You have no doubt been hearing that antioxidants are good for you and that you should be getting lots of them, right? But what exactly are antioxidants and why are they good for us?
What are Antioxidants?
|First let’s look at the word. We’ve got “anti” and “oxi”. So does that mean antioxidants are anti oxygen? Well, not quite. The important thing to know is the difference between oxygenation and oxidation. Oxygen is good and being oxygenated is very good. Every organ in our bodies needs oxygen. But oxidation refers to the breakdown of materials by aggressive little atoms and molecules. An iron bumper on a car breaking down and turning to rust is an example of oxidation. So when you think antioxidants, think anti-oxidation. Antioxidants are compounds that help us fight against damage from oxidation. Our bodies are constantly reacting with oxygen as we breathe and as our cells create energy. But this process along with poor quality foods and pollution can create an abundance of highly reactive molecules in our system called free radicals.|
What are Free Radicals?
Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms that are missing electrons. Free radicals bounce around looking to replace the missing electrons and cause our cells oxidative damage. They can damage proteins, cell membranes and even genes. Oxidative damage has been implicated in the cause of many diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s and is also said to accelerate the aging process. Poor quality foods and environmental pollutions have exposed us to more free radicals than ever before. This is where antioxidants come in handy. They are rich in electrons and neutralize free radicals, stopping their oxidative damage in its tracks.