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In 1956, Denham Harman created the theory of free radicals, metabolic waste produced by the breakdown, according to which, over the years, they would accumulate and would play a powerful oxidising action, damaging almost all the constituents of the organism.

Free radicals are products of "scrap" that form naturally inside the mitochondria of cells of the body, where oxygen is used in metabolic processes to produce energy (oxidation). Free radicals are unstable molecules, ie, molecules that possess only one electron instead of two, ready to react with any other molecule with which they come in contact, for appropriating one of their electron; so these molecules are unstable in their turn and look at their once an electron, triggering in this way a mechanism of instability in the chain.

Under normal physiological conditions there is a state of equilibrium between the endogenous production of free radicals and their neutralization by the body. If you are in tiny quantities, radicals help the immune system in eliminating germs and bacteria in the defense.

But when their production prevails, it is to determine an injury that eventually gets a progressive wear of body and mind.

The destructive action of free radicals is addressed primarily on cells, in particular on fats which form the membranes on the sugars and phosphates, on the proteins of their central core, especially on the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), where alter the genetic information, enzymes, etc..

The continuous action of free radicals is evident especially in the premature aging of cells and in the onset of various serious diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, emphysema, cataracts, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, dermatitis, arthritis, etc..

In addition to the normal biochemical reactions of cellular oxidation, other agents that cause the formation of free radicals are:

- Some dysfunctions and pathologies such as cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory states in general, trauma to the nervous system, etc..;

- Ischemia of tissues and consequent reduction in blood supply;

- Diets too rich in protein and animal fat;

- Food is not tolerated;

- The action of gaseous pollutants and toxic substances in general (carbon monoxide and lead produced by combustion engines, cadmium, lead and mercury from industrial products, oil derivatives by chemical processing, etc..);

- Cigarette smoking;

- Alcohol;

- Ionizing radiation and the solar (excess ozone and UVA and UVB);

- Medications (particularly corticosteroids);

- Stress;

- Intense physical activity (because it causes a considerable increase in reactions that use oxygen)

The action of excess free radicals can be countered by regular and constant intake of antioxidants.

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