Free Radicals Explained

Dr. Mercola has produced a new video that explains free radicals, and how to combat them. Unfortunately, Dr. Mercola’s agenda is always focused on selling supplements or some other product to the public, so he always just scratches the surface without ever really explaining anything. I guess he thinks we should all just trust him because he is a doctor.

What is a Free Radical?

A free radical is an atom or molecule or ion that is “electron hungry”, which means that the atom requires additional electrons in its outer orbit/electron layer to become stable. For all intents and purposes in humans, free radicals are oxygen atoms. Oxygen has an elemental number of 8 which means it has 8 protons and 8 electrons orbiting the protons. The first electron layer for atoms has 2 electrons and the next layer has 8 electrons. Oxygen has an elemental number of 8 which means it has 8 electrons. That means Oxygen has 2 electrons in the first layer and only 6 out of 8 electrons in the second layer…which makes Oxygen “electron hungry” because it requires 2 additional electrons to become stable. In order to become stable, an oxygen atom will “grab onto” another atom of molecule (a collection of atoms in a group) that can “share” extra electrons. The best example of this is a water molecule which is made up of 2 Hydrogen atoms that can each share one electron and one Oxygen atom that is hungry for 2 electrons. That is why we see H2O in nature as opposed to HO or H3O.

Why Are Free Radicals Bad?

Electron hungry oxygen atoms attach themselves to any atom or molecule that can donate electrons. The process is called oxidation. You see oxidation in everyday life as rust on your car or on bridges when oxygen attaches to unprotected steel. You see the same thing when oxygen attaches to copper when you see a handsome copper roof turn brown or even green as oxidation takes place. What you don’t see is that the same decaying or oxidation process takes place in your body.

How Can Oxygen be Bad?

Our bodies require oxygen to survive. The trillions of cells in your body require fuel and oxygen to create a chemical reaction that produces the energy required for your cells to survive. That is why we eat food (to supply nutrients) and we breathe (to supply oxygen). In essence, the cells in your body are just like tiny little furnaces except furnaces require natural gas or oil instead of nutrients.

Here is where it gets tricky. The average person burns up about 98% of the oxygen that they breathe. The remaining 2% become free radicals as they don’t get used up in the energy creating process in our cells.

In athletes, particularly those that participate in extended aerobic activities such as running or cycling, the percentage of unused oxygen can be as high as 20%. The high rate of occurrence of free radicals is one of the reasons why we see so many athletes die at a relatively young age. If athletes don’t combat the free radicals created by the unused oxygen that they breathe, their bodies will literally decay in the same fashion that the unprotected steel on your car will rust.

The Logical Way To Combat Free Radicals

To recap, free radicals in the human body are electron hungry oxygen atoms. Since your body is made up of 70% water and our planet is covered with water, it seems logical that the best way to combat electron hungry oxygen atoms is to introduce free hydrogen which will combine with the oxygen to form harmless water.

How To Provide Your Body With Free Hydrogen

Your body naturally does this on its own. If it didn’t, we would all die at a young age. I will try to keep this explanation real simple because very few of us want to read about detailed chemistry.

The body creates free hydrogen from breaking down food that will easily generate free hydrogen that break off from molecules as the food is digested, or by absorbing free hydrogen from water.

What Are The Sources of Free Hydrogen?

Food: Dr. Mercola tells us that if we eat a diet based upon fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds, the food itself will produce antioxidants. He is correct. What he doesn’t say is that a lot of people don’t want to be vegetarians. Dr. Mercola’s solution is to take supplements that contain Resveratrol. Resveratrol is commonly found in the skins of grapes, so the simple solution for those of us that don’t eat as well as we should would be to click on Dr. Mercola’s “Buy Now” button on his website and his answer will show up at your door in a few days. You can keep buying the supplements from Dr. Mercola forever. What a great solution…for Dr. Mercola.

Water: You can also obtain free hydrogen from drinking water that is rich in free hydrogen. It makes perfect sense that it is much easier to produce hydrogen from drinking water than breaking down food because water is made up of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, and nothing else. The trick is to detach the hydrogen from the oxygen so that it can be absorbed in the form that the body requires.

The three ways to obtain hydrogen rich water The most natural and free solution is to find a fast moving mountain stream that is clean and rich in minerals such as magnesium, calcium, phosphate, or sodium. Good concept, but not practical for most of us.

For the past several years, the electric water ionizer industry has been telling us that they produce the best antioxidants in the world….and they are correct. The only problem with the hydrogen produced as a result of electrolysis is that nearly all of the hydrogen is lost after the first few seconds that the water has been produced. It is easy to witness this. You will typically see a massive amount of bubbles appear in your glass when you first get water out of an electric water ionizer. In fact, there are so many bubbles that the water often appears cloudy. The bubbles are hydrogen gas, the source of a massive amount of antioxidants. The problem is that the hydrogen gas bubbles are lighter than water and they quickly float to the top of the glass where they interact with air. When the hydrogen bubbles interact with air, their antioxidant properties are lost when you drink the water. The bottom line is that if you use an electric water ionizer to produce antioxidants, drink the water in the first few seconds after the water comes out of the machine. I always drink the water produced by an electric water ionizer in the first few seconds and the results have been great.

I believe the most practical and cost effective way to obtain antioxidants is to drink water produced by an antioxidant filter. The hydrogen generated from the filters is done naturally instead of being forced by the process of electrolysis. When water comes in contact with the magnesium found in the filters, the attraction between oxygen and magnesium is much stronger than the attraction between oxygen and hydrogen. As a result, the hydrogen atoms break away and remain in the water. These are the same hydrogen atoms that are produced by electric water ionizers but the process is natural and gentle instead of the water being electrocuted. As a result, the hydrogen atoms are not being forced together to form hydrogen gas. As a result, the hydrogen atoms remain in the water as long as the magnesium is present.

When you consider the effectiveness in generating free hydrogen, water has it hands down over foodand it is virtually free compared to all of the advertised antioxidant products.

When it comes to choosing which type of water to choose from, the natural process and stability of the hydrogen produced by an antioxidant filter makes a lot more sense than bashing hydrogen atoms together to form hydrogen gas which is quickly lost during the process of electrolysis.


When you factor in the cost of water over food in producing antioxidants, water wins by a landslide. When you compare the cost of an antioxidant filter versus an electric water ionizer which costs five to ten times more, you can understand why I’m such a big fan of antioxidant filters. I think electric water ionizers will always have a role to play as they work and they also produce acid water which can be used as a disinfectant. However, when it comes to the health benefits and the cost to achieve those benefits, antioxidant filters win by a slam dunk.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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