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FREE RADICAL GENERATION AND THE ANTIOXIDANT ( (PART I) - The free radical is not always the bad guy

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

Blended excerpts from Potential Within A Guide to Nutritional Empowerment

Authored by Franco Cavaleri ISBN 0-9731701-0-7

Original post: February 4, 2011

FREE RADICAL GENERATION AND THE ANTIOXIDANT ( (PART I) - The free radical is not always the bad guy

We so often hear about the “reactive or disease-instigating free radical” and the “neutralizing or protective antioxidant”, but many of us have little or no understanding of the chemistry involved. The perceived lack of interest in this subject steers writers away from describing it more fully for fear of losing their readers’ interest. However, the free radical and the antioxidant play tremendous roles in human health and disease, and a thorough understanding of their chemistry will more likely lead to complete antioxidant supplementation. Speaking on this topic in seminars, I find myself conversing with seemingly aware enthusiasts. But when I ask whether or not they understand the nature of this activity, the answer is too often no.

This chapter won’t teach you a university-level chemistry course. The objective is to present a distilled understanding of the essence of the free radical and the antioxidant. With such knowledge each time this subject comes up in a book or in future conversations, you’ll comprehend the dynamics and significance of the free radical’s interaction in the body and elsewhere.

FREE RADICAL GENERATION AND THE ANTIOXIDANT ( (PART I) - The free radical is not always the bad guy

The free radical is much more than just “a bad chemical that damages our body,” and the antioxidant is far more than a “good compound that neutralizes the negative reactivity of the free radical to protect the body.” In fact, as previously mentioned, we rely on free-radical activity for many life-supportive processes such as immune function and oxidation of nourishment for energy production.

Because they support the immune system and protect tissues, antioxidants have a “good-guy” image. However, an antioxidant can become dangerously reactive in the body and may impart free-radical activity itself under certain conditions. On the other hand, the free radical is our savior when it works under controlled conditions with the immune system to destroy and discard foreign and damaged materials. What this means is that the “good” and “bad” definitions commonly ascribed to these entities aren’t necessarily accurate.

Essential for biological health, free radicals are both facilitators and inhibitors of various biochemical systems, including hormone regulation. Nitric oxide and peroxynitrite, the nitric-oxide-derived free radical, are good examples. In some cases free radicals mediate tumor growth, but in other instances they fight tumor progression. Furthermore, free radicals are now recognized as gene modulators, a finding that differs immensely from the previous understanding of their influence as gene mutators exclusively.

The answer to this complex biological riddle is to know the functions of the different types of free radicals and identify the triggers that may turn helpful ones against us. This is central to the Ageless Performance program and the key to optimal health. If you’re able to gain a genuine appreciation for the interactions and influences that our foods and the nutrients they contain have on our biochemistry, you’re more likely to take my recommendations seriously and apply them as long-term lifestyle commitments. These intricacies are incorporated right into the program: you don’t have to worry about applying them individually. Just follow the instructions of Ageless Performance and you’ll come to understand that the complexity of this free radical equation is built right into the nutritional formula.


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