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Press releases

07 August 2017

Damaging Free Radicals: the hidden dangers of exercise and the possible remedy that’s already in your fridge

  • Exercising generates highly unstable molecules called free radicals which attack essential lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids in our body’s cells
  • Vitamin C, found in pure orange juice, contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress induced by exercise

We all know that exercise is great for our physical and mental wellbeing, but a lesser known hazard of hitting the gym or committing to a summer jogging programme is that intense or strenuous exercise puts our cells at risk of oxidative stress.

This is a process whereby muscles under strain release toxic, unstable molecules called free radicals which can target and damage essential structures in the body’s cells. The long-term effect of this may be increased inflammation, which is associated with several conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

However, celebrity personal trainer Nicola Addison, whose clients have included Elle MacPherson and Daisy Lowe, urges Brits not to be deterred from their summer fitness regime. “This time of year I often see clients who want to get in shape very quickly ahead of a summer holiday," she said.

"The problem is that very intense exercise does have its risks. Free radicals may sound scary but there are simple steps you can take to protect your cells from oxidative stress and still enjoy getting fit.”

And the ally that can help with lowering this oxidative stress is a familiar friend: vitamin C. Consuming 200mg of vitamin C from orange juice and fruit and vegetables helps maintain the normal functioning of the immune system during and after intense physical exercise. 

“There is no need to splash out on a premium sports drink” says Nicola. "A 150ml glass of pure orange juice is not only hydrating but it also contains all your recommended daily amount of vitamin C, an antioxidant that plays a major role in the protection of cells from free radicals.”

Containing no added sugars, a 150ml glass of pure orange juice provides 4% of a woman’s daily calorie intake based on a 2,000 calorie diet (3.2% of calories for men, based on a 2,200 calorie diet). It is also a source of potassium, which helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue, and contributes to the maintenance of healthy blood pressure, and folate, a B vitamin vital for cell division.

Furthermore, an analysis of six years’ worth of existing National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) data released earlier this year revealed that people who drink pure fruit juice have a better health profile than those who do not, with the former having a lower waist circumference and a lower average BMI than the latter, making pure orange juice the perfect partner in your mission to get in shape this summer.