Free radicals everywhere. But what are they? What do they actually do to our bodies? How do we defend ourselves from them?

Antioxidants are natural compounds such as vitamins , minerals, herbs, spices, and proteins that help protect the body against cellular damage. This damage occurs as a result of free radicals that are generated from metabolic processes, exposure to the sun, pollutants in our environment, cigarette smoke, and toxic household chemicals to name a few. Some believe that free radicals are responsible for many degenerative diseases, like heart disease and cancer.

Who is susceptible to free radicals and oxidative processes? Pretty much anyone (or anything) exposed to oxygen - even your car (rust is an 'oxidative' process, but Vitamin E won't do much to preserve the family SUV). There are other forms of free radicals that occur in the body, but the oxygen-sourced ones are the most common.

It is impossible to limit exposure to free radicals, but it is possible to fortify your body's defenses against them. In Hippocrates' days, organic food was pretty abundant and likely had much more of its antioxidant content intact. Today, many of our fruits and vegetables are grown in 'tired' soils depleted from poor crop rotation and exposed to agricultural pesticides and chemicals, which could have a significant impact on their nutritional and antioxidant content.

There are many different antioxidants and they come from a variety of sources. One of the reasons nutritionists and dieticians recommend multiple servings of fruits and vegetables daily is to obtain an abundance of nutrients, particularly antioxidants. Green leafy vegetables and colorful fruits like blueberries usually are rich sources.

So, what are the antioxidants? Here is a brief list: By choosing antioxidant-rich foods or supplementing to get those missing from your diet, you provide your body with an arsenal to fight against the destructive processes excessive free-radical production can cause. Studies have shown antioxidants to play an integral role in the preservation of health and vitality. Among these benefits are:
  • Nourish skin and texture
  • Maintain strength and flexibility of blood vessel walls
  • Detoxify liver of metals and pollutants
  • Stimulate the immune system
  • Promote cellular energy production
  • Chelate toxic heavy metals
  • Protect cardiovascular system
  • Combine with substances to form other antioxidants
  • Slow premature biological aging
  • Promote growth of new liver cells
  • Moderate allergic and inflammatory responses
  • Promote activity of other antioxidants
  • Prevent cataract development
  • Slow rate of cell destruction
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce cholesterol
  • Fight stresses effect on body
The evidence would appear to be clear. Bolster your body's first line of defense with potent antioxidants and pave the way to a long and healthy life!