Free radicals are natural by-products of ongoing biochemical reactions in the body, but their production is increased by our decisions: the food we eat, the drugs and medicines we take, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. Free radicals can cause damage to cells by stealing their electrons through a process called oxidation. When free radicals oxidize important components of the cell, those components lose their ability to function normally and may cause the cell to die. Numerous studies indicate that increased production of free radicals causes or accelerates nerve cell injury and leads to disease.
A free radical is a molecule with an unpaired electron. If a free radical is not neutralized, it leads to cell damage that can wreak havoc on the human body.
Aldehydes are known biomarkers of cell damage caused by free radicals. Changes in total aldehydes from exhaled breath reflect systemic changes in cell damage known as oxidative stress.