Being healthy and including or maintaining enough antioxidants in your system can be difficult with people’s lifestyle choices. Many people consume a highly-processed diet, sometimes adding a little natural fruit because it’s healthy, then head to the gym to keep the figure trim. They wonder why this so often does not work.

So how hard is it to break the cycle of antioxidant depletion? The answer is for some relatively easy, but for many, it would require a whole lifestyle change, one they can’t afford to make, for their health’s sake.

Free radicals are formed inside the body as well as being consumed with food, environmental factors including cigarette and cooking smoke, air pollution as well as ultraviolet light and radio waves also increase people’s exposure. Not all types of free radicals are bad, in fact, we each need a good selection of them. The immune system uses them to defeat viruses and attack difficult types of mutant cells that otherwise could become cancerous. The problems come when there are just too many of them and they swamp the body and affect the cell’s DNA.

Antioxidants have properties that keep free radicals in check and benefit the immune system so it’s important to maintain a satisfactory level of them in your system. Here are some ways to do this:

Eat Antioxidant Rich Foods

The best selection of antioxidants are found in brightly coloured dark fruit and vegetables, some of the most accessible and affordable are grapes, figs, guava, berries, plums and other stone fruit, citrus fruit, watermelon, apples, purple cabbage, sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, capsicum, seaweeds, coffee, tea, homemade fresh fruit and vegetable juices.

Sea vegetables or seaweeds provide a whole unique form of antioxidants which is one of the reasons in places like Japan, where it is commonly eaten regularly; many people live to be over one hundred years old.

Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants that is readily available and affordable for most people, it can be found in citrus fruits, papayas, kiwifruit, strawberries, green leafy vegetables, pumpkin, carrots and bell peppers to name a few.

Take High Quality Antioxidant Supplements

One of the very powerful antioxidants that is similar to a vitamin, molecule CoQ10 is found in almost every living cell. Unfortunately, it tends to diminish as a person starts to age and if you live with a great amount of stress in life or take certain types of medication such as statin drugs these can hasten the loss of this important antioxidant.

The best and most efficient way to restore your CoQ10 levels and stop any free radical damage is by taking a quality supplement. These should always be taken with the advice of your qualified health professional and in conjunction with a healthy diet.

The way you prepare and cook your food

The way in which food is prepared can make a huge difference to its antioxidant levels.

Many fruits and vegetables should be eaten raw, in salads or smoothies

Lightly cooking food is now recognised as one of the best ways to ensure your food retains most of its essential nutrients. Methods such as to stir-fry or steaming your meals are quick and easy and this allows them to retain many of their antioxidants.

The main exception is tomatoes, which contain lycopene the compound that provides tomatoes rich red colour. When you cook tomatoes you boost their lycopene levels, after just 2 minutes the levels can rise by 6% and after 15 minutes of cooking the lycopene levels can increase by as much as 18%. This powerful antioxidant can reduce the average risk of heart attack and cancers if consumed regularly. It is even suggested that consuming 25mg of lycopene each day can drop your bad cholesterol levels by about 10 %.

Microwaving is no longer considered safe and should never be used for any foods as it changes the food structure and destroys 90% of the nutrients

Having an active lifestyle or making use of regular exercise routines keeps the body supple, the mind active and allows your system to work properly with a good balance of antioxidants and free radicals.