Stress is part of normal life these days. We never have enough time, money or energy to do everything that needs to be done. Add to this the feeling that we are no longer in control of what is happening, and we have a classic stress situation. This is exacerbated by the extra worries of living and working in the current economic climate. Many of us are more than usually fearful for our livelihoods, or already struggling on low incomes.

Those running their own businesses are particularly prone to stress, due to the pressures of responsibilities, deadlines, and financial worries, plus long hours.

Stressed people rush about, breathe shallowly, feel overwhelmed, sleep poorly, eat badly, are emotional or withdrawn, perform badly at work, and are prone to accidents, depression, sickness and disease. This is not a good state to be in for your business, or your life.

Do you actually know anyone who is not stressed? Even those who appear calm and well-organised are often inwardly anxious about something; if they are not, they are probably already on antidepressants, in my experience. It can’t be right that we need medication, or self-medication in the form of alcohol, drugs or caffeine, just to get through a normal day. What is your crutch?

Stress does terrible things to us – it makes us look old and grey, we can’t sleep properly, we are tense and terse, and any thought of looking after ourselves tends to go out the window. But that is exactly what we need to do to counter this. Stress is the enemy – well, not exactly stress, but free radicals, which are caused by stress of any sort. And this is the cause of every disease, whatever the symptoms. Yes, I said, every disease – which means, very simply, that if you tackle free radicals, you can improve your health.


What are Free Radicals?

Here’s a little background information for those of us who didn’t pay attention in Biology class at school: Our body is made up of cells. Cells are made up of atoms. Healthy atoms have a pair of electrons. Atoms replicate themselves, and keep our cells, and therefore us, young and healthy.

However, this rosy scenario can go wrong: Atoms missing one electron are called “unpaired”, and are known as free radicals. The unpaired atom attacks other healthy atoms, with two, “paired” electrons, in order to steal an electron; this either destroys the healthy atom, or damages it, which leads to the damaged version being replicated. All this destruction and damage leads to degeneration, or ageing, at the cellular level; remember, your body’s health depends on that of your cells.

How are free radicals created? A surprising number of things: anxiety and mental stress, environmental pollutants, foods and food additives, sunlight, smoking, pesticides and insecticides, chlorine in treated water, X-rays, mercury (in dental fillings and seafood), medications, intense exercise, air travel, and so on. As an example, one cigarette creates 1,000,000,000,000,000 free radicals. That’s a lot.

So, what we see as ageing, whether externally with wrinkles and changes in skin textures, or internally with degenerative diseases such as premature ageing, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancers, and many others is mostly caused by the damage done to our cells by free radicals.

Fortunately, the risk of these and other illnesses and diseases can be slowed down or even largely reduced, as I will explain later.


Coping with Stress

Here’s a pick-and-mix bag of non-harmful support resources to counter stress: exercise (walking, swimming, yoga, cycling, jogging), meditation, breathing exercises, massage, prayer, talking to friends or a therapist, listening to music or reading, and so on. Any these activities will make a terrific positive difference to your life, in many ways, and are well worth building into your schedule.

However, although they are all helpful, these days such activities are simply not enough to deal with the bombardment of our bodies by free radicals. So what else can we do to restore and protect our natural health?


Fighting Free Radicals on their Own Ground

The solution to free radicals is, simply, antioxidants. These also operate at a cellular level. Antioxidants have spare electrons that they can give to free radicals, which neutralises their harmful effects; this defends you from ageing, sickness and disease. Yes, it is as simple as that.

There are several enzyme systems within the body that scavenge free radicals, but these can only do so much.

OK, so where else can you get antioxidants from? Fruit and veg, any schoolchild will say, and the more colourful the better. They are also in nuts, seeds, whole grains, oils, beans and so on. The main micronutrient antioxidants are Vitamin E, beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A) and Vitamin C. Selenium also has a role. As the body cannot manufacture these micronutrients, they must be supplied in the diet.

However, lots of research shows that, due to depleted soils, transportation and storage, processing and packaging, the levels of antioxidants and other nutrients in our foods is nowhere near either what they used to be, or what we need. And this applies even to fresh, locally produced, organic foods, although of course these are a better choice. This is shocking, especially to people like my friend Abigail,who is convinced that her diet is healthy enough – it simply isn’t these days.

And a lot of us don’t make healthy food choices, either. Are we all doomed?

Help is at hand, fortunately. Top quality pharmaceutical standard nutritional supplements supply all the antioxidants needed to eliminate free radicals and their harmful effects. A well-balanced formula of quality nutrients, in a form that is easily absorbed, will supply your cells with the nutrients they need to do battle with free radicals, thus restoring and safeguarding your health.

If you still don’t believe it’s that simple, here’s Lester Packer, of the University of California: “By controlling free radicals, antioxidants can make the difference between life and death, as well as influence how fast and how well we age.”

Now you know, which future will you choose – illness, or wellness?

[First published on Affinity group blog]