Everything you need to know about free radicals and antioxidants

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Our bodies are a battleground between our own cells and free radicals, so you need plenty of antioxidant-rich foods to fight back.

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If you're sick of reading about free radicals, antioxidants, vitamin C and premature ageing without really knowing what they mean or how they're connected, then here's the low down...

What are free radicals?

Imagine you're searching through your wardrobe for a missing shoe - you're already wearing the perfect dress but you can find your shoe anywhere. That's essentially how a free radical is feeling, but it's after an electron rather than a shoe. These molecules, will do anything they have to to find their missing electron and they're willing to kill your healthy cells to steal it.

Free radicals are cause by processed junk food

There are loads of things that can cause a build-up of free radicals in the body, but the big enemy you need to avoid is over-processed, chemically enhanced junk food. Other biggies are smoking, stress, UV light, sun exposure and pollution.

Free radicals will prematurely age you

Imagine that all of your cells are being attacked on a daily basis...can you imagine how stressful and ageing that whole experience must be? Unprotected skin ages 24 times faster than skin that's protected and this is because of all the free radical damage. Japanese scientists also discovered that 85% of disease, including cancer and strokes, can be linked to free radical damage.

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants suppress free radicals, acting a bit like a police force for your immune system. There are lots of different types of free radicals and, as a result, there are a lot of different types of antioxidants that can protect you from the inside out. Amazingly, you only need a 0.2% concentration of the antioxidant Tretinoin to produce significant improvements in wrinkles according to The New York Times.

Eat foods that are high in antioxidants like berries

The easiest way to give yourself an anti-oxidant boost is to eat well - and that doesn't just mean fruit and veggies. A good portion of dark chocolate with lots of cocoa solids can boost your antioxidant levels by 20%. A single Granny Smith apple contains 5,000 antioxidants and cups of green tea can reduce your risk of high blood pressure by 46% over time.

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