No one wants to grow old.
Free radicals are responsible for the changes and shortening of the DNA in our cells, which in turn causes the visible changes of ageing. Free radicals are compounds created when a molecule in our body gains or loses an electron, rendering it unsuable. Apart from damaging the DNA, excess free radicals can harm protein structure and cell membrane. This results in diseases such as arthritis, respiratory diseases, hypertension, cancer, diabetes, parkinson’s disease and obesity. Production of free radicals increases with infection, inflammation and during exercise. It increases exponentially with exposure to environmental pollutants, cigarette smoke, radiation and solvents.
Antioxidants acts as scavengers, removing the destroyed or fragmented DNA caused by free radicals. Now a days they are prescribed as the panacea of all ills. Conditions ranging from poor immunity, male fertility, heart attacks, diabetes, cancer to even ageing are said to benefit from antioxidant supplements.
Antioxidants occur in a variety of foods, especially colored (red, yellow, green, purple) fruits and vegetables. They are not heat stable, so it is better to eat the fruits or vegetables raw. People who eat 4-6 helpings of fruits and vegetables a day have a lower incidence of cancer and live longer. On the other hands they tend to be health conscious, exercise, have healthier lifestyle and are conscious of body weight.
Patients with cancer are often advised to take supplements of megavitamins and antioxidants. They may actually be detrimental. Recent studies have proved that high doses of beta-carotene increases the risk of lung cancer in smokers. Vitamin E can increase the risk of prostate cancer and high doses of Vitamin C the risk of bladder cancer.
Instead of antioxidants :
- Invest in a pair of gym shoes.
- Walk, jog or run 40 mintues a day.
- Eat 4-6 helpings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day.
- Do not smoke or spend time around smokers.
- Try to avoid excess sxposure to sunlight, dust, dirt and infection.