Friday, August 31

Free Radicals and Anti-Aging Methods

Forget Buddha beads, peace signs and social activism. Free radicals may not be following the New Age mantra of going organic and natural but they are a big influence when you are considering living a healthy life and having an ageless body and appearance.

Free radicals consequently cause damage to the human body in the cellular level. They can affect the immune system and stop the production of the human growth hormone which aids in cellular production. In general, they are molecules that have a single unpaired electron in an outer shell as a result of oxidation in the human body.

Some of us may be familiar with oxidation which results to rust. The oxidation process in our body, however, does not necessarily involve oxygen. It is described as a loss of electrons in atoms that result to molecules with such a structure.

According to the free radical theory of aging, degenerative diseases associated with aging generally involve free radical processes which, in turn, result to premature aging.

To combat the damage caused by the presence of free radicals in the body, health professionals and doctors recommend the use of antioxidants in skin care products or the ingestion of food rich with these chemicals. Antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin E prevent oxidation and donate electrons for pairing off with the lone electron in free radical molecules.

One disadvantage of the free radical theory of aging, however, is that it lacks scientific proof that it can extend mammalian lifespan. It has been tested on rodents before and only one antioxidant chemical, PBN (phenybutylnitrone), has proven a 10% extension of maximum lifespan in experimental animals.

There is another way of reducing the presence of free radicals in the body and that is by calorie restriction. Calorie restriction, or severely cutting the intake of energy, has been found to reduce free radicals and to increase the life-span of rodents. Studies have shown that both calorie restriction and reduced meal frequency or intermittent fasting can suppress the development of various diseases and can increase life span in rodents by 30-40% by mechanisms involving stress resistance and reduced oxidative damage. Severe calorie restriction over 50% resulted in increased mortality.

In conclusion, free radical damage may be one of the causes of premature aging. But this can be prevented and the aging process can be slowed down by taking in antioxidants such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E and including fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants in our daily diet. Another option is to reduce calorie intake by either reducing meal frequency such as taking small meals in regular intervals instead of eating 3 big meals a day or practicing intermittent fasting which would reduce energy production in cells.

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