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Basics of Free Radicals and Oxidative Stress

Free Radicals and Oxidative Stress

A free radical is an atom with an unpaired electron floating around. They are formed every time we produce energy. They float around and try to bond to other molecules in healthy cells. When they do this, they release energy that can damage surrounding tissues, organs, joints, damage DNA and RNA strands, and damage the skin. This process is called oxidation.

Free radicals destroy neurons and synapses. They would rather bond with fat cells and as the brain and nerve cells are made up of a lot of fat, particularly the cell membrane which is the most important part of the cell, they can destroy a lot of brain and nerve tissue through oxidation.

Oxidation is basically the same thing as rusting. It’s what you see when you cut an apple in half and watch it turn brown, or like a piece of metal left out in the weather and it rusts. This is basically what happens when free radicals attack our tissues.

To control this, we have antioxidants that help protect us against the negative effects of free radicals. Our body produces antioxidants naturally and we also get them from food and supplements.

Free radicals also promote inflammation.

Some things that increase oxidative stress and increase mitochondrial aging include:

  • Insulin and high glucose environments generate free radicals and promote oxidative stress.

  • Chronic stress – leads to the over production of free radicals, weakens your immune system, and lowers your insulin sensitivity, among other things. (This is why the meditation, breathe work, grateful log type stuff above is important to implement)

  • Sleep deprivation and circadian mismatches promote all disease. If your body’s biological clocks are misaligned with its circadian rhythms, then you’ll cause more cellular stress and predispose yourself to all types of dysfunctions.

  • Environmental toxins – pesticides, heavy metals, plastics, cleaning products, personal care products can all increase oxidative stress

  • Processed food and overcooked food – increase the amount of free radicals in it

Fasting can help reduce the free radical and oxidative stress load. It is also beneficial for mitochondrial function due to this.

Fish oil, alpha lipoic acid, glutathione, CoQ10, Vitamin E and C, can decrease free radicals and oxidative stress.

So, free radicals will always be produced. You just don’t want too many of them going out of controlling, causing damage


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