Think of them as internal terrorists roaming your body, looking for cells to destroy, depriving tissues of blood flow, preventing the removal of plaque and fats from your system. They’re unstable oxygen molecules that come with every breath you take and, like terrorists, they can be hard to find and even harder to destroy.
Free radicals damage the body’s DNA (the body’s genetic code) by injuring or breaking the chemical bonds between the DNA molecules. As more damage builds up in the DNA strands, the DNA-coded messages begin to be improperly translated and cellular function goes awry. It doesn’t help that oxidation is caused by everything from the air you breathe to the foods you eat to environmental chemicals that can’t be controlled. A body in the grip of free radical damage is susceptible to a host of life-threatening diseases and premature aging.
Ever since Pasteur proposed the germ theory of disease, the race has been on to find and conquer dangerous organisms that invade the body. As little as thirty years ago, it was thought that living cells did not harbor reactive oxygen species. The idea was that free radicals were so unselective and unstable, they couldn’t exist in a living system.
Today, scientists agree that aerobically respiring (alive) cells produce two kinds of radicals, the good - which need to be nourished - and the bad, that can cause irreparable destruction. The trouble is that the body can’t fight the bad when it’s compromised by any number of outside contaminants. Your body has antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase that moderate the harmful effects of free radicals. But when bombarded by environmental sources of free radicals such as smoke, alcohol, air pollution, etc., these natural enzymes are not enough to defend against the continuous onslaught of natural and environmental free radicals.
And if that’s not enough, here is what Dr. James Balch, M.D. has to say about our oxygen supply, “Oxygen is the source of our 'life-energy,' but there is a problem. We aren’t getting enough of it. The oxygen-producing forests are being destroyed. Modern industrial technology is polluting the air, further depleting the Earth’s oxygen supply. In the past few hundred years, the oxygen content of our atmosphere has decreased by almost 50 percent.”
It is common medical knowledge that most diseases will not thrive in an oxygen-rich environment. That has been proven in the case of cancer. If there is enough oxygen in the cells, cancer and other degenerative diseases cannot exist.
“As antibiotics in the last fifty years of the twentieth century helped cure many infectious diseases, so antioxidants will affect a cure of many supposedly incurable diseases in the twenty first century and slow the aging process dramatically” – James F. Balch, M.D.
Research by biogerontologists indicates that aging takes place because of destructive cellular changes brought on by free radicals. Professor Rajindar Sohal of the Department of Sciences at Southern Methodist University in Dallas concluded, following the examination of recent free radical studies, “There is enough evidence to give good credence to the free radical theory of aging.”
Let’s face it, free radicals just won’t go away. Even if you never ate anything you didn’t grow yourself, or moved to the Australian outback, free radicals would find you. Or, you could eat curry morning, noon and night for the rest of your life in an effort to get enough curcumin to ward off disease.
There are many different curcumin supplements available on the market today.