Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Acai’s Ability To Neutralize Free Radicals –Its Impact on Cancer Research

We are living in this era of increasing cancer cases due to frequent exposure to toxins and various forms of health hazards that have recently surfaced. You have probably heard the term “free radicals” over and over again. You know it’s a bad thing that’s frequently associated with cancer and other disease processes. How do you stop it from causing havoc to your health? Are we completely helpless against it?

Free Radicals

Free radicals are molecular structures which contain an unpaired electron. Electrons are normally paired, which keeps them stable. Imagine free radicals as a single person desperately looking for a mate. He searches erratically and wildly, stealing wives of other electrons and creating chaos within their families (cellular structures). To make matters worse, he influences others to be like him through a chain of reaction.

Free radicals are produced by the body in reaction to exposure to harmful elements in the environment such as cigarette smoke, processed foods loaded with preservatives, engine exhaust, UV radiation, heavy metal products, and pesticides.

Free radicals are dangerous because they damage your cells, eventually resulting to mutation or degeneration.

When they react with the protective covering of the cell called membrane, or important components of the cell including the DNA, they alter its codes compromising immunity. The cells function poorly and eventually die. This leads to several diseases. The cellular damage from free radicals has been associated with diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, premature aging, high blood pressure and sepsis.


Your body defends itself through antioxidants. Antioxidants are like noble people who reach out and interact with the wild free radicals to make them stable. They prevent free radicals from stealing electrons from other molecules. The free radicals are also stopped from oxidizing the sensitive biological molecules thereby reducing the number of free radicals.

Antioxidants are important in fighting infection by maintaining the body’s immune system. Lowered immunity is a factor why cancer develops in your body.

Your body has innate enzyme systems that counteract the effects of free radicals. Antioxidants are also derived from the food that you eat. Vitamin E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C which are rich sources of antioxidants are not synthesized by the body so they have to come from your food.

Can Antioxidants Prevent Cancer?

Laboratory studies show promising effects of antioxidants in slowing and possibly preventing cancer development. However, clinical studies are still not sufficient to back up the results. Results have been inconsistent. Although antioxidants are shown to exert beneficial effects in the prevention of cancer, they may be counterproductive for patients who already have cancer, because it can allegedly interfere with the cancer cells’ self-destructive abilities.

Large scale clinical trials are still being pursued to study the effects of antioxidants on cancer. Mostly, studies are centered on the antioxidant effects of beta-carotene and vitamins A, C and E.

Lately, other food sources are discovered to have potent antioxidant properties, several times over the more frequently studied antioxidants. Acai berry is one of those superfoods.

Acai Berry and its Antioxidant Properties

Acai berry is a round purplish fruit that grows in floodplains and swamps. It can be found in the Amazon forest of Brazil. It is steadily rising in popularity because of its amazing health benefits. It is touted as the number one superfood in the world because of its high antioxidant value.

It contains anthocyanin which has potent antioxidant properties that is 30 times higher than that of a glass of red wine. Acai berry is likewise rich in other flavonoids such as homoorientin, orientin, taxifolin, deoxyhexose, isovitexin, scoparin, proanthocyanidins , and resveratrol give the fruit over 80% of its antioxidant effect. This explains the highly antioxidant properties of the fruit.

The Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) content, is used to measure the antioxidant capacity of a food. Acai berry scores way higher than other fruits tested, including blue berry and apple.

The supplement preparations of acai berry come in juice or capsule form. The former has to be mixed with other fruits for a better tasting blend. This leaves the product with very little concentration of the main ingredient, which is acai. It has preservatives to prolong its shelf life, which may do you more harm than good. The capsule form uses 100% acai, without the need for harmful additives.

In laboratory studies using cell culture model, acai has been found to kill cancer cells through its powerful antioxidant activity. It was discovered to trigger a self-destruct response in cancer cells. Researches on human subjects are yet to be done to be able to safely conclude that acai can truly treat cancer.

The complexity and health benefits of acai berry are still being understood. It has only been brought to the United States for the last couple of years although people from Brazil have been enjoying the fruit since ages ago. Hopefully, more studies will reveal the healthful benefits of this fruit wonder.


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