What’s the secret to growing old gracefully? Scientists have several theories but one of the most popular ones is something called the free-radical theory of aging. This goes beyond the idea that people’s bodies wear down over time because of normal aging. The free-radical theory of aging is that the molecules cause unstable oxygen molecules. They’re unstable because they’re missing an electron. The unsteady molecules make other molecules unstable after they steal an electron. As time passes this can cause a world of trouble like tissue breakdown and serious diseases.
Based on the free-radical theory, the human body can fight back with antioxidants. They’re found in nutrients like Vitamin C in apples and oranges. The theory about free radicals argues that people can slow down the aging process by using antioxidants to fight off free radicals. They give free radicals the electron heir missing so they stop attacking healthy cells. In theory, you can use anti-aging methods like skin creams or orange juice to battle free radicals and slow down the aging process. This is done by protecting your healthy cells so bad molecules aren’t able to start a chain reaction of damage.
What in the World Are Free Radicals?
These are unstable molecules that the body makes naturally in different ways including metabolism or being exposed to toxic environments like UV light or tobacco smoke.
This can cause health issues including cancer. Food with antioxidants can balance the unstable molecules, which lowers the risk of cell damage. They do this by giving free radicals a free electron, which causes them to be stable.
This happens because free radicals have an odd number of electrons. One of them isn’t paired up with another electron. In most cases, an oxygen atom has 6 electrons in the outer shell. When there’s an odd number it has to find another electron so it’s stable. So, the molecules go around trying to steal an electron from healthy molecules.
There is a double-whammy. Not only is the free radical stealing an electron for itself but this causes the other molecule to become unstable. That’s because it has an odd number of electrons. This causes a chain reaction that can include tissue/organ damage and various diseases.
There are different ways that free radicals can be produced. They include being exposed to cancer-causing substances like tobacco smoke or air pollution. The body’s metabolism can also result in free radicals.
There are various sources of cancer-causing free radicals including:
- Ultraviolet (UV) radiation
- Tobacco smoke
- Environmental chemicals
After free radicals are made whether it’s through metabolism or exposure, they are free to do radical damage. The fancy name for this situation is “oxidative stress.” The name is related to the stress molecules cause when there’s oxygen.
The damage to stuff in the body can cause different types of diseases. For example, damage to proteins can result in disease. When damage is done to DNA genes this can result in proteins that don’t function properly.
What’s the Free-Radical Theory of Aging?
The free-radical theory is about the negative effects of free radicals in the body in terms of aging. It argues that free radicals can speed up the aging process due to damage to cells, tissues, organs, etc. It’s claimed that antioxidants can function as an anti-aging substance that can fight free radicals.
The goal is to minimize the damage caused by free radicals. This is done by using antioxidants to balance free radicals and slow down the signs of aging like dry or wrinkled skin. Some of the main methods include real food, dietary supplements, and topical creams/lotions/serums applied directly to the skin.
As always it seems that real food seems to be the best way to boost your body’s antioxidants and slow down the negative effects of oxygen. This includes eating foods like oranges and broccoli, which are high in antioxidants like Vitamin C.
Another natural approach is to get more sun exposure. This shouldn’t involve long-term exposure during the hottest part of the day. However, various studies show that getting some sunlight exposure can boost your body’s Vitamin D. This is a powerful antioxidant that can help fight off free radicals and their damage.
The theory about free radicals and aging argues that free radicals cause many of the age-related changes in the human body. This includes ones related to genes, proteins, etc. As time passes, the damage can worsen and cause faster aging.
There’s some evidence that links free radicals to fast aging. The results of various studies show that boosting antioxidants in mice’s diets can slow down aging’s effects. It’s important to note that free radicals are one of the various factors that result in human aging.
Some new studies show that free radicals might ironically even help the body in some situations. In addition, boosting your antioxidant intake could have a negative result. One study showed that worms treated with free radicals actually lived longer versus other worms.
Top High-Antioxidant Foods
The plant’s bulbs are often enjoyed in foods like salads. However, it turns out they’re also loaded with antioxidants to help keep you healthy. They’re also high in minerals and fiber for more nutrition. Artichokes are especially high in a certain kind of antioxidant. Studies show it seems to have antioxidant properties that might lower the risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes.
These berries are higher-carb than strawberries and blackberries but also loaded with antioxidants and nutrients. Many studies show that blueberries have the highest antioxidant content among all popular fruits/veggies. The 14g of carbs for a serving of blueberries might be worth it.
The main ingredient in pecan pie is native to Mexico/South America. The tree nuts are a good source of minerals and healthy fats. They’re also loaded with antioxidants to help fight off free radicals and keep you healthier. One serving has a high amount of antioxidants, which makes them a good option for anti-aging.
4. Red Cabbage
This is a superfood that’s a low called purple cabbage. It’s loaded with vitamins and has a high antioxidant amount. In fact, you can get 4x more antioxidants versus regular cabbage that’s cooked.
This green leafy veggie is in the same family as cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. This is one of the healthiest leafy greens. It’s high in several vitamins like A/C/K. Some types of kale can have up to 2x of antioxidants as regular kale.
6. Dark Chocolate
Are you looking for an excuse to eat more chocolate? Studies show that cocoa has more antioxidants than chocolate. This is due to it being closer to the cacao bean. Chocolate is often considered unhealthy because of food processing and added sugar. However, dark chocolate is more natural and can be used to help prove the free-radical theory.