So what are they?
Your body uses oxygen for numerous metabolic reactions, as well as part of your immune system. (Our bodies use them to attack bacteria and viruses. ) Sometimes when oxygen interacts with different compounds it can become a free radical.
A free radical is a molecule that has one or more unpaired electrons. So what? A molecule wants to have all of it’s orbitals filled – usually each atom in a molecule likes to have 8 electrons or it shares electrons with another atom in the molecule so it’s balanced. So if a molecule has only 7 electrons, it’s going to pull from somewhere else – from another molecule or atom that has a less strong hold on its electrons. Now the first one is stabilized, but the second one is out an electron or two and becomes a free radical.
An antioxidant is a molecule that give up an electron but then reconfigures to a way that it’s still balanced and doesn’t become a free radical itself.
Free radicals attack fats in our cell membranes and damage our cell functioning. They can also alter DNA, RNA and proteins and increase inflammation. All of this has a big domino effect on the body.
Your body naturally defends against oxidants/free radicals by making enzymes out of the minerals selenium, copper, manganese and zinc. It also uses vitamins like E, beta-cartone and vitamin C. All of these are found in diets high in fruits and veggies.