Why Your Body Will Always Crave Antioxidants - Part 1

Written by Anil Bajnath, MD
Posted December 7, 2021

Antioxidants are a type of molecule that the body uses to protect itself from damage by free radicals. Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons. To become stable, they steal electrons from other stable molecules in the body and cause them damage. This is called oxidative stress and can lead to cell death.

WHAT DO ANTIOXIDANTS DO?

Antioxidants are an important part of many processes in the body including DNA repair, cell signaling, and immune function.  DNA repair refers to the process by which the body repairs damage to the DNA molecule. Cell signaling is the process that allows cells to communicate with each other and regulate their activities. Cell signaling is also important for immune function, which allows our body to fight off diseases and infections. Immune function is the ability of the body to protect itself from infection or disease.

Antioxidants can also help reduce inflammation. Inflammation is a normal response of the body to injury. Antioxidants interact with free radicals to protect the cells from oxidative damage by stabilizing the free radical and preventing it from stealing electrons from other molecules. 

ANTIOXIDANTS AND MITOCHONDRIA

The mitochondria are the organelles in the cells that produce energy. Mitochondria is Greek for “thread” or “vessel” and it is often called the powerhouse of the cell. The mitochondria produce energy by breaking down food molecules such as glucose and fatty acids. This process, called oxidative phosphorylation, produces adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the energy currency of the cell.

The mitochondria also play a role in cell death or apoptosis. When the mitochondria produce too much damage, they can trigger the cells to die. This is called apoptotic cell death. When this occurs, the mitochondria release cytochrome c, which goes into the cell’s cytosol and tells other organelles to start releasing proteins that induce apoptosis. Cytochrome c is a type of protein that is found in the mitochondria.

Oxidative stress occurs when there are either too few antioxidants or too many free radicals to counteract each other. This can lead to oxidative damage in cells, which is linked to aging, cancer, heart disease, and neurological disorders.

One of the ways that antioxidants protect the cells from oxidative stress is by reducing the amount of damage to the mitochondria. The mitochondria are very sensitive to damage by free radicals and can be damaged by oxidative stress. This can lead to a reduction in the production of ATP and can even cause the mitochondria to die.

Antioxidants are very important for the health of the mitochondria. They protect the mitochondria from oxidative stress and help keep them healthy. This is important because the health of the mitochondria is essential for the health of the cells and for the overall health of the body. 

Here's one of my favorite superfoods that's packed with antioxidants.

To your longevity,

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Anil Bajnath MD
CEO/Founder, Institute for Human Optimization
Chief Medical Officer, Longevity Insider HQ


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