6. Understanding free radicals, where do they come from?
Understanding free radicals requires a basic knowledge of chemistry.
Atoms are surrounded by electrons that orbit the atom in layers called shells. Each shell needs to be filled by a set number of electrons. When a shell is full; electrons begin filling the next shell.
If an atom has an outer shell that is not full, it may bond with another atom, using the electrons to complete its outer shell.
These types of atoms are known as free radicals.
Atoms with a full outer shell are stable, but free radicals are unstable and in an effort to make up the number of electrons in their outer shell, they react quickly with other substances.
When oxygen molecules split into single atoms that have unpaired electrons, they become unstable free radicals that seek other atoms or molecules to bond to. If this continues to happen, it begins a process called oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress can damage the body's cells, leading to a range of diseases and causes symptoms of aging, such as wrinkles.
To put it in simple terms, a free radical is an incomplete molecule that is off-balance. In order to regain its balance it needs to “steal” an electron from another nearby molecule. It does so through a process called oxidation. The damaged molecule becomes a new unstable free radical in need of an electron.
This chain reaction, or free radical cascade, is spreading more and more rapidly. It generates disorder within the molecules of our body.
Sometimes this phenomenon can gain momentum and get out of control. As we age, and if we do not get enough antioxidants, this is more likely to occur.
Free radicals are unstable atoms. To become more stable, they take electrons from other atoms.
This may cause diseases or signs of aging.
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