Free radicals


Free radicals are highly aggressive oxygen-rich compounds that are continually formed in our organism during numerous metabolic processes. On their electron shell these molecules have unpaired electrons, which makes them very unstable and reactive. They combine with other substances such as polyunsaturated fatty acids, and in this way trigger a chain reaction of oxidation processes. This finally leads to the formation of many harmful substances and thus represents a danger for endogenous compounds and structures.

Certain outside influences, above all smoking, but also UV radiation and certain environmental chemicals, favour the formation of free radicals.

In order to ward off the damage of these radical attacks our body has numerous defence mechanisms at its disposal. For instance, there are enzymes which have the task of detoxifying the free radicals. Especially important for neutralizing the radicals are the antioxidants (e.g. vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene) that we take in with our food.

Usually there is some degree of balance between the formation of the free radicals on the one hand and their disposal on the other. But it is also possible either that an increased amount of radicals is formed, for example by smoking or long exposure to the sun, or that the amount of available antioxidants is too small. We then speak of \"oxidative stress\". This increases the number of oxidation processes described above, thus promoting the development of cancerous diseases and arteriosclerosis and accelerating ageing processes.

The abundant intake of various antioxidants with our food can effectively protect us from this oxidative stress and is justifiably recommended today. According to all existing studies to date, the protective effects of the antioxidants are at a maximum when we absorb many different ones and above all in their natural form, i.e. with foods, particularly fruits and vegetables.

 



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