How Do Free Radicals Form In The Human Body
By definition, free radicals are atoms or molecules which have one unpaired electron in the outermost shell and which can exist in the free state. Being unstable, these free radicals are very reactive and would try to steal the electron from neighboring molecule to stabilize itself. While it gets stabilized, it forms another free radical and the chain reaction sets in. This is also termed as free radical cascade which can cause damage to healthy cells and tissues.
The free radicals are formed in the natural physiological processes that continuously takes place in our bodies and the surrounding environment. The potential aggravators for free radical formation in the body have been related to our diet; pollutants are particularly heavy metals from industries and automobile emissions, smoking, stress, drugs, alcohol, exercise, sunlight and host of other factors. Free radicals can be formed spontaneously in the body and also due to exposure to sunlight (Ultra Violet rays) or other pollutants in the ambient environment. The human body also has the natural defense system to mitigate the damaging effect of free radicals which works well up to a point. However, when the production of free radicals exceeds due to above triggers, which are common in modern lifestyles, the natural defense system cannot successfully neutralize them all.
There are many types of free radicals found in the body, but the most common of them involve oxygen. The groups of free radicals involving oxygen atoms in the human body are most widespread (since we breathe oxygen which controls our body processes) and are called Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). Athletes and people who do regular rigorous exercises have been found to be more prone to the damaging effect of free radicals since the faster breathing leads to higher oxygen levels and higher ROS formation. The ROS have been found responsible for aging in the human body and has been linked to many diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, etc. Some molecules in the human body like DNA, RNA, Cell Membranes, Fat, Proteins are more susceptible to damage from free radicals and leads to diseases linked to them.
The issue of free radical damage has become a major research subject in last few decades since it affects multiple body functions as well ageing processes. The scientific fraternity has found that healthy natural diet is comprising of some select fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils, etc. have “antioxidants” in them which is helpful in checking the uncontrolled chain reactions started by free radicals and thus protects the vital body functions. The inclusion of these recommended natural food items or their supplements in medical form has proven to be beneficial for all since they suitably complement the antioxidants produced naturally by the human body. The Vitamins, especially Vitamin E and Vitamin C are considered very useful for protection of cellular damage from the free radicals.