Almost any activity that you perform results in free radical formation. There are many external agents that can cause free radicals to form in our bodies.
Let’s start out by defining what a free radical is. If you have taken a chemistry class, you may already understand this. A free radical is an atom or compound that is missing an electron in its outer shell that is normally there.
There are normal ways that an atom can fulfill its need to complete its outer shell. For instance, Sodium (Na) has one electron in its outer shell, but it wants two. Chlorine (Cl) has seven electrons in its outer shell, but it wants eight. So, when Cl comes in contact with Na, they sort of mate to form NaCl, which is ordinary table salt.
Now let’s go inside of your body. There probably never was a time when free radicals were not forming in your body. Any process within your body can produce free radicals. However, by eating lots of fruits and vegetables, free radicals can be neutralized. That’s all fine and good, but enter pollutants from the air we breathe, the chemicals we ingest when we eat processed food, over-exposure to the sun, and other activities such as hard physical labor or hard contact sports, and we have the potential for severe health problems. (I often wonder about the constant pounding and abuse withstood by a football player’s body having something to do with health problems sometimes encountered later in life.) Continue reading