How do antioxidants work? Antioxidants are molecules that neutralize oxygen radicals without becoming unstable themselves. They do this by donating the free radical’s missing electron.
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, and in the process, themselves become oxidized. That is why you constantly need to “refill” your antioxidant resources.
There are two ways that antioxidants work:
1. Breaking the “chain” - When a free radical “steals” an electron from a healthy atom, it creates a second radical. This new radical does the same to a third, and on it goes setting off a chain reaction. This happens until the chain is broken - either the radical is stabilized by an antioxidant, or it simply decays into a harmless product (reaching the Hayflick limit).
2. Prevention - Antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase) actually prevent oxidation. They “scavenge” those troublemaking radicals, averting the oxidation chain. They can also prevent oxidation by stabilizing transition metal radicals such as copper and iron.
The effectiveness of any given antioxidant in the body depends on which free radical is involved, how and where it is generated, and where the target of damage is.
While in one particular system an antioxidant may protect against free radicals, in other systems it could have no effect at all. Or, in certain circumstances, an antioxidant may even act as a "pro-oxidant" that generates toxic oxygen species.
In 1957 Dr. Denham Harman was studying the effects of radiation on human bio-systems at Berkeley.
He was the first to prove that antioxidants, by neutralizing free oxygen radicals, extended the lifespan of lab mice.
At the time, Dr Harman’s research was only used for plastic manufacturing purposes. Only in the last decade have scientists really explored how antioxidants work to protect the human body against oxidation and free radical damage.
In essence, how antioxidants work to keep you healthy, free of disease, and living longer.
Naturally, our trillions of cells have free radical defense mechanisms. But these only function if the body maintains “homeostasis”, a balance.
Antioxidants work by helping maintain this balance. They can improve the quality of your life.
What throws us out of balance?
Our natural defenses are currently overwhelmed with an onslaught of chemicals, viruses, bacteria and mutant cancer cells. Exposure to toxins is inevitable.
Did you know that one cigarette forms 24 quadrillion free radicals? That’s 24 000 000 000 000!
Because of this, we are at the point where we need “mega” doses of antioxidants. Basically, we need antioxidant therapy. A balanced network of antioxidants
found in whole foods
and supplements has the ability to “mop up” the harmful free radicals.