Free radicals and oxidative stress
The term free radicals appears again and again in connection with health and personal hygiene and above all in connection with aging. Free radicals are formed in the body during all metabolic processes in which oxygen is involved.
Basically, free radicals are normal and are even needed by the body for the immune system. However, it becomes problematic if too many free radicals are. Because these solve so-called oxidative stress which in turn favors the formation of further free radicals. In addition, oxidative stress can damage healthy cells. This in turn, according to the free radical theory, can lead to faster aging.
So too many free radicals can cause:
- The skin ages faster and becomes dry
- The immune system is weakened
- Increased risk of cancer
- Diseases such as rheumatism, dementia or heart disease are promoted
Although free radicals are formed in the body, an excess – and thus oxidative stress – can be promoted primarily by external factors. You should therefore avoid:
- Too much UV radiation
- Nicotine, alcohol and other drugs
- Car exhaust and other environmental toxins
- injuries and inflammation
What can you do against too many free radicals or do to oxidative stress?
Among the most important measures for reduction of oxidative stress by free radicals in the body counts the supply of so-called antioxidants, as radical scavenger "work". Some can be made in the body itself, many Vitamins, minerals and also secondary plant substances must, however, be added to a sufficient extent. What they have in common is that they can intercept free radicals and render them harmless.
To the most important antioxidants include vitamins C and E, as well as carotenoids and flavonoids. Whole grain products, legumes, vegetable oils or nuts are particularly rich in these antioxidants. It is also recommended to eat fruit and vegetables in the "traffic light colors", i.e. red, yellow and green (e.g. carrots, apples, berries, tomatoes, etc.). Good news: coffee and wine can also contain antioxidant substances if not consumed in excess.
With a healthy, varied diet, avoiding stress, too much UV light and environmental pollution, it is usually not necessary to add antioxidants to the body. Only in the event of a deficiency or an exceptionally high level of stress can it help the body to cope with the oxidative stress, for example by taking dietary supplements.
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