Our body is constantly producing free radicals, supercharged chemicals formed when oxygen and nitric oxide react with our tissue to form unwanted charged molecules.

These free radicals cause a chain reaction with our cells and DNA and damage our tissues.

As this damage builds up, the body's tissue starts ageing, our hearts get weaker, our blood vessels start clogging up and our brains start degenerating.

But our bodies are smart. They constantly produce antioxidants to neutralise the free radicals and protect us by repairing the tissue and our DNA.

These antioxidants are intimately involved in the prevention of cellular damage which, eventually, is the pathway to cancer, ageing, arthritis and various other illnesses.

Strenuous exercise and long-standing emotional, mental and physical stress, can produce large amounts of free radicals in the body.

If the body cannot produce enough antioxidants, damage starts accruing and you can develop illnesses such as heart disease, muscle aches and pains, ME and diabetes.

Sometimes, the body's immune system's cells creates free radicals of its own to fight infection. However, environmental factors such as cigarette smoke, herbicides and pollution can weaken the killer cell system.

Junk foods, uncooked food or food which has not been digested properly can cause other toxins such as cholesterol and lactic acid in the body. Antioxidants are found in wholesome foods and herbs. Perhaps this is why the ancient Ayurvedic physicians said we are what we eat.

Fruits and vegetables are rich in the main antioxidants such as Vitamin E, Vitamin C, beta carotene and selenium. A word of warning: Mega doses of antioxidants such as Vitamin C and Vitamin A can be harmful in themselves.

Other natural materials such as bioflavanoids in herbs and fruits also offer protection and healing to the body tissues. The best advice is to eat five servings of fruit and vegetables daily and do regular, gentle exercise.

Ayurvedic medicine describes a concept of Rasayan - meaning "rejuvenator herbs" - a selection of herbs which have been taken by people in India and China for thousands of years in order to live a long, healthy life.

My favourite antioxidant and tissue-healing formula in Ayurvedic medicine is Chyavanprash.

It is made from Indian gooseberry and 44 herbs and spices in honey which boost the immune system and help heal damaged tissue to prevent ageing and illness.

It is delicious and revives one's energy instantly but is also a medicine given to patients suffering from chronic disease, stress, fatigue and cancer.

Other antioxidants are tinospora cordifolia (guduchi), which helps protect blood cells in cancer chemotherapy, trifala, which detoxifies the liver and blood, and tribulus terrestris, which helps eliminate toxins from the kidney.