THE FREE RADICAL 411
How to Minimize Age-Inducing Atoms
If you’ve ever picked up a health magazine while waiting at the doctor’s office, then you’re probably familiar with the term “free radicals” — at least enough to know that they get a bad rap from doctors and beauticians alike. But what are they, exactly? According to Live Science, free radicals are atoms with unpaired electrons that have split off from oxygen molecules in the body and started to “scavenge” for other electrons to pair with. That wouldn’t be problematic, except that these atoms tend to damage cells, lipids, proteins, and even DNA along the way, and that destruction has serious consequences. As Live Science puts it, “Free radicals are associated with human disease, including cancer, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and many others. They also may have a link to aging, which has been defined as a gradual accumulation of free-radical damage.” Unfortunately, it’s impossible to entirely avoid free radicals and the havoc they wreak. The process that forms free radicals, called oxidative stress, can be kick-started by a variety of different substances found in food, water, medicine, and even the air we breathe, according to the Huntington’s Outreach Project for Education at Stanford University. Unsurprisingly, these substances are things already considered
unhealthy, like alcohol, exposure to X-rays, ozone, fried food, chemical pesticides, air pollutants, and tobacco smoke.
That said, there is one molecule that is stable enough to stand up to and reduce free radicals: the antioxidant. According to a study published by Pharmacognosy Reviews, antioxidants can “donate an electron to a rampaging free radical and neutralize it, thus reducing its ability to damage.” Synthetic antioxidants exist but can sometimes have harmful side effects, so scientists advise protecting yourself by avoiding free radical triggers like alcohol, processed foods, and red meat, and ingesting natural antioxidants in the form of berries, stone fruits, olives, onions, garlic, and green and black teas. Herbs and spices like cinnamon, basil, turmeric, and fenugreek can ratchet up your antioxidant levels too. While it can’t guarantee immortality, the right diet can certainly help you stave off aging and disease, so why not start today?
Before The Holidays Sweep You Away
SOME TIPS FOR FIGHTING SENIOR LONELINESS
The holidays are still a few months away, but, before you know it, Halloween and Thanksgiving will fly by, and we’ll up to our earmuffs in shopping, cooking, and decorating. While the Christmas season is busy and exciting, it can often be a time of loneliness and melancholy for our aging relatives and loved ones. So, before the holidays really get started, here are a few ways you can make the seniors in your life feel important and included in the festivities. HELP THEM WITH THEIR CHRISTMAS CARDS A major part of Christmas is spending time with family and friends, but many seniors feel loneliness around the holidays because illness and death take more and more connections away from them every year. A diminishing number of Christmas cards every year can really make this apparent. Helping your elderly loved ones with their cards and encouraging your family and friends to send them a card can go a long way to address those feelings of isolation. SIMPLIFY YOUR CELEBRATIONS While huge Christmas parties and lots of gifts might be a big part of your holiday season, your aging loved ones may appreciate simpler
traditions or even just spending time together. Show them that family is the most important thing to you during the holidays, whether that’s by baking with them, decorating a tree, or even just chatting with them about Christmas memories they enjoy. LISTEN TO THEM Making the seniors in your life feel heard, whether what they have to say is positive or negative, is the most important thing you can do to help with their loneliness. Having an open and honest conversation with them can help them process what’s bothering them and give you ideas of how to bring them some joy in the midst of their sadness. There’s no simple fix for helping people feel better around the holidays, but there’s value in making your elderly loved ones feel included in your seasonal celebrations. It will remind them they have people in their lives who care about them, and that’s something worth celebrating.
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