Free Radicals

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I had previously been looking into the effects of free radicals on the body, and the types of supplements that would work to inactivate these dangerous toxins. Webster’s Dictionary defines a free radical as, “An atom or group of atoms that has at least one unpaired electron, and is therefore unstable and highly reactive. In animal tissues, free radicals can damage cells and are believed to accelerate the progression of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and age-related diseases” (Merriam-Webster, 2010). In this paper, I will discuss: exposure to free radicals, their effects on the body, “The Free Radical Theory”, both supplements and foods which will help to inactivate free radicals, and finally; my take on the dangerous effects of free radicals as they pertain to the elderly population.

First off, where do these free radicals in our bodies come from? There is no single answer to this question, as free radicals come from natural chemical processes within the body, as well as through diet, and environmental exposures. These environmental exposures include: tobacco smoke, pollution, sunlight, radiation, and even nitrites used as preservatives for meat (Ferrini, 2008). So how do our bodies produce these toxic byproducts? The answer is through normal cell metabolism. Free radicals are in turn produced when the body metabolizes oxygen to make the energy it requires to maintain itself. So what types of foods will create the most free radicals in our bodies? The most dangerous foods, in terms of free radicals, are refined foods and cooked animal products. These foods include animal flesh, dairy, and eggs. While the process of digestion in and of itself creates the toxic byproduct, these foods contain less antioxidants to combat their effects. Refined foods include: Most heated oils, sugar, and white flours just to name a few (Sheridan, 2008).

So why is it that we need to be concerned about the amount of free radicals in our bodies? “Free radicals can...
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