage. The major cause of OS is a lack of antioxidants stabilizing radicals.

Although our body produces antioxidants as a natural defense against these uncharged molecules, sometimes the internal quantities are insufficient protection. This is where the external supply of antioxidants plays a critical role. Developing a healthy diet comprised of antioxidants is the first step of prevention.

Some antioxidants attach to our DNA as a defensive protection, but an excessive supply of unpaired electrons can affect the duplication process linked to our DNA altering the gene’s design.

Antioxidants have the ability to destroy cancer cells prevalent to the reactions between radicals and DNA mutations. Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s are associated with scavenging healthy cells.

What Causes Free Radicals in Human Body?

The most common cause of the uncharged molecules is a poor diet and excessive behaviors; smoking, alcohol, lack of exercise, overexposure to ultraviolet rays and air pollutants.

Free radical sources are associated with pathological diseases relating to the processes and changes in our organs and tissues leading to illness. This sector of science, study the cause and effect, seeking medical intervention, prevention, and cures.

Health conditions include diabetes, cardiovascular, cancer and intestinal diseases. Reactions from injury causing inflammation, infection and illnesses such as asthma, arthritis and cataracts can cause our immune system to work overtime and weaken, triggering an aggressive production of unpaired electrons.

Free Radical Species

ROS (reactive oxygen) and reactive nitrogen (RNS) species share similar traits; both are reactive to oxygen, they originate and grow from the inside of our body and they are scavengers. They react to external sources like industrial chemicals, tobacco and environmental elements, interacting with our body’s internal components to cause change. The internal chemical reactions launch unpaired electrons to attack healthy cells altering the cell’s composition.

The most dangerous species is the ROS. These molecules are unstable with only one electron and programmed to attack healthy tissue cells to gain a paired electron. The taking of another electron is the process of oxidation.

Added to the hit list of oxidation are life-threatening and chronic diseases and less harmful health conditions quickening the aging process causing wrinkled skin, graying hair, balding and stiffness of the joints in various parts of the body. Minor health conditions include dandruff and hangovers.

By keeping a balance between radicals and antioxidants, you help your body maintain a healthier state of well-being.  Sometimes, oxidative stress is short-term—meaning, you can prevent and repair some of the damage, whether chemical change or normal aging causes it.

Do Free Radicals Cause Ageing - SimplyLeaner
Do Free Radicals Cause Ageing – SimplyLeaner

Facts About Free Radicals Theory Of Aging

Over the years, several health studies have presented verifiable facts. Many of the details still pose inquires and submissions for further studies about predictability, prevention and cures for living with radicals.

Keep in mind, the majority of these studies are laboratory trials with animals and not humans – although we share similar biological attributes, the outcomes may be different due to our choice or availability of specific uncontrolled lifestyle behaviors.

Our biological system reacts to genetic inheritance, the production of proteins and hormones, immune responses and cell growth. Adverse effects are factual, by increasing ROS and RNS, we decrease the body’s organic antioxidant defenses expanding the life cycle and strength of radicals.

Unpaired electron molecules interfere with the degenerative processes active during sleep, when the cellular repair systems work to eliminate and restore the body’s balances to a healthier state. Three observations report a correlation between the accumulated oxidative damages and our biological aging processes.

FACT 1  

An increase in oxidative damage as a normal part of the biological aging process, including the regulation of hormones ensuring proper body functions when we’re younger. As we age, the body produces fewer hormones causing a decline in the body’s ability to repair and regulate itself. A supply of antioxidants may reverse or delay the effects of aging.

FACT 2  

Related to genetics and the basic imperfections surrounding the human body. Heredity presents some level of predictability of these influenced mutations being responsible for the damage causing the biological reaction of uncharged molecules. Our genetic codes have a predetermination for physical and mental functions. Heredity also controls the speed of aging.

According to each individual’s biological timer, variations depend on what happens during early development, the quality of life, hygiene, diet and of course health care practices. All of these choices affect the body’s level of antioxidant productions.


Unlike the first two findings, controllable factors like diets and forms of activity linked to calorie restrictions, create a form of malnutrition, changing the rate of unpaired electron molecules accumulating, affecting the damages tied to chronological aging.  

During our youth, the body adjusts to the constant shifting of diets, but as we age, the absence of nutrients to the cells and the declining elimination of waste can cause an older immune system to malfunction, instigating the formation of destructive unpaired electrons.

In summary, the theory of the aging process is not definite, since ROS or RNS are not solely responsible for aging, even though they are involved at most stages of cellular life. Academically, you may stop dangerous radicals from damaging the body, but you can only slow down the natural process of aging.  

As of now, ample supplies of antioxidants turn out to be the answer for preventing and controlling the development of unpaired electron molecules.

The solution might support the body’s biotic functions needed for metabolic sequences – remember our body requires a certain measure of the radicals so the immune system can counterbalance the development and growth of bacteria and infections.

5 Foods That Fight Against Free Radicals

Staying healthy is possible; managing antioxidant concentrations offer a double dose of benefits and advantages for controlling how we age and arming our body to handle life’s struggles of biological confrontations.

Agreeing with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, here are five health-giving foods with the highest level of antioxidants for keeping your body in balance.  

Small Red Beans - SimplyLeaner
Small Red Beans – SimplyLeaner

Small red beans lead the list for having the most antioxidant quantities and add a few benefits for the managing weight loss or gain. The high protein content helps to meet the daily protein requirements our body needs to complete metabolic functions; exercise and you have the perfect companion for building lean tissue and healthy muscles.

Wild berries - SimplyLeaner
Wild berries – SimplyLeaner

Wild berries are second only to small red beans in antioxidant capacity and known for being smaller compared to its cultivated relations with no compromise of nutritional values. The fruit’s color and skin textures are the benefits of the anthocyanin – transferring the healing capacities for neutralizing the effects of radicals when consumed.

Red beans - Simplyleaner
Red beans – Simplyleaner

Red kidney beans contain protein, fiber and iron, decreasing the volume of glucose or sugar consumed, increasing health prevention by reducing the risks of developing free radicals leading to disease. The antioxidants in kidney beans are five times higher than navy beans and ten times higher than garbanzo beans.

Pinto beans - SimplyLeaner
Pinto beans – SimplyLeaner

Pinto beans have a low glycemic index with a blend of complex carbohydrates for slower digestion, improving the absorption rate for regulating our blood sugars. The antioxidants and fiber combine healthy and delicious nutrients to stabilize the body functions looking after insulin levels, while guarding against attack.

blueberries antioxidants - SimplyLeaner
blueberries antioxidants – SimplyLeaner

Cultivated blueberries are larger than the smaller wild berries. Although they are larger, they have a lower antioxidant capacity with a bounty of minerals and fibers to protect against several health conditions. Fused the high levels of antioxidants, the magnesium levels help in developing strong bones so we can stay active through all phases of life.

There are other recognized foods rich in colors, decadent flavors and high antioxidant capacities; the health benefits are reliant on other compounds to help the absorption of antioxidants in the body.  By adding more of these foods into your diet, you help to prevent harmful radicals.

You’ve heard it again and again—the key is moderation with lots of vitamins to combat these dangerous molecules. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant in the body, capable of breaking the chain reactions created by free radicals—defender of oxidation. Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant, present in the cellular fluid, fighting radical formations induced by pollution and tobacco smoke.


Normal biological processes are constantly replacing our cells. Eating fruits and vegetables containing chemicals and substances necessary for the body’s absorption of antioxidants is one method of strengthening the body’s defense system against destructive chain reactions. A diet rich in minerals and vitamins, balanced with the right amount of proteins keeps us fit.