What is an antioxidant?
Antioxidants are natural substances found mainly in vegetables, fruits, nuts and spices to help prevent or reduce oxidation at the cellular level. They achieve this by removing "free radicals" that, if left alone, oxidize cells – leading to inflammation and chronic diseases such as diabetes, joint disease, atherosclerosis, cancer, dementia and degenerative eye disease. These harmful chemicals also accelerate the aging process.
What is free radicals?
A free radical is an atom or molecule that has unpaired electrons in the outer shell of the atom. Due to their chemical instability, they are highly reactive and can cause damage to cells in the body. Some researchers believe that aging occurs because cells accumulate free radicals over time.
The main factors that cause excess free radicals in the body are eating the wrong food, stress, pollutants, smoking, excessive exposure to UV rays and harmful bacteria.
The intake of certain prescription drugs and chemotherapy is also related to the formation of free radicals in the body.
Free radical-rich foods include oils and fats [like frying when heated to high temperatures] overcooked meat and processed meat.
Eating too much sugary foods that cause blood sugar to soar can also lead to an increase in this harmful chemical in the body.
How do antioxidants prevent chronic diseases and aging?
Antioxidants prevent aging by neutralizing and freeing free radicals that cause damage to body tissues. Doing so helps prevent or slow down the effects of chronic diseases and the aging process.
Are all the antioxidants the same?
Although the chemical effects of antioxidants in the body are very similar, some antioxidants are known to provide additional benefits to specific parts of the body. For example, flavonoids protect the heart; beta-carotene protects the eye; lycopene is good for the prostate; and proanthocyanidins help the urinary tract health
It is well known that some antioxidants are more powerful than other antioxidants. For example, food astaxanthin is considered to be 500 times stronger than vitamin E.
Source of antioxidants
The food sources of antioxidants are as follows:
a] vegetables – Carrot, tomato, broccolli, spinach, kale, antichoke, sweet potato, beetroot and coriander
b] fruit – Blue berries, grapes, cranberries, elderberry, blackberry apple, watermelon, alfalfa and citrus fruits
c] nuts and seeds – Pecan, walnut, peanut, peas and flaxseed
d] beverage – Red wine, green tea, cocoa
e] spices – Clove, turmeric, cinnamon, oregano, basil and ginger
The foods listed above are not exhaustive, but indicate that the more popular foods are rich in antioxidants.
Vitamins A, C and E are well known antioxidants, while trace elements selenium, zinc and copper are known to support the antioxidant system in the body.
Other antioxidants that benefit from health benefits include:
a] curcumin – Prevention of cancer, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease and arthritis
b] Coenzyme Q10 – Help people with heart disease, Parkinson's disease, high blood pressure and chronic fatigue syndrome.
C] Glutathione – Helps the body to produce enzymes, detoxify, digest fat and destroy cancer cells.
d] Lutein and zeaxanthin – Prevention of cataracts and macular degeneration
E] Quecetin – Support the heart against chronic fatigue syndrome and arthritis
F] Astaxanthin – Reduce the chronic effects of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure
Is it necessary to supplement?
It's better to get antioxidants from natural sources because of the complex mix of phytonutrients that you can get from fruits, vegetables, nuts and spices, and you may not get them from supplements. However, supplementation can still provide a lot of help if obtaining these healthy nutrients from natural sources is a problem, or if specific antioxidants are needed to manage certain health problems.
I hope this article provides a good overview of antioxidants and their role in preventing and curing chronic diseases.Click here!Citrine's Organic Anti-aging Beauty Secrets.