Sighing, talking, kissing, eating, jumping and all the actions we perform in everyday life would not be possible without the intervention of oxygen. Hence, the process of oxidation be something natural and necessary.
Through chemical reactions of oxidation Our body gets energy from certain food compounds, such as sugars and fats. As these compounds are oxidized (lose electrons), they yield energy that is captured by our cells and transformed into simple elements.
This process of oxidation It concludes when oxygen - which reaches our cells through respiration - captures the electrons that are released from energy sources. The electrons we discard through water and carbon dioxide that we also expel when we breathe.
Inevitably, during the oxidation reactions in our cells, compounds known as free radicals are generated, molecules that oxidize the substances of the cells themselves: proteins, fats, genetic material, among others. This deterioration is associated with aging and illness.
Our body has a protection against free radicals. The natural "antioxidant" system consists of proteins (enzymes) that trigger chemical reactions to eliminate radicals and other oxidizing molecules.
The problem is that daily stress, illness and other circumstances produce an excess of these molecules, against which our body does not have sufficient defenses.
Fortunately, we can access an additional package of antioxidants through a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, since a large number of them have a high content of compounds that neutralize free radicals, mainly flavonoids and vitamins A, C and E, detailed Agustín López Munguí a, specialist of Institute of Biotechnology of the UNAM.
The own antioxidants of the organism and of the foods differ a lot in their chemical nature and in the mechanism to fight free radicals. In addition, they do not act alone, as medicines do, but in such a way that their activity is enhanced by the presence of each other, as well as other cellular substances. Hence the beneficial effect of fruits and vegetables, and even spices, hardly comparable with that of food supplements, he explained.
The oxidation It can contribute to the development of viral infections or diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's and cancer. However, our cells also form oxidizing molecules, which they use as mechanisms of regulation and expression of our genes to perform certain functions, or to defend themselves against bacteria and other threatening microorganisms.
At the same time, some diseases derive from an unjustified activation of our oxidative defense system in the face of a false alarm, that is, a signal of perceived danger but nonexistent, which gives rise to autoimmune diseases and allergies.