Your body is made up of billions of cells and each cell is a world unto itself. Each cell has an intelligence of its own with a permeable membrane that allows nutrients in and metabolic waste out. Simple life-giving nutrients such as glucose and oxygen are taken in by a micro-organelle called mitochondria that then metabolizes them into energy. We call this energy ATP adenosine-tri-phosphate and it fuels each cell, fueling your whole body. Your cellular energy is supported by the efficient disarming of free radicals.
It sounds fun to be a free radical but physiologically, they are metabolic wastes or toxins that inhibit your body’s ability to produce energy. Free radicals create a burden on the cellular systems. The cellular intelligence prioritizes utilizing its precious nutrients to disarm free radicals, nutrients that would otherwise be used to support the metabolic process of energy production and repair. Mostly these nutrients are our vitamins and antioxidants that we receive from fresh fruit and vegetables. We know these foods are good for us and this is why.
The fresher and more colourful the plants you eat the higher levels of vitamins you receive, and therefore a surplus to counteract the harmful effects of free radicals. Free radicals are an inevitable part of your metabolic process so it’s not that they are bad, per se, but that you need to support the efficiency of the disarmouring metabolic process. Fresh colourful plant-based foods provide vitamins such as A, B group, C and E that protect the cell from harm. As well as antioxidant bioflavonoids such as quercetin and rutin, which are found in the pith of a fruit, just under the skin.
Free radicals also thrive in an environment that is not saturated with oxygen, therefore the more sedentary you are the less oxygen circulation you have. Also, the more stressed, busy and rushed you are, the more shallow your breathing. When the body is in the sympathetic mode of the nervous system, think fight-flight-freeze, breathing becomes limited to the chest rather than deeper in the belly, filling up your whole lung capacity. Blood flow is directed to the muscles and eyes in order to run from the tiger, so to speak, but the rest of the body becomes constricted. Deprived of blood flow, and therefore nutrients and oxygen.
So, although you may know the simple premises of eating your fresh fruit and vegetables, exercising more and stressing less, it takes on a new relevance when you know that it directly affects your capacity to feel good! You may be thinking – I do eat really well, and I do exercise a lot, and I do make time to relax - why do I still feel blah? The common denominator that I see in our culture is a lifestyle of high intensity, always doing. Always trying, even if that is trying to relax. We don't see the high intensity of our lives because we are so immersed in it, and we are rewarded and validated for being busy. We are always doing something, even if that is doing good, but it is not the same as simply being and doing nothing.
This is nothing new, and yet, ask yourself how often do you simply sit, alone, with nothing to do? To simply enjoy the taste of your tea, the scent of the air, the sounds of the birds, the sight of the night sky or the sensation of the sun on your skin. How often do you just pause, be still and let it all in? This is how you slowly but surely retrain your nervous system in the parasympathetic mode of rest-digest-repair. Tending and befriending yourself in this way will enhance your energy, sleep and satisfaction. Physically allowing your body’s intelligence to tend to free radicals and psychologically befriending you into your own radical freedom.