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Free Radicals

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Free Radicals

Posted by wantoknow on May 02, 2003 at 05:38:53:

Hello,

I wonder if someone can tell me exactly what free radicals are. I know there are a kind of byproduct of some sort of energy-making activity in the body, but what EXACTLY are they? For instance, are they bugs, bacteria, chemicals, toxic waste, rancid fats or what?

Thanks.



Re: Free Radicals

Posted by GregD on May 02, 2003 at 10:01:51:

In Reply to: Free Radicals posted by wantoknow on May 02, 2003 at 05:38:53:

Hi there,

Perhaps I can answer your question. I am a biochemist, who works in free radical research.

free radicals are molecules, which are produced during the so-called mitochondrial respiration, the action of killer cells (phagocytes; best known by non-scientists as white blood cells) when they destroy invading bacteria, etc. Mitochondria are small structures within cells where energy is produced, the so-called ATP (= an energy rich molecule, which is used by cells to function properly, repair damage, divide, copy DNA etc etc). In the process of producing ATP, oxygen inhaled from air and transported to cells is used as the so-called terminal electron-receptor (best explained as a transport vehicle to remove electrons which are produced during normal cellular biochemistry), which is converted to water, which is removed via sweating, exhaling and urinating. Oxygen is thus transformed to water. This is a step-wise process, during which oxygen derived free radicals are formed to finally form water. Sometimes, free radicals leak from the mitochondria. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules, which will directly react with any biomolecules (protein, DNA, lipid, Sugars etc) in their vicinity, thereby damaging the biomolecules, which looses its function, mutates or becomes toxic. Normally, free radicals are kept at bay by 3 mechanisms: 1. Enzymatic antioxidants, 2. Food antioxidants, 3. Repair enzymes. The first are proteins which are able to remove free radicals without being damaged. The second are the well-known natural antioxidants, such as vitamin C and E. They react with free radicals, thereby neutralizing the free radical. The antioxidant now becomes a radical, but this antioxidant radical is much more stable and less reactive, they are in turn neutralized by enzymes (e.g. dihydroascorbate reductase or glutathione peroxidase). The third are enzymes that repair damage to biomolecules, when the free radical has already reacted with the biomolecules.

Free radicals are both bad and good.

GOOD: T-killer cells (part of your immune system) deliberately produce high amounts of free radicals to kill bacteria. Nitric oxide, is a free radical which has an important signaling function in the body. It is involved in regulating the contriction of blood vessels (for instance during male erection)...and there are many more examples, but too complicated to explain.

BAD: if too many free radicals are produced uncontrolled, they damage biomolecules, leading to cancer, atherosclerosis, Alzheimerís dementia, Parkinsonís disease etc etc etc.

I hope I explained it as un-technical as possible...please be aware that the explanation is concise and for a layman...the real mechanism involving free radicals and antioxidants and their interconnection is extremely complicated and has been giving me grey hairs over the past decade or so...the research is far from complete and especially now that we know that they are in fact involved in many NORMAL biological processes (we used to think that all free radicals were bad).

Hope this answers your question.


GregD, PhD
Biochemist, Cell biologist



Re: Free Radicals

Posted by Helping You on May 02, 2003 at 10:20:14:

In Reply to: Free Radicals posted by wantoknow on May 02, 2003 at 05:38:53:

Greg is correct but here is the simple version. Basically, free-radicals are unstable MOLECULES that go bouncing around in your body damaging cells. Think of what happens when you throw a ball into a room full of set mouse-traps. They go off like a chain-reaction. So is the case with free-radicals. Unless they are stopped, free-radicals will continue to multiply and damage our cells until we die. Fortunately, that is where antioxidants come in. Antioxidants donate the extra electron needed to stablize the free-radical molecule rendering it harmless.

FYI, free-radicals are created from virtually all bodily processes so there is no escaping them. All we can do is defend ourselves. We can fight free-radicals in 3 ways:

1. Keep our immune system/metabolic antioxidants high (glutathione is an example of a metabolic antioxidant. Metabolic means it is made by the body).
2. Get plenty of antioxidants from diet/supplements
3. Limit our exposure to environmental, dietary sources of free-radicals. All foods create free-radicals in the body but rancid foods, processed foods, and sugars create the most.

I hope that helps

-HY



Re: Free Radicals

Posted by wantoknow on May 02, 2003 at 10:58:20:

In Reply to: Re: Free Radicals posted by GregD on May 02, 2003 at 10:01:51:

Wow! Greg, thanks very much! I have printed off your response so I can study it. Hope you visit the site often. I think we need your brains on here.

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Re: Free Radicals

Posted by wantoknow on May 02, 2003 at 11:00:47:

In Reply to: Re: Free Radicals posted by Helping You on May 02, 2003 at 10:20:14:

Thanks HY. I've printed this off too.

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Re: Free Radicals

Posted by Green on May 02, 2003 at 19:47:56:

In Reply to: Re: Free Radicals posted by Helping You on May 02, 2003 at 10:20:14:

Also, drink green tea. its packed with antioxidants, and always gives me a mental/energy lift



Re: Free Radicals

Posted by Green on May 02, 2003 at 19:49:27:

In Reply to: Re: Free Radicals posted by Green on May 02, 2003 at 19:47:56:

I forgot. try to get the caffeine free variety of green tea, and if possible go to a gourmet deli and see if they can get you the genuine, authentic green tea, that actually is a light green colour when you make the tea.



Re: Free Radicals

Posted by
DianeAC on May 02, 2003 at 21:31:55:

In Reply to: Free Radicals posted by wantoknow on May 02, 2003 at 05:38:53:

Gosh, EACH of you, Helping You and Gregory D posted such good explanations. The roomful of loaded mousetraps is a great description, Helping You, and Gregory, that was the first I knew that free radicals could be good. It's great having you two, and others, on this board. Many thanks.

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Re: Free Radicals (Archive in aging.)

Posted by Walt Stoll on May 03, 2003 at 08:38:42:

In Reply to: Re: Free Radicals posted by Green on May 02, 2003 at 19:49:27:

Thanks, Green.

A breakthrough in Green Tea information was released last month: Science News, April 12th, 2003, Volume 163, page 238: Matcha Green Tea (the green tea prepared during Japanese tea ceremonies) has 200 times as much epigallocatechin gallate (so far the most important known active ingredient) as in the common US green tea.

Hope this helps.

Walt



Re: Free Radicals (Archive in aging.)

Posted by Walt Stoll on May 03, 2003 at 08:39:26:

In Reply to: Free Radicals posted by wantoknow on May 02, 2003 at 05:38:53:

NMI

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Re: Free Radicals (Archive in aging.)

Posted by Green on May 03, 2003 at 09:29:59:

In Reply to: Re: Free Radicals (Archive in aging.) posted by Walt Stoll on May 03, 2003 at 08:38:42:

Walt

Do you know where this Matcha Green Tea can be purchased? All the green tea I buy at the grocery store seems to not be the genuine variety.I sure would love to get my hands on some of the authentic japanese tea.



Re: Free Radicals

Posted by Helping You on May 03, 2003 at 12:56:50:

In Reply to: Re: Free Radicals posted by Green on May 02, 2003 at 19:49:27:

I can't argue there. I am using a product called "Herbagreen Tea". It's in a liquid form, and is caffeine and flouride-free.

-HY

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Re: Free Radicals (Archive in aging.)

Posted by Walt Stoll on May 04, 2003 at 05:56:41:

In Reply to: Re: Free Radicals (Archive in aging.) posted by Green on May 03, 2003 at 09:29:59:

Hi, Green.

My bet is that, since this research was just published last month, that the Healthfood stores will soon have it in stock. I woudl predict that by July it will be readily available.

Of course public knowledge and commercial demand will drive how quickly this happens.

Walt

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