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What are free radicals, what do they do and where do they come from?

Free radicals are chemically very active substances. All molecules are made up of atoms made up of electrons, protons and neutrons. You need some balance. Some materials have this balance. They are happy as they are and have no need to react with other substances. Think of a gold ring. It stays clean and won't change for years. Iron, for example, will start to rust because it reacts with the oxygen in the air. This reaction is done to help the oxygen get into a more balanced state. Oxygen is an example of a very unbalanced and very aggressive substance and gave the process of oxygenation its name. But oxygen isn't the only substance capable of "radical" behavior.
There are a lot of chemical processes going on in your body. When exercising and exercising, especially, your body needs to burn lots of calories to convert them into mechanical energy that you can run, jump, ski, or whatever else you enjoy doing. We all know that exercise is healthy, but the fact that exercise also creates some waste products is less well known. Exercise and all types of physical activity produce some free radicals that can damage the body. So what should we do? Avoid all types of physical activity? The answer is no. Our body has a natural way of solving the problem. The antioxidants.
But wait, there is another source of problems. Free radicals are also caused by all types of radiation. These include radioactivity, which can be natural (found on an airplane, on a high mountain, or in certain rocks) or caused by humans (medical X-rays, nuclear accidents) and light (especially ultraviolet light from the sun). The shorter the wavelength, the more energy the radiation has and the more damage it can cause. Therefore, radioactivity is usually worse than ultraviolet light, which in turn is worse than visible or infrared light or radio signals. So what happens when, for example, ultraviolet light hits your skin? Light is made up of photons and when these hit the molecules in your skin, you play pool with the electrons from the molecules in your cells. The electron is hit and thrown away. The molecule says: "Shit, where is my electron! I miss it!". When that happens, there are instances when the molecule becomes a radical. It's called radical because of its radical behavior and attitude, which is, "I really want an electron back! I'll go and get one right away! If necessary, I'll just steal it from someone weaker than me, even if." I have to rip it right out of his body! I don't care if I harm someone else! ". With that, the molecule moves on to the next molecule, which looks like it can't hold its electrons, and forcibly steals an electron. Unfortunately, that's not the end of the story. Because now the victim is missing an electron and it has a good chance of turning into a radical as well. A truly undesirable chain reaction.
The bad thing for your body is that all these radicals are so obsessed with getting their electron back that they forget to do their job. Every molecule in your cell has a job to do, and if it isn't done the cell gets into trouble. Often the cell dies. The body has to replace the dead cell with a new one, but this has the disadvantage that you age faster.
If you are unlucky, the damage happens to the cell's DNA. Then the cell can still do something. In some cases the cell goes crazy and does strange things. For example, it can multiply uncontrollably. And we all know the name of this terrible disease: cancer.
Another source of free radicals is our environment. Many radical substances are contained in polluted air, in tobacco smoke, in toxic substances, in substances that cause cancer.

How do free radicals affect my body? Are there any examples?

Many of the effects of free radicals are well known. But sometimes the fact that free radicals are the cause isn't that well known. So let's take a look at some of these situations and see what benefit you get from knowing about the role of free radicals:
If you spend too much time in the sun, you will get sunburned! Yes, you already knew that. They also know that some people get sunburned more easily and some don't. One aspect is to prevent the ultraviolet light from getting into the skin by using sun blockers or the natural skin sun blocker melanin, which is the brown color in the skin. The second aspect is preventing harm. When you have more antioxidants in your skin, a higher percentage of free radicals are destroyed and your skin is better protected.
At some point the antioxidants are used up. Then the free radicals start destroying the cells. The process of repairing the damage has symptoms similar to inflammation and is known as sunburn.
They also know that sunburn increases the chances of developing skin cancer. And after reading the above, it's easy to see why: Free radicals damaged a cell's DNA causing it to go crazy. If there had been an antioxidant it could have protected you by destroying the free radical.
It is common knowledge that people who spend their lives in the sun get wrinkles faster. Wrinkles are a natural effect of the aging of your skin. And aging is the process of replacing dead cells with new ones. So protect your cells from an early death by stopping the killers that wander through your body. Use antioxidants to neutralize the free radicals that are making you look older than you are.
Since the skin is the most visible organ in your body, the effects of free radicals on it are best known. But the same effects are also found in all other organs. Some people want to look young and attractive. Other people want to live long and healthy. Keeping your skin young is not enough for a long and healthy life. You also need to take care that all internal organs remain young. Of course, skin cancer isn't the only cancer that can occur. Internal organs can also be affected. When your internal organs are protected from free radicals, sooner or later it will pay off for you.

Are free radicals just bad or do they have positive aspects too?

Free radicals also have positive aspects. Please check Wikipedia and other sources to find out what positive effects free radicals have and how the body uses them. The short way to say is, your body needs some free radicals, but it's better not to have much more than it needs. 

How can antioxidants fight the free radicals?

Antioxidants have a fairly peaceful way of dealing with free radicals. Antioxidants don't kill free radicals. Instead, they make them happy again and turn them back into normal molecules that can do their jobs. 
The process is easy to understand if you remember what made the radical the radical. It was the lack of an electron. What antioxidants do is wander around your body, present an electron in beautiful gift wrap on a silver platter, and say, "Do you want an electron? Please take one!" And the radical says, "Oh, how nice of you! It's a lot easier for me than stealing the electron from that DNA molecule over there and damaging it." The process is similar to that between people. Sometimes people are in dire trouble and see no other way but to steal or commit a crime. But if someone helps them, they are grateful that they don't have to become criminals and they manage to return to a normal life. When you are helping someone in a situation like this, you are some kind of human antioxidant. And of course, you might miss the money you donated for a while, but then you have a chance to make some money and you won't miss the donation anymore. The same goes for many antioxidants. They miss the electron they donated a little, but not enough to become radical. If they get the chance, they'll earn an electron back. Often this electron actually comes as a donation from another antioxidant. So, antioxidants do what humans ideally do: lots of antioxidants that can afford them work together to help the poor molecules that got into trouble.

How can I avoid free radicals?

First of all, stop smoking! But of course you should try to avoid all other types of environmental pollutants as much as possible. This is often easier said than done because we all have to go to work and cannot entirely avoid breathing in car exhausts or coming into contact with other reactive chemicals.
You should avoid excessive sun exposure, but be aware that your body needs vitamin D and can only get it if you keep the sun on your skin regularly. The key is: getting enough sunlight regularly instead of excessive amounts on rare occasions.
Avoid radioactivity as much as possible. Be aware, however, that modern X-ray machines operate on a minimal dose and there is usually a good medical reason why the doctor recommends an X-ray. However, if the X-ray machine looks very old, you should see a doctor who has a newer model.
Do not do without exercise. While it creates free radicals, it has many other healthy effects. You should avoid extreme physical stress that your body is not used to. In other words, increase your training level slowly and steadily. So, if you haven't done any sport in years, it's not a good idea to start with a marathon. There are many trainers out there who can give you good advice on how to improve your level.
There are also other things that generate free radicals: too little sleep, stress at work or in private life, illness, some medical treatments, excessive consumption of alcohol.

What can I do to fight free radicals?
There are two things you can do:

1.   Prevent free radicals from building up in your body and prevent free radicals from entering your body
2.   Increase the availability of antioxidants to your body that can neutralize the free radicals 

Can I Get Too Many Antioxidants?

Yes! The latest scientific research shows that it is possible to have too many antioxidants. This is hardly surprising, because almost every good thing turns bad when you have too much of it. But almost everyone has fewer antioxidants than is ideal. You can easily check your antioxidant levels by measuring them. The easiest way is to use the non-invasive biozoom scanner. He will tell you if you should work on increasing your antioxidant levels, if you are fine, or if you already have too many antioxidants in your body.

Why should I measure my antioxidant levels?

Why should I measure my antioxidant levels?
First of all, it tells you whether you should be increasing your antioxidant levels or whether your levels are already good. You will also find out if you already have too many antioxidants and should reduce them with supplements. But that's only one side of the coin.
It is a fact that almost everyone has fewer antioxidants than is ideal. But increasing antioxidant levels is not easy. It's a bit like losing weight: you can only make it if you find the right way for you. You need to find foods that are high in antioxidants that your body can absorb and that you like the taste of. Because if you don't like the food, you probably won't eat it for the rest of your life just to be healthier. You also need to find out which food will work for you. The same vegetable can be a good source of antioxidants for one person while adding little to antioxidant levels in another. The reason for this is that the degree of absorption of antioxidants varies from person to person. Also, the way the food is cooked and what you eat with the vegetables has a big impact. How much you chew also matters. In addition, the vegetables are different. We all know tomatoes, which seem to consist of 99% water and little taste and color, and can compare them to sweet, red and intense-tasting tomatoes. The number of antioxidants is just as varied as the color and taste. 
After all, your lifestyle also plays an important role. How Much Antioxidants Are You Consuming? Do you play sports? Do you spend time in the sun? Perfect if you do! Even better if you know that this will make your body need a few more antioxidants and you can make sure your body gets them. 
Are you short of sleep? Do you smoke? Not so good, but at least you can help your body deal with it by giving it enough antioxidants.
If you want to get better antioxidant levels, there are a few changes you need to try. If the changes work, you will see your antioxidant levels slowly improve after a few weeks. If he hasn't improved, try something different until you see progress. Taking repeated measurements of your antioxidant levels will tell you if you are on the right track.
Once you find your way, you can measure less often. But it is a good idea to measure every now and then because you are alive and your habits are constantly changing. So it is quite natural that one drifts from a really healthy lifestyle to a less healthy one without realizing it. But your measurement results give you objective feedback and remind you of it before your antioxidant level gets too low.
We also recommend reading “What Antioxidant Level is Good For Me?” Below.

How quickly will my antioxidant levels change?

The speed of change depends heavily on where you are and how much you change your behavior.
A small percentage of people see a change in their values after every meal. Most of the time these people are very thin. This is not possible for most normal people, and it takes two to four weeks for changes to show up.
Assuming someone is on a score of four and wants to get a score of five, it usually takes two months to get there. But to see results so quickly, it is necessary to live really healthy lives. Sleep well, avoid stress, and especially eat fruits and vegetables.
There are many books out there on how to improve antioxidant levels. There are many products out there to assist you and there are plenty of nutritionists or fitness and nutrition coaches out there. There are several websites that talk about antioxidants. Different doctors also have different opinions. This is mainly because improving your antioxidant levels requires a strategy that is tailored to you. Just like with weight loss, one strategy can work perfectly for someone else but not for you.
So it's not really possible here to give you the perfect guide on what to do best. But to get a rough idea of what to do, let's quote someone's recipe that includes a few typical approaches. You can give it a try if you like, or try a subset of the suggested actions:
This is my personal booster strategy to get a maximum increase in antioxidant levels in a minimum of time. But I don't really recommend using them. You are better off trying a slower start first and gradually increasing your antioxidant intake. However, if nothing else seems to work, you can try the booster strategy:

1.   Drink a smoothie in the morning. Find an antioxidant-rich recipe that has a good combination of palatability and

Represents antioxidants. Add some antioxidant-rich fruit if you prefer something to chew on. I like blueberries and blackberries.

2.   Drink enough throughout the day. If you drink two glasses of carrot juice, two glasses of tomato juice, and two glasses of vegetable juice throughout the day, you are getting a really strong amount of antioxidants. I also tried 20 glasses of tomato juice a day and found that my stomach couldn't take it for long. I can assure you that even with natural products there is an "too much" somewhere. Try out your personal optimum. High-vitamin drinks are good too, as many vitamins are also antioxidants.

3.   Eat some healthy vegetables for lunch. That's not a problem at all when it's cooked. If the preparation contains some oil (from olives, for example), it is even better. A piece of fish goes well with it too. Even a small piece of meat is no problem at all. What to avoid are high-energy foods that do not contain antioxidants, as some of the energy is converted into free radicals when burned in the body. You should avoid too much rice, bread, and potatoes. When you eat pasta, pour plenty of tomato sauce over it.

4th   Replace desserts that are high in sugar with some antioxidant-rich alternatives. There are really tasty alternatives, but they are hard to find in restaurants (vegan or vegetarian restaurants have the best chance) and they are not easy to cook. The simple first approach is not to have dessert for the first few months. Do you need something in between to get through the day? Keep some fruit within easy reach.

5.   In the evening I eat a salad. Some types of lettuce have more antioxidants than others. A general rule is to look for varieties that are dark green in color or those where the leaves tend to be purple in color (but I don't like the slightly bitter taste of these). Add lots of fresh or dried herbs. Add peppers, avocado, tomatoes, carrots, olives, or beetroot. If you like oil and vinegar dressing, you can use olive oil and lemon juice. Yes, I admit I put cheese, nuts, and some bacon in it too. But hey, I want better antioxidant levels now (which means I'll try to lose my excess weight later). If you want to lose weight too, just leave out a few of the high-calorie components.  

6th   If you want, you can add an antioxidant-rich dietary supplement (follow the manufacturer's instructions on when and how to take it!)

7th   Do not smoke. Try to get enough sleep. Avoid stress and spend some time doing relaxation techniques like yoga or chi gong

8th.   Be patient and see what happens. 

Of course, that's just my way. It works for me and I know it has worked for others. I wrote it down to give you an idea how to try it out. The booster strategy is designed so that you see a change in your antioxidant levels. Once you see this, you may want to leave out some of the things you don't like and replace them with something else.
An additional point, if you are a little overweight, the process of improving antioxidant levels may be slower. Body fat is a store of energy that does not contain antioxidants if you have not followed a healthy diet. Your weight requires extra energy, which is like some kind of constant exercise. And this activity creates free radicals. In addition, body fat can absorb and even store antioxidants. As a result, antioxidant levels change less quickly. When you lose weight, the antioxidant levels respond more quickly to changes in diet. You can then probably also achieve higher values. If you are a little overweight, be patient and give your body the time it needs to improve its antioxidant levels.
Some people only did step 2 of the list above. And their values rose too. So you are welcome to adapt the strategy to your needs.

Which foods are high in antioxidants?

In general, most of the antioxidants are found in plants. There are lists of antioxidant concentrations (ORAC list of the US Department of Agriculture). 
It is a good idea to eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. To make it easier for you, nature gave us a kind of color code: almost every vegetable that is red, orange, blue, or purple is high in antioxidants. The same goes for berries and for many fruits.
Green vegetables (especially dark greens) tend to be high in antioxidants as well.
Many herbs are also rich in antioxidants, but if you're looking for recipes, it's easier to find a recipe that uses 100 grams of raspberries than 100 grams of oregano. Always remember that if you only eat a very small amount of it, it will not be enough to eat the food with the highest concentration of antioxidants.
There are many so-called superfoods that have a very high concentration of antioxidants. You can try these out.
You can also find plenty of books and information on the internet if you're looking for antioxidant-rich, superfoods, vitamin-rich, vegetarian, and vegan recipes.
Antioxidants are also found in foods that you would not consider healthy. Coffee, chocolate, and ketchup are examples of this. If the food is not healthy for reasons other than antioxidants, it is up to you to decide whether to eat it. In the case of chocolate, you can choose dark chocolate to get the healthier variety with more antioxidants.
In many cases, foods contain incredible amounts of antioxidants. For example kale. But you also need to make sure that your body can absorb them well. You can do the following things:


  • Sometimes the plant won't let you in on the antioxidants. She keeps them locked up in her cells. It helps to break open the cells. This can be done mechanically by chewing the food well. You will achieve an even stronger effect if you throw the plant into a high-performance mixer and chop it up into very small pieces. Sometimes the cells can also be broken open by cooking.

  • Some antioxidants can be better absorbed when they come with a little oil. This is why some smoothie recipes add a little olive oil. The oil absorbs some of the antioxidants during the cooking process and the body absorbs the oil and with it the antioxidants.

  • Vegan and vegetarian food is usually a good idea. It doesn't matter that much whether you are a strict vegetarian or not. A small piece of meat doesn't do much harm to the antioxidant content.

Choose your drinks wisely!

  • Smoothies with vegetables are good

  • Smoothies with fruit are good

  • Fruit juice is less good because it often contains too much sugar compared to the amount of vitamins and antioxidants.

  • Vegetable juice is good (tomato, carrot, vegetable mix)

  • Green tea is good (especially matcha tea)

  • Coffee is good

  • Any drinks that are high in sugar and some artificial colors are not that good

  • If you can see through the drink it is usually not that good because most of the antioxidants are contained in small parts of the plant that make the drink opaque

  • Pure water does not contain antioxidants, nor does it contain calories, which free radicals create when your body burns them. So if you exercise or sweat a lot, water is great. 

  • Most alcoholic drinks are not that good. However, if you want an alcoholic drink, you can still choose something that has some antioxidants in it. For example, red wine is better than vodka.

Avoid foods low in antioxidants and high in energy. Avoid eating too much sugar, rice, potatoes, bread, and meat. But all of this is fine if you don't overeat.
There is much more to be said on the subject and there are many different opinions. We are fully aware that this text is only one point of view. We try to give as good advice as we can.
However, we encourage everyone to keep searching for other people's opinions on the matter. Mainly because you will find some very tasty and healthy recipes that are definitely worth discovering!

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