Chemical reactions take place continuously in our body to transform the active ingredients of food into substances that can be assimilated by the body itself.
These chemical reactions are called "oxidation", as they use oxygen to develop.
From the oxidation of organic and inorganic compounds, the so-called "free radicals" are formed as secondary waste products:
these are highly reactive molecules constantly present in our organism, a natural process in living organisms.
When, for internal or external reasons (environmental factors) to the organism, the quantity of free radicals exceeds the "equilibrium" one, a situation of "oxidative stress" is created which can damage the cell structures, starting from the membrane up to the nucleus / DNA.
If the antioxidant defenses of the cell and the body are not sufficient to maintain the physiological redox state in balance and the stress situation is prolonged, the excess of free radicals can generate vital alterations that become irreversible in the long run.
Antioxidants are chemicals (molecules, ions, radicals) or physical agents that slow down or prevent the oxidation of other substances.
Antioxidants prevent or slow down the oxidation phenomenon: they are in fact able to neutralize free radicals and therefore protect the cells.
They themselves oxidize in place of cellular structures, effectively managing to "capture" the free radicals that are generated by cellular metabolism.
This is why they are considered important in the protection of cell damage.
The body naturally produces a series of antioxidants defined as "endogenous".
These include glutathione, coenzyme Q and the superoxide dismutase and catalase enzymes.
Moderate daily physical activity facilitates the production of endogenous antioxidants.
The other antioxidants useful for maintaining the right level of electrochemical balance in the body are introduced daily through food.
As always in nature, the benefit of antioxidants and their absorption by the body are greatest when taken directly from food, without claiming to break down the individual active ingredients, due to the synergistic effect of all the substances present in each food.
The millenary tradition of nutrition also minimizes any unwanted side effects.
Classification of antioxidant active ingredients.
Until 2012, the ORAC index (Oxygen_radical_absorbance_capacity) was used as a reference
In recent years it has been abandoned, first in the US, in the face of the evidence of the difficulty of evaluating the real "in vivo" efficacy of the antioxidant effect of a product.
As always happens in nature, the food in its ("phyto")complex contributes to the balance of the organism more than the sum of the individual active ingredients with chemical reactions, sometimes still not well understood, which would deserve much more in-depth studies.
A varied, healthy and balanced diet favors the introduction of all the necessary antioxidants, many of which are found in abundance in fruit and vegetables.
Antioxidants and human organism.