Antioxidants are substances that help the body neutralize free radicals. The body creates its own antioxidant compounds to protect it. However, the levels of free radicals can accumulate and surpass the body’s own ability to neutralize them. Free radicals cause oxidative stress within the body and causes damage at the cellular level.

The body is exposed to free radicals from a wide variety of sources that include UV radiation from the sun and x-rays, food and water, and air pollution. The mouth is also a major source of oxidative damage when gums and teeth aren’t cared for properly.

Exposure to pesticides, toxic chemicals, and even frequent travel by aircraft increases free radicals within the body. A lifestyle that includes fried foods, polyunsaturated fats and excessive alcohol intake increases free radicals, along with bacterial, fungal and viral infections. An excessive amount of copper, iron, magnesium and zinc also results in the creation of free radicals.

Free radicals are responsible for causing a variety of illnesses and aging. As people become older, they’re less able to neutralize the effects of free radicals and they display the effects of “natural aging.” People become more susceptible to illness, disease, and outward signs that include gray hair and wrinkles. Antioxidants are the protective elements that help the body fight the effects of free radicals.

A wide variety of foods contain natural antioxidant properties that the body can utilize to fight the effects of free radicals. Among them are plant-based foods, along with those high in vitamin C and E. Berries, chocolate, coffee, and green tea are all sources of antioxidants.

For health and wellness, it’s crucial to eat a plant diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals. It’s important to note that free radicals aren’t all bad. The immune system utilizes free radicals to mount a defense against infections. The trick is to balance the intake of antioxidants and free radicals.

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