Prevent Free Radical Damage with Juices and Smoothies

By Pat Crocker

Making smoothies and juices from enzyme- and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables means that you’re releasing these virtual sponges into your body. Antioxidants and enzymes work together on the inside of cells to protect against free radicals, and antioxidants also circulate through the blood to neutralize free radicals outside the cell structures.

Free radicals are highly unstable molecules that are dangerous because they lack an electron, which causes them to latch on to other molecules in the body in order to steal an electron from them. In doing this, free radicals damage vital cell structures, thus destroying DNA, enzymes, proteins, and membranes and causing them to malfunction.

Free radicals are a product of stress, chemical pollutants, and toxins, as well as normal cell function. When cells create energy by metabolizing food or when our immune systems attack microorganisms, these essential cell activities produce unstable oxygen molecules known as free radicals.

There is no escaping the fact that your body will be producing the very agents of aging that contribute to wrinkles, sagging skin, loss of muscle tone, age spots, and the onset of age-related diseases. But there is a powerful tool that your body can use to mop up free radicals and prevent them from doing harm. That important preventive tool is the group of nutrients known as antioxidants.

Antioxidants are substances found in plants that act as sponges in your body to soak up free radicals. There has been a tremendous amount of research surrounding antioxidant vitamins (vitamins A, C, and E) and their role in slowing aging, boosting immune response, and reducing the risk of degenerative diseases.

If the foods you eat provide plenty of high-quality antioxidants, they can neutralize free radical damage and slow aging. Antioxidants are found in bright and dark red, orange, or green plant foods.