As a nation, Australians love sport, they love to play sport, they love to watch sport and they love to bet on sport. They love to exercise and they love to venture into the great outdoors. From rugged coastlines to an endless outback, the favourable Australian climate is a great lure to enjoy many activities such as surfing, swimming, white water rafting, camping and exploring National parks. There are many team sports available to participate in and countless gyms and fitness studios to work muscles and tone bodies. Sounds like the perfect formula for a healthy nation! There is however a “but” and not the one you sit on at the end of an action-packed day!
When we exercise, and I’m including everyone here, regardless of our nationality or race, we create free radicals in our body, resulting in cell-damaging oxidative stress. Supplementing with antioxidants will prevent damage and strengthen our body’s defences. While we mostly understand the many benefits of exercise, we may not understand this one negative impact – the increased production of killer molecules or free radicals.
A free radical is a molecule that’s missing at least one electron. Healthy molecules have an equal number of electrons, which are like the building blocks of a cell, and match up in perfect pairs. But when bonds are weakened by external factors like pollution, exercise or stress, they split, and free radicals are formed. Free radicals are very unstable and react quickly, trying to capture the needed electron required to gain stability. In an effort to achieve this balance they bump up against healthy cells in our body and steal electrons from them. When the “attacked” molecule loses its electron, it becomes a free radical itself, beginning a chain reaction. Once the process is started, it can cascade, finally resulting in the disruption of a living cell and an increasing flood of free radicals.
Scientists now believe that free radical damage increases cellular deterioration, which is associated with accelerated aging, cancer, diabetes and coronary artery disease. Ironically, the human body is designed to regenerate most of its cells. Our bones, skin and blood cells all regenerate over time to slow the aging process. Free radicals, however, replace cellular regeneration with cellular degeneration, which ultimately accelerates the aging process. Environmental pollutants such as smog, cigarette smoke and car exhaust fumes all contain free radical molecules; as our exposure to them increases, so does our risk of degenerative diseases. The good news is that under normal conditions our body has the inherent ability to defend against free radicals by producing three substances; glutathione, catalase and superoxide dismutase. These antioxidant substances, neutralize free radicals by donating one of their own electrons, ending the electron-“stealing” reaction.
A problem occurs when free radical production exceeds the body’s ability to produce antioxidants. This can happen during intense exercise when athletes can use from 10 to 20 times the amount of oxygen than that of a sedentary person. During exercise, fat and sugar convert to energy through a process known as oxidation. During this process, most of the oxygen combines with hydrogen to produce water while approximately 5% of the oxygen forms free radicals. Under normal conditions, our body can defend against normal levels of free radicals, but if we exercise intensely, live in a polluted area, or have a stressful life, then supplementing with antioxidants may be of great value.
The best way to keep your immune system healthy and your antioxidant levels up is to eat a balanced diet with plenty of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, but unfortunately, this is not enough. Green harvesting, use of pesticides, food processing and additives all destroy antioxidants within our food and nutrient-depleted soils no longer provide us with the quality food our Grandparents enjoyed. Supplementation has become essential to give your body the boost it needs and keep those damaging and aging free radicals at bay.
Antioxidants are essential for maintaining health. A perfect example of a non-disruptive but supportive supplement is Mannatech’s AO product. Its powerful, advanced formula offers over 2 1⁄2 times more antioxidant protection than five servings of fruits and vegetables. Research shows that one Ambrotose AO capsule twice daily increases the body’s oxidative stress protection by 37.4%*. Measured with a validated marker of blood serum oxidative stress, the results show that AO provides over twice the increase in oxidative stress protection achieved from eating an additional five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
For more information on supporting the body from free radical damage, let’s talk….