An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals, leading to chain reactions that may damage cells.Antioxidants such as thiols or ascorbic acid (vitamin C) terminate these chain reactions.
Antioxidants are chemicals that slow-down cell damage. There are found in two forms- natural and man-made. Natural antioxidants can be found in fruits and vegetables. And man-made antioxidants come in a supplement form and may fill any nutritional gap.
What are free radicals?
When an atom is exposed is oxygen they 'break', resulting in unpaired electrons. These bad boys, known as free radicals, are always on a hunt for spare electrons so as to stabilize themselves. To add free radicals attach onto electrons from other cells, leading to a chain of unstable electrons. Stealing electrons means that the cell next door loses some of its electrons, becoming a free radical.
Why are free radicals so dangerous?
Messing with cell structure is not a good idea as it leads to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been linked to serious diseases like cancer, heart disease, aging, diabetes, arthritis, and many more.
How can antioxidants help?
Antioxidants are one of the first lines of defense that the body instructs to keep free radicals under check and prevent them from causing a domino effect of damage on other cells. Antioxidant can 'donate' electrons to unstable free radicals so they don?t snatch electrons from other cells. Antioxidants can also help repair cell damage caused by free radicals.
Plus there are other benefits like:
- Blocks metal radical production : Some antioxidants can neutralize toxic metals like mercury and arsenic that may cause free radical formation.
- Builds immunity : They build natural defenses and stimulate body's genes, therefore increasing immunity.
- Provides shielding : Anti-oxidants like flavonoids behave like shields and attach to your DNA, protecting it from free radicals attacks.
- Promotes cancer cells to 'commit suicide': Anti-oxidant has anti-cancer properties that pauses cancer growth and self-destructs some cancer cells.