Does Location Expose You to Greater Danger
In 1954, Dr. Denham Harman made a discovery. By using his extensive knowledge of the human body and “ionized radiation,” he discovered that free radicals were responsible for premature aging and the reason for many diseases. The sources of these free radicals were wide ranging and, at the time, it was uncertain exactly how to prevent them. Over 50 years later, science has helped to detect the origin of free radicals as well as what can help prevent them. So, what are these free radicals and how can we get rid of them?
What Are Free Radicals?
Often referred to simply as radicals, these are organic molecules that are highly unstable. Most molecules are made of several chemical bonds – electrons glued together. When a bond is broken, what remains is a highly charged and unstable molecular fragment that contains one or more unpaired electrons. These reactive particles are what we call free radicals. As they are alone and (like most humans) want a partner, they float around looking for other electrons to bond with. Often these free radicals will even break bonded molecules to satisfy their need for companionship. Scientists call this process oxidation and free radicals are really good at it. They’ll oxidize just about anything in your body- cell membranes, key enzymes, and even DNA. Worse, once one free radical breaks up a molecule, several other free radicals can be created causing a chain reaction that can cause disease and premature aging.
Not only premature aging, but also all aging is theoretically caused by free radicals. As this process can happen millions of times in your body, over the course of your life, these free radicals cause a lot of damage over and slowly cause the body to lose its elasticity and strength. When proper prevention is taken to free the body of all possible free radicals, scientists have discovered that humans tend to live longer and healthier.
What Causes Free Radicals?
Although some causes for free radicals are completely out of your control, there are environmental and lifestyle choices that you can prevent. Some of the more prominent of these causes are:
Stress (both emotional and physical)
Radiation and UV Rays
Drugs (both recreational and prescription)
These are just a few things that can cause a higher amount of free radicals in the body. As you can see though, your location can affect the amount of free radicals that can harm you. If you live in a large metropolis like Chicago or New York, you’re more likely to be exposed to air pollutants and industrial chemicals. As well your stress levels may be higher and you can have a harder time finding healthier food thus resort to processed food. If you live on the countryside, you’re more likely to be exposed to fresh air, healthier food, and reduced levels of stress. All of this can help prevent premature aging and higher levels of stress.
How To Prevent Free Radicals
Our best defenses against free radicals are antioxidants, which are mainly found in vitamins and phytochemicals. These come from healthy food sources such as pomegranates, fish, blueberries, and apples. Each antioxidant has a specific role in helping your body meaning not just one fruit or vegetable with vitamins can help you, but an entire diet of them. The more antioxidants your body receives, the better chance of preventing and ridding the body of free radicals you have.
Another way of preventing free radicals is through clean air and oxygen. The body needs a great amount of oxygen to stay healthy. In larger cities and where trees/forests are rare, the air’s oxygen levels decrease. In these cases, the body must make up for its lost oxygen by substituting it with free radicals to help stabilize the body. This is extremely harmful and can have negative reactions to the body. For those living in large metropolis areas, it’s recommended to eat a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, to exercise often, and avoid harmful habits such as smoking, drinking, and sun tanning. The best way to prevent free radicals is find sources and areas close to you that are high in oxygen, either taking weekend trips to the country, filling your house with plants, or visiting tree-filled parks. This is a great way to keep yourself as healthy as possible. Topical antioxidants have shown to decrease the amount of free radical damage on the skin. Combining topical and internally ingested antioxidants should both be used for optimal results. Using antioxidants under your sunscreen every day can protect against free radicals caused by UV exposure. Although there’s no way to fully prevent free radicals from entering your body, with proper prevention you can feel confident that you’ll stay healthier at all times.
Last Updated on September 22, 2016 by Dr Dayan