However, Free radicals are "hungry" chemical substances. They steal electrons from others close to them.
Most of the time, this action can cause many problems.
Dr Lauri Wright, a registered dietitian and an assistant professor of nutrition at the University of South Florida, said, "Basically, I think of free radicals as waste products from various chemical reactions in the cell that when built up, harm the cells of the body (Szalay Live Science, 2016)
It works like this. Think of
Our body like a lake. And
Inside that lake, there are many fishes (represented many compounds, and molecules in our body)
When our body metabolises, this process creates Free Radicals. Imagine these Freee Radicals as a school of Piranha.
These Piranhas are swimming in that lake, looking for food. And if there was lack of food, in the lake these Piranhas would attack other fishes to satisfy their hunger.
When these Piranhas attacked, they wound other fishes' body parts. These fishes are crippled and unhealthy. If they were left untreated, they will adversely affect other fishes. They might even die. And when too many fishes died, the lake is no longer a healthy environment.
According to Harvard, School of Public Health
"An excessive chronic amount of free radicals in the body causes a condition called oxidative stress, which may damage cells and lead to chronic diseases."
The Better Health Channel of the Victoria Government in Australia agreed. It showed some conditions caused by Free Radicals include:
deterioration of the eye lens, which contributes to blindness
inflammation of the joints (arthritis)
damage to nerve cells in the brain, which contributes to conditions such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease
acceleration of the ageing process
increased risk of coronary heart disease, since free radicals encourage low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol to stick to artery walls
certain cancers, triggered by damaged cell DNA.
So, how do we deal with Free Radicals
Let's continue with the example Piranhas as Free Radicals.
You see, When Piranhas are hungry, they will attack other fishes (fish expert Dr H. R. Axelrod)
Similarly, in our human body where
"Free Radicals" as "Piranhas" And
"Food" as "electrons"
"Free Radicals" will attack or steal "electrons" from compounds that are close to them.
When these "electrons" are missing or stolen, it causescause damage to parts of cells such as proteins, DNA, and cell membranes. The damage process is called "oxidisation"
if there are enough "electrons" for the Free Radicals, there will be minimum damage caused. These electrons are given by Antioxidants
Let's talk about Antioxidants
When we consumed enough Antioxidants, we give enough "food" (electrons) to the "Piranhas" (Free Radicals). And when there is enough food, Piranhas will be unlikely to attack other fishes.
The Antioxidants are known as "electrons donors". They provide electrons to Free Radical, makes it no longer "Free" but a complete radical. And a complete radical won't "steal" electrons from others.
"The foods and drink that contributed most to a higher dietary antioxidant score were fruits and vegetables, tea and red wine (in moderation), while coffee was excluded from the analysis because it has already been linked to reduced type 2 diabetes risk."
In short, the less processed food, the better benefit they provide to our body.
Here is the quote from Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition (Balunkeswar Nayak, Rui Hai Liu & Juming Tang(2015))
It is apparent that complex mixtures of phytochemicals rather than a single antioxidant in foods are responsible for health benefits due to their additive and/or synergistic effects. It would be biased to measure the antioxidant activity of fruits, vegetables, and grains solely based on the presence of vitamin C or any individual antioxidative compound in raw or processed foods. It has already been reported that vitamin C provides only 0.4% of total antioxidant activity of apples, whereas other phytochemicals including phenolics, flavonoids, and anthocyanins contribute significantly to the total antioxidant activity in apple (Eberhardt et al., 2000). In addition to the investigations focused on measuring total phytochemicals, possible synergistic effects among antioxidative compounds should also be taken into consideration in antioxidant activity of processed foods.
It means vitamin pills or supplements could not replace a balanced diet.
Not all antioxidants work
Most of the antioxidants supplements have little supportive evidence that it can prevent disease
Beta-carotene: is used to prevent certain cancers, heart disease, cataracts, osteoarthritis, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Foods which are rich in beta-carotene:
dark leafy greens, such as kale andspinach.
red and yellow peppers.
We talk enough about food. What about drinks?
You already know about these drinks and chances are you have been drinking them daily. They are tea, and coffee,
Green tea contains EGCG (epigallocatechin 3 gallate) polyphenols, flavonoids are believed to contribute to the low rates of heart disease in Japan (Forester and Lambert 2011).
Consumption of coffee may increase glutathione levels and reduce the levels of DNA damage (Martini 2016)
Here is something you may want to know: Agarwood tea (Young Aquilaria leaves)
Young Aquilaria leaves
First, it contains the two potent antioxidants of green tea: Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), Epicatechin Gallate (ECG) (Tay et al 2014).
EGCG could improve insulin resistance, memory and decrease obesity (Diabetes UK 2017)
In addition, It contains Vitamin C, E and beta-carotene, Mangiferin and
genkwanin 5-O-β-primeveroside (1),
iriflophenone 3,5-C-β-D-diglucoside (2) and
iriflophenone 3-C-β-D-glucoside (3)
Just like coffee, young Aquilaria leaves increase glutathione levels
"Iriflophenone 3-C-β-D-glucoside showed prominent free radical scavenging activities and could significantly increase mRNA expressions of HO-1, GPx-1, and GR. The findings in this study provide scientific evidence that supports the claimed health benefits of A. crassna leaves." (Natural Product Communication 2017)
The power of one: Agarwood tea (Aquilaria leaves): 1 single ingredient with multiple potent antioxidant compounds
First, these leaves are 100% young Aquilaria Crassna leaves and nothing else
These leaves are hand-picked early morning and lightly roasted to keep the freshness and nutrition.
Once completed, they are sealed in a vacuum bag.
It is a herbal infusion.
There is no extraction, no mixing, no synthetic, no lab-produced substance
Young Aquilaria leaves, grown in our plantation.
Just like the hardworking farmers, growing their plants the old school way.
This could be due to the flavonoids' presence in the leaves (Wang et al., 2008; Qi et al., 2009; Feng et al., 2011; Ito et al., 2012).
Ethanolic extract of Aquilaria agallocha (synonym Aquilaria malaccensis) leaves has the potential as an anti-arthritic agent (Rahman et al., 2016). Generally, rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the denaturation of protein due to the production of auto-antigens in certain rheumatic diseases.
The presence of chemical constituents such as glycosides, tannins, terpenoids, oleic acids, terpenes and phenolic compounds in the extracts are thought to restrain heat-induced protein denaturation (Rahman et al., 2016).
Aquialaria leaves contain Mangiferin. It can
Act as vasodilators while showing no cytotoxicity
Mangiferin can dilate blood vessels. It allows blood to flow easier. Because of this property, it could be used to treat or prevent high blood pressure
(C) Mangiferin protected vascular endothelium function
Mangiferin is a potent antioxidant available in Aquilaria leaves.
It could be used to stabilise blood sugars
Aquilaria leaves contain mangiferin, iriflophenone 2-O-α-L-rhamnopyranoside, iriflophenone 3-C-β-D-glucoside and iriflophenone 3,5-C-β- D-diglucopyranoside demonstrate a strong α-glucosidase inhibitory activity. These compounds act as an antidiabetic agent and reduce the blood glucose level by controlling carbohydrate absorption from the intestine (Feng et al., 2011).
Aquilaria Crassna leaves contain Neuritogenic and neuroprotective constituents
"In summary, chromatographic separation from the leaves of A. crassna led to the isolation of three phenolic glycosides, genkwanin 5‐O‐β‐primevoside (1), iriflophenone 3,5‐C‐β‐d‐diglucoside (2) and iriflophenone 3‐C‐β‐d‐glucoside (3). Among these isolates, compounds 1 and 2 were shown to be the active principles responsible for the neuroprotective and neuritogenic of A. crassna. However, their exact mechanisms of neuroprotection still need further investigation"
Additional Fun Facts
Did you know extract from agarwood leaves could be used as a green steel corrosion inhibitor?
It means these extracts could be used to slow the rate of corrosion down because they are anticorrosive and antioxidant.
The below image will demonstrate its ability
(a) polished mild steel
(b) mild steel in Hydrochloric acid solution
(c) and (d): mild steel treated with Aquilaria leaves crude extract (ME) and aqueous extract (AE) in Hydrochloric acid solution