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The Oxygen Paradox

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 by Danielle Renee Lee

Oh yes friends…there is a paradox to oxygen; A natural contradiction that ought to be accepted and understood. So what is it and why is it?

We all know that oxygen is vital to our survival; we absolutely need it to breathe. Breathing is something that cannot be postponed; the way water can for a couple of days or food for weeks. So then how can something so necessary be so detrimental, as well?

Breathing in oxygen is harmful in that it causes the formation of free radicals in our bodies. This is a natural by-product produced from the oxidation process. Basically, free radicals are atoms that have at least one unpaired electron, which makes them unstable. They cause our cells damage by stealing stable electron partners from other cells. (That’s why…“it takes two to make the things go right” ♫)

The easiest way to think of it is with an apple. Once you cut open an apple, the oxidation begins and the fruit starts to turn brown. This happens to your cells. Free radical damage can be contributed to a list of ailments and diseases such as aging, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and arthritis. In addition, it can bring about DNA damage, leading to mutations and some types of cancer. So what’s a human being to do?

Cue the antioxidants!  This is why there is such hype for the antioxidants. Below is a list of the top 20 foods highest in free radical relief a.k.a. antioxidants.

Since most people do not consume as many live foods with antioxidants, other major sources include green tea, wine (more red than white), and coffee. Actually, for Americans a cup of java is the number one source of antioxidants. There are supplements out in the market, for antioxidants also. However, supplements should not be considered a replacement for fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods.

This is especially important health information for athletes to know. For physically active individuals, the rate of free radicals happens at a larger rate because exercise increases oxygen utilization 10 to 20-fold compared to a resting state. It’s like an exercise paradox within the oxygen paradox. If you or someone you know is actively into fitness, please get them the help (antioxidants) they need. ;)

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