Antioxidant Benefits

Today there are lots of people talking about antioxidants and the role they play in promoting our health. But there are few easy to understand and accurate explanations of just what antioxidants are and how antioxidant benefit our bodies. Many processed foods claim to be full of antioxidants, but these are usually synthetic and have no health value.

Almost all natural foods have their own form of antioxidants so it stands to reason there are many different types available. Over the millions of years evolution has taken for our bodies to develop, it has used the compounds found in the readily available natural foods. One of the most important survival skills for all animals is their natural self-healing abilities; the ability of our bodies to antioxidants has made this possible.

There are a huge variety of beneficial compounds contained in all natural foods with antioxidants being possibly one of the most important for overall good health. Some foods contain many more antioxidants than others, but having a good variety of fresh food will allow you to get the benefits of antioxidants of the widest range and other vital nutrients.

It is interesting to note that the fruits and vegetables that have the brightest colours and the highest concentrations of natural sugars also contain the most antioxidants. Good examples of this are plums, oranges, pineapples, mangoes, pomegranates, tomatoes, grapes, beetroot, carrot, red cabbage and broccoli. Other foods that are high in antioxidants such as nuts, tea, coffee, chocolate, eggs and salmon are attractive because of their flavor or the aroma they give off.

A Balance Wholesome Diet

When we have a healthy, balanced diet our bodies use antioxidants to help neutralize the effects of toxins produced during natural, normal metabolic activities.

Antioxidants help to control, destroy or neutralize excess numbers of unstable or mutant cells in the body. They have become unstable through the effects of oxidation or natural conditions such as solar radiation, illness and infection.

Not all free radicals are bad or unhealthy; in fact, our body uses a variety of free radicals as part of its natural defense system. The immune system at times uses them as its soldiers to fight infection or mutant cells that could potentially form cancers or other problems. The issue is controlling and the balance to keep the body in harmony.

Many studies have found that using artificial or supplementary antioxidants have very little positive effect and can contribute to some medical condition. It is important to source your antioxidants from high quality foods

When our cells process food, they create waste substances called free radicals or “reactive oxygen species” (ROS). If you lack the required antioxidants to control ROS they can increase and become a problem when there are too many of them and these free and sometimes as a result of stress

With the additional hazards of stress, pollution, unnatural man-made chemicals and compounds in foods and the environment, noise and radio wave pollution our cells can produce more ROS for which there is little natural defense against. Fortunately, many of the antioxidants present in our food can provide a substantial level of protection if taken regularly.

Our bodies produce endogenous antioxidants; those we get from external sources are called exogenous antioxidants such as vitamin A, C, and E, minerals such as copper zinc and selenium. There are also phytochemicals in plants that are considered non-nutrient antioxidants such as the anthocyanins in cranberries and lycopene’s in tomatoes plus many others.

When our bodies metabolize oxygen it creates unstable molecules which are also a type of free radical. These ROS are missing electrons, so try and steal them from other otherwise healthy molecules which causes damage to cellular proteins, cells, lipids and DNA

Benefits of antioxidants include:

  • Combat Heart Disease

Polyphenol antioxidants found in tea and coffee help to prevent the oxidation of fat, this reduces internal inflammation and heart disease

  • Reducing Mood and Neurological Disorders

Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, as well as depression and anxiety disorders, have been strongly linked with a history of having free radicals that are out of control. By having an adequate intake of antioxidants symptoms have been shown to reduce in many cases

  • Boost Your Natural Body Defenses

When you exercise, your body produces free radicals because of the action of producing energy. Enzymes are also released to combat and keep these free radicals under control. By having a diet rich in antioxidants you give your body extra protection so your natural system does not get overridden

Having a good supply of antioxidants allows them to replace the missing electron on free radicals effectively neutralizing them

  • Reduce the Mental Effects of Aging

By helping to improve the ability of your brain cells connections and integrity, the vitamin C and E, powerful natural antioxidants found in high concentrations in dark coloured plums and berries can effectively help reduce memory loss and aging effects. There are also cases where they have helped reverse memory loss

  • Reduce the Outward Signs of Aging

When you have a sufficient supply of antioxidants your body is better able to reduce the effects of sun and radiation exposure. It also helps to minimize wrinkles by preserving the elasticity and texture of the skin

  • Improved Vision

A group of carotenoids, pigments used by plants to protect them from the sun, especially dark green, orange and yellow plants when ingested our bodies turn them into vitamin A. This vitamin regulates the light sensitive area of your eye, the retina. This protects you from sun damage and maintains your low light and colour vision

  • A Natural Preservative

When the natural level of antioxidants is increased in fruit and vegetables it can keep them remaining at their optimum ripened stage longer which helps to eliminate waste and reduce food costs

  • Prevent Rancidity

Many foods such as meat and butter have high levels of unsaturated fat that when exposed to the air will quickly oxidize and go rancid. This causes them to rapidly decompose, giving off an unpleasant smell and taste as well as reducing their nutritional value. The use of synthetic antioxidants has been shown to significantly reduce this effect by preventing oxidation

It is not advisable to over use synthetic antioxidants as they can cause complications, but it would not be easy to eat too many natural antioxidants with a healthy wholesome diet.

Many processed foods are very low in quality antioxidants so are fortified with synthetic types. Most synthetic types of antioxidants may be detrimental to your overall health, especially, if taken in large doses. They have been known to interact with other medications. In some cases, they are responsible for increased cardiovascular disease and birth defects.

It is always advisable where possible to get all your dietary needs from the food you eat and not rely on man made or synthetic substitutes except on the recommendation of your nutritionists or health care provider.

Having a wholesome, healthy diet rich in antioxidants, reducing your stress levels and getting plenty of exercise is the key to a long life and avoiding the chronic illnesses many people suffer from. Fresh Organic foods are naturally packed full of antioxidants so where possible, avoid processed or junk foods.

Stay Inspired