Are free radicals good for you?
You're probably familiar with the term "free radical." Most people fear these as really bad molecules that harm your cells. At least that's what we've all been told for a generation.

Turns out that the free radical theory is so flawed that it's useless. For one, your body makes a lot of free radicals every day. In fact, your body makes about 12.5 grams of superoxide daily, which is a bunch. Turns out, these free radicals might actually be good for you.

How is that possible? Well, it starts with the discovery of a team of researchers in the UK. You may know that lower life forms can regenerate limbs. In tadpoles, for example, tails regenerate if severed and the animal lives. These researchers from the University of Manchester found that hydrogen peroxide is the catalyst that makes it possible for their tails to regenerate in less than a week.

The team found that H2O2 increases quickly following tail amputation and remained high during regeneration. Then, to prove H2O2 was responsible, they limited reactive oxygen molecules (free radicals) by two separate methods. They used antioxidants, and, they removed a gene that makes reactive oxygen molecules. In both cases, the tail did NOT grow back!

Professor Amaya, the lead researcher, believes that there is a Goldilocks zone of ideal free radicals in your body. In other words, you can have too many and you can have too few. The Goldilocks zone is when they're "just right." Amaya's team has found that free radicals are responsible for every regeneration system they've tested, including those in humans. Too many free radicals cause cell damage. Too little results in reduced cell repair and immunity.

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So if free radicals are good for you, what about antioxidant supplements? Clearly, some people can get "overdosed" on antioxidants. More (supraphysiologic doses) might not be better for everyone. This is likely the reason for the often conflicting reports on the benefits of antioxidants — some people are getting too much of a "good" thing. However, this is a relatively small number of people. The majority of Americans eat a diet that's sorely deficient in antioxidants. Still, there are those who eat very well and have plenty of antioxidants in their system. That might be why some studies have shown problems with antioxidants.

I stand by my long held mantra: Eat what grows around you when it's in season, picked fresh, raised on fertile soils, and without chemicals. You'll not find a better nutritional free radical balancer than whole, living, organic, fresh-picked foods. You get all that God made in perfect balance. I challenge every pundit to prove me wrong.

Aim to have at least 2/3 to 3/4 of your food like this. Selected antioxidant supplements can be helpful, as I've told you in the past. But ripe living food is king. Please consider all of this in your daily routine. If a supplement doesn't appear to work for you, make sure you give it a few months. After that, don't keep wasting your money on it. Your body may not need it. But keep looking. In my experience, people who don't find success with one supplement will usually find it with another. Most Americans are deficient in many antioxidants, and need to take supplements.

REF: Borghino, Dario. "Free radicals boost tissue healing and regeneration," University of Manchester, Nature Cell Biology, January 16, 2013.

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