Anyone who pays attention to their health will have heard by now the news that free radicals damage a body’s cells and leads to early aging. These free radicals are formed when oxygen reacts with certain atoms and molecules. The question then becomes: if a person can reduce or limit the damage caused by free radicals will that person be able to live longer?
There is a current theory that says that calorie restriction can help people live longer by limiting the amount of free radicals produced by the body’s mitochondria. When a person restricts the amount of calories consumed, the body has less energy to store. There is less fat and the body then requires less energy to support the body’s weight. This in turn means there is less glucose in the blood and less oxidizing.
However severe calorie restriction, which, depending on activity level would be consistently living on 1200 to 1400 calories a day, can have some severe side effects. One of the more serious could be a lack of essential nutrients. There could also be muscle and bone loss. Calorie restrictors might also be more susceptible to infection and disease.
The body uses antioxidants to keep cells functioning properly and to prevent damage by free radicals. Studies have shown that people with diets high in vegetables and fruits – which are naturally full of antioxidants – have lower cancer rates. This has led some to believe that consuming antioxidant supplements can protect against cancer and maybe also heart disease. While this has not been proven conclusively, the choice to take antioxidant supplements is a popular one.
Consistent exercise regimens have been shown to improve the body’s antioxidant defenses. This is not true though of people who exercise hard but only periodically. Nor is it true for endurance athletes. In these cases the oxygen increase generates more free radicals than the body is able to handle. It seems a body’s system can adapt to regular moderate exercise, which in turn offers a lot of benefits to the cardiovascular system but infrequent or very long, extreme exercise does more harm than good.
It would seem that a natural diet that mildly restricts calories and a lifestyle that emphasizes regular and moderate exercise would be the current best course of action for reversing the effects of aging caused by free radicals.
Eating whole foods that have naturally occurring antioxidants, such as dark green leafy vegetables, other colorful vegetables, fresh fruits and nuts and seeds, seems to work best with the body’s systems in fighting free radicals. And by not eating more than the body needs to function, a person would reduce the amount of fat in the body and help limit free radicals produced by excess fat.
Moderate exercise could mean just 30 to 60 minutes a day of brisk walking. This would be enough to improve cardiovascular health without overwhelming the body with free radicals. It would also help to keep insulin and glucose levels in control, along with a healthy diet that restricts the amount of processed sugars and carbohydrates that are consumed. Some weight bearing exercise for the upper body and core strengthening exercises would also assist with quality of life for aging bodies in order to prevent muscle loss and lack of maneuverability.
While aging is inevitable over time, people can slow the process down without too many drastic changes to their way of life.