Free radicals can be found anywhere, even your body actually produces free radicals. This substance is harmful to the body and can cause various diseases, such as cancer. But, do you know what it is actually free radicals? What are the dangers of free radicals for the body and why can it be dangerous? Consider the following explanation.
What is free radical?
Free radicals are molecules containing unpaired electrons. Thus, these molecules may contribute or receive electrons from other molecules. This makes free radicals unstable and highly reactive. Free radicals are able to attack various molecules in the body, such as lipids, nucleic acids, and proteins as the main target. Thus, it can cause damage to cells, proteins, and DNA, as well as disturbance of balance in the body.
Your body can get free radicals from the surrounding environment, such as exposure to sunlight, radiation, ozone, cigarette smoke, vehicle fumes, air pollution, industrial chemicals, food you eat, and drinks you drink. Not only that, in fact your body also produces free radicals from important metabolic processes in the body, from various chemical reactions that occur in the body. Like, as the body digests the food, as you breathe, to exercise.
What is the danger of free radicals for the body?
Free radicals that have only one electron will attract electrons from the molecules in the body, so that the molecule turns into free radicals as well. This makes free radicals multiply in the body and cause cell damage.
Too many free radicals in the body can make the body experience oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a condition in which the amount of free radicals in the body is more than antioxidant defenses (which can prevent cell damage from free radicals). This results in various cellular damage in the body, such as lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids.
This oxidative stress can then cause various diseases. Starting from arthritis, heart disease, atherosclerosis, stroke, hypertension, peptic ulcers, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, to causing aging. Free radicals can damage the DNA code, so new cells grow incorrectly and cause aging.
However, free radicals are also important for life. The body’s ability to convert air and food into chemical energy depends on the chain reaction of free radicals. In addition, free radicals are an important part of the immune system, helping to attack foreign substances that enter the body.
What can be done to prevent the danger of free radicals?
Antioxidants are molecules in cells that can prevent free radicals from taking electrons, so free radicals do not cause cellular damage. With the presence of antioxidants, the amount of free radicals in your body remains under control. Therefore, you need to multiply the amount of antioxidants that enter the body to prevent the danger of free radicals.
Where to get antioxidants? Actually your body produces antioxidants, but the amount is not sufficient to be able to balance the amount of free radicals in the body. So, you need to get the antioxidant from an outside source.
Antioxidants can be obtained from the consumption of various foods that contain antioxidants. Food antioxidants are present in the form of beta carotene (vitamin A), lutein, vitamin C, vitamin E, lycopene, and other phytonutrients, which you can get by eating lots of vegetables and fruits.
Examples of vegetables and fruits that contain antioxidants are tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, kale spinach, oranges, kiwi, berries, and other colorful vegetables and fruits. In addition, you can also obtain antioxidants from nuts and green tea.