You may have heard of antioxidants, and how eating things like berries can absorb free radicals, boosting your health. It sounds good, and who would turn down berries?
What are antioxidants? What are free radicals? What do they do to your body? And how do they affect your health?
At every moment of our lives, our body’s cells are busy converting sugar into energy. This allows us to move, to digest food, to breathe; it allows our hearts to pump blood, our brains to process the input of our senses into a conception of our natural environment — in short, life.
As this happens, the chemical reactions at the cellular level produce, among other things, free radicals. These are chemicals, atoms or molecules that each have a single unpaired valence electron. Chemically, this makes them highly reactive.
While many free radicals are generated by processing food and converting sugar to energy, others can be absorbed from the air we breathe, and some are created by the interaction of sunlight on our skin.
As they move through the bloodstream and other body systems, free radicals interact with other molecules and cells in a process called oxidation. Chemically, oxidation is the same as combustion, burning or rusting.
Free radicals are essential to a number of essential life processes, such as fighting off infection. However, when the body has an imbalance in the amount of free radicals, it can experience a state called oxidative stress.
Research has associated oxidative stress with a range of diseases, including cancer, atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, among many others.
Other symptoms of oxidative stress can range from arthritis pain to eczema and migraines. One sign can be a build-up of lipid peroxides.
Antioxidants to the rescue
Fortunately, we’re not helpless against free radicals. Our bodies also produce chemicals called antioxidants. As their name implies, they tend to produce chemical reactions that work against oxidation.
We can also get antioxidants from food, especially unprocessed fruits and vegetables and other plants. Vitamins C and E are antioxidants. Berries are also high in other antioxidants.
The way forward
Experiencing a range of symptoms with unclear causes can be a sign of oxidative stress and excess lipid peroxides. A simple urine test can measure these markers.
From there, we can perform a blood analysis to identify food sensitivities and allergies that could be associated with health symptoms. An IgG Food Antibody Profile, for instance, tests for sensitivity to 30 common food antigens.
With this information in hand, we can develop a program tailored to your specific metabolic needs. It would include food, nutrition and supplements designed to bring your body into balance.
Contact us about working up your comprehensive metabolic profile and take charge of your health.