Fighting Back: How Antioxidants Take on Oxidative Stress
by Lorraine R. Scantlin
Special to The Pilot
So what really is going on inside our cells?
Our bodies are constantly reacting with oxygen as we breathe, which results in energy production within our cells. Energy is what drives us forward from birth to old age. Whether we're breathing, walking or growing, energy must be present.
However, just as a car releases toxins as it burns gas to move forward, our bodies exert by-products as a result of energy production. This is a natural process called oxidation. The by-products created by oxidation, known as free radicals, are highly reactive unstable molecules that harbor within our cells.
Our bodies are constantly fighting against free radicals produced not only from breathing, but also from metabolism, exercise, smoking, -radiation, certain medications, pollution, alcohol consumption, stresses (happy or sad), basically, life in general.
So, what's the big deal with free radicals? A free radical is unstable and highly reactive because of its unpaired electron. Therefore, it will take one from a healthy cell to restore balance. This, in turn, leaves the healthy cell unstable and susceptible to disease. Thus starts a chain reaction of oxidative stress within our cells, which is believed to accelerate aging and sickness, such as the common cold or flu, as well as chronic -diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, chronic fatigue, diabetes and many other age-related diseases.
So what are we doing to protect ourselves?
Let's go back to the beginning, creation. We were created to consume that which was given us from above to sustain our lives and keep us healthy. However, man has corrupted much of what we have. Depleted soil, long distance -shipping, cheap processing, added chemicals, the list goes on. And, how many of us stay home to cook organic, fresh, local, healthy foods for our families? How many of us take time to regroup and refresh from life's daily stresses?
Part of our normal metabolism does include a protective process that neutralizes free radicals from their damaging effects. These are the -antioxidant nutrients found in our diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, such as vitamins A, E, C, beta carotene and phytonutrients.
The importance of antioxidants for protecting our health cannot be overstated. However, -antioxidants "sacrifice" themselves in this process, and that is why we need to replenish them through our diet or/and supplements.
Antioxidants are measured for their -effectiveness in terms of their Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) score. For -example, an orange has an ORAC score of 750. The USDA recommends an intake of 5,000 ORAC units per day to maintain optimum health.
Seven out of 10 doctors look favorably upon antioxidant supplementation for their patients. Nearly 70 percent of Americans take nutritional supplements as an "insurance plan" to -supplement their diet.
With so many vitamins to choose from, how do we know what and how much our bodies need? Most people rely on advertising or a salesperson to help them in choosing a brand.
Studies show many multivitamins are inadequate in supplying the body with what it needs to build healthy cells and fight oxidative stress because of shortcuts in producing their product. These shortcuts result in supplements of low quality, potency and absorbency with ineffective results.
Without adequate antioxidants with a high ORAC score, we are gambling with our health and quality of life. A complete, effective, high-quality multivitamin will supply all the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants needed in a safe, -balanced, absorbable form that protects and builds healthy cells.
Do you know if your daily diet and -supplements are feeding and protecting all your cells and repairing the damaged ones?
A daily diet high in vegetables and fruits and a potent antioxidant supplement is a safeguard against aging and disease. Negligence comes with a heavy price.
Lorrraine R. Scantlin is the owner of The Healing Place in West End. For more information on -oxidative stress and healthy living, call her at (910) 673-3246.
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