The role of Oxygen Free Radicals
How Energy is Generated in a Cell
We have already discussed what free radicals are. Oxygen, which we breathe and which takes part in all oxidation-reduction reactions, has the ability to build our cells and in the same time, to destroy them. It is known that heart diseases, stress, different infections and neoplasm activate free-radical oxidation.
How does oxygen influence a cell? Body cells have such centers as mitochondria, which generate energy. Owing to oxygen, mitochondria oxidize organic substances received by a cell. The generated energy transforms into ATP. This substance is a unique source of energy for all breathers. It does not stock up in the organism that is why it constantly regenerates. During this process, there appear both peroxides and free radicals. They can be also generated during energy transfer in a cell. They enter different chemical reactions with active substances of a cell. This process is constant. The onset of free radicals is specified by the nature of our organism. Iron and other metals stimulate generation of free radicals. This process has to be regulated, because the excess of radicals can harm a cell and its genetic code. Polyunsaturated fatty acids oxidize free radicals, creating water-soluble substances. Such substances are washed from a cell and, therefore, they renew and refresh it. Different diseases stimulate the process of cells renewing and refreshing.
What is the Antioxidant System?
The antioxidant system exists in our organism, which resists a damaging ability of free radicals and active oxygen forms.
This system generates substances, which bond free radicals with free oxygen by exchanging a hydrogen atom for free oxygen. It forms a conjugation, which is unable to create new bonds. Then these conjugations are removed from a cell. Some antioxidants inhibit oxidizing reactions. Antioxidants of our organism usually neutralize free radicals before they damage a cell. Antioxidant system cleanses our organism from any kinds of free radicals. It has different types of antioxidants. Some of them cleanse cells, others intercellular space or blood plasma and lymph. Our organism produces enzymes, which protect it from free radicals. They formed in all parts of the organism that contain oxygen. Catalase enzyme neutralizes toxic peroxide radicals incredibly quickly. It is especially active in the liver. Catalase can cope with free radicals if their amount is not very big.
Another enzyme that removes free radicals from our organism is peroxidase. It enters into reactions with free radicals if they form very quickly.
There is a theory concerning free radicals that connects free radicals formation with our life span. According to the theory, deterioration of antioxidant defense of the organism accumulates free radical damage in senescent cells. Proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and organic compounds are conserving our genetic code that suffers from free radicals damage. Fatty acids play a very significant role in a cell. Actually cellular membrane consists of essential fatty acids. If they are damaged by free radicals, it will cause growing disruption of cells that is typical for aging.
However, none of theories concerning human aging has been proved yet, and nobody knows for sure why people grow old. Many theories will be pit forward until we get to know that. Every human should have knowledge of harmful effects on the organism. The work of our organism connected with defending from deleterious effects of free radicals. Break your bad eating habits and improve your diet!