Ever wondered how you get all those wrinkles? Those annoying crow's feet at the corners of your eyes? Or those laugh lines around your mouth? Sure, these things are but part of the normal aging process. But what causes aging anyway? And is there anyway to retard it?
In biological systems, the normal processes of oxidation are what lead to aging. Oxidation causes the production of substances called free radicals which are highly reactive. These free radicals can readily react with and damage other molecules. Note that it says "molecules" so that means free radicals don't make the distinction between foreign bodies and healthy cells. And when free radicals start attacking the body's own cells, you can guess what the results are - Aging.
If only there was a way to get rid of those harmful free radicals...
Well, have we got good news for you? Free radicals are natural enemies of antioxidants. The function of antioxidants is to destroy harmful free radicals, counteracting the damaging of tissues and in effect, treating aging or causing its retardation.
Antioxidants are commonplace in nature. In fact, antioxidants are abundant in more common vitamins such as retinol or Vitamin A, ascorbic acid or Vitamin C, tocopherol or Vitamin E, and selenium. They can be nutrients (vitamins and minerals) as well as enzymes (proteins in your body that assist in chemical reactions). Antioxidants are believed to play an important role in preventing the development of such chronic illnesses as heart disease, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, and cataracts.
Although antioxidants cannot completely rid our bodies of free radicals, they can however work to retard or minimize the damage caused. Antioxidants block the process of oxidation by neutralizing free radicals. By neutralizing, they themselves become oxidized. For this reason, our bodies are always in need of a constant source of antioxidants.
How antioxidants work is a two-way process. First is the chain-breaking. This is where the antioxidant comes in to break the chain reaction of free radicals turning other molecules into free radicals like them. Chain-breaking is also called Stabilization.
The other aspect is more on the preventive side. Antioxidant enzymes like superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase prevent oxidation by reducing the rate of chain initiation. This time, instead of waiting for the free radicals to make a long chain of free radicals, antioxidants scavenge initiating radicals and destroy them before oxidation is set in motion.
Thus, aging is delayed and not only that, diseases and other illnesses caused by harmful free radicals are avoided.