What Antioxidants Do
What Antioxidants Do

Antioxidants are compounds that limit the impact of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons that damage cells and can lead to an increased risk of disease.

The name antioxidants refers to their ability to combat oxidation, namely oxidative stress. When the body is exposed to oxidation, it damages cell membranes and other parts of the body. In addition, oxidation limits the ability of molecules to function normally and can stop proteins and even DNA from working.

The human body generally makes enough antioxidants to fight off the effects of naturally occurring free radicals. For example, your body makes free radicals when you exercise or are stressed, but there are usually enough antioxidants available to prevent any serious harm and help your body recover quickly.

However, exposure to pollution, chronic stress, smoking, substance abuse, and other factors can increase the number of free radicals to the point where equilibrium becomes a challenge. Here’s a look at why antioxidants are important and what they do to keep your cells healthy.

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Safeguarding Normal Cell Function

Antioxidants protect your cells. For example, when free radicals try to damage a cell’s membrane, antioxidants rescue and eliminate their effects. However, when there is a free radical overload, the body can fail to cope, leading to disease and other immune disorders. For instance, some types of cancer are believed to be related to too many free radicals and the body’s inability to fight them off.

Increasing the number of antioxidants may better protect your body from the effects of free radicals. Researchers believe that antioxidants move through the body, looking for free radicals and eliminating them to reduce oxidation. As information about antioxidants and what they do becomes more well-known, people are looking for ways to increase how many antioxidants they have in their bodies to enhance protection for their cells.

In addition, people should limit exposure to air pollution, sun damage, smoking, and alcohol abuse if they want to reduce free radicals in their bodies.

How to Get More Antioxidants

Eating a diverse, healthy diet is one of the best ways to boost antioxidant levels. Many fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of antioxidants. Generally, anything that’s a good source of vitamins C, A, and E will give you plenty of antioxidants and combat oxidative stress.

Here are some other foods high in antioxidants:

Onions

Garlic

Beans

Green tea

Milk

Nuts

Lean meats

Mangos

Carrots

Red wine

Sweet potato

Vegetable oils

Fish

Berries

Spinach

Whole Grains

The list goes on. To increase your antioxidants, you should focus on eating healthy whole foods and plenty of fruits and vegetables. In general, whenever foods have strong colors, it’s a good indication that they are high in antioxidants. You can also buy supplements to increase antioxidants, though there are still questions about whether taking supplements is as effective as boosting your antioxidant levels through diet.

Fighting Inflammation

Antioxidants fight oxidative stress, promoting faster healing and better immune response. Typically, medical professionals advise people dealing with an injury to control inflammation because it can take longer for the injury to heal, and it affects the range of motion. Inflammation is a normal bodily response after an ankle sprain or a cut, but too much inflammation can lead to infection.

As a result, people often ice, rest, and compress the injury to keep inflammation down. This helps to reduce oxidative stress in the area and shorten the time to full recovery.

Peptides & Combating Oxidative Stress

Thymosin Beta 4 Fragment and BPC-157 are peptides that have shown, in animal models, that they are effective at reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. They also protect cells that support neurons and move tissue-repairing cells more effectively.

For example, in rat models, these peptides showed encouraging signs of growth and proliferation in central and nervous tissues after injury. They reduced oxidative stress and controlled inflammation. BPC-157 demonstrated effective tendon healing properties, especially for tendons that are hard to repair that usually require surgery.