It is very common to hear about foods that are good for your brain, your heart and your gut. But what about foods that protect the cells in your body? Those would be the ones packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants is thrown about like a buzzword to sound hip and smart when it comes to food, but i’d wager most people don’t know what they actually do for you. Well have no fear, in this article i’ll be going through and simplifying what antioxidants are, what they do and how they are beneficial for you.
Antioxidants occur naturally in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, coffee, tea, wine, and chocolate. There are thousands of antioxidant compounds out there, you’ve probably heard of flavanols (found in chocolate), resveratrol (found in wine), and lycopene (found in tomatoes). Other popular antioxidants include vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, E, and catechins .
Antioxidants help prevent or stop cell damage caused by oxidants. (Get it? Antioxidants) “Oxidants are free radicals that you find in the environment, but they're also produced naturally in your body,” says Diane McKay, Ph.D., an assistant professor and researcher at Tufts University’s Antioxidants Research Laboratory .
Every single one of us has both antioxidants and free radicals present inside of our bodies at all times. Some antioxidants are made from the body itself, while we must get others from our diets by eating high antioxidant foods that double as anti-inflammatory foods. Our bodies also produce free radicals as byproducts of cellular reactions. For example, the liver produces and uses free radicals to detoxify the body, while white blood cells send free radicals to destroy bacteria, viruses and damaged cells .
When certain types of oxygen molecules are allowed to travel freely in the body, they cause what’s known as oxidative damage, which is the formation of free radicals. When antioxidant levels in the body are lower than that of free radicals due to poor nutrition, toxin exposure or other factors. Oxidation wreaks havoc in the body. The effect? Accelerated aging, damaged or mutated cells, broken-down tissue, the activation of harmful genes within DNA, and an overloaded immune system .
There are a wide range of antioxidants found in nature, and because they are so varied, different antioxidants provide benefits to different parts of the body. For example, beta-carotene (and other carotenoids) is very beneficial to eye health; lycopene is beneficial for helping maintain prostate health; flavonoids are especially beneficial for heart health; and proanthocyanidins are beneficial for urinary tract health .
When skin is exposed to high levels of ultraviolet light, photo-oxidative damage is induced by the formation of different types of reactive species of oxygen, including singlet oxygen, superoxide radicals, and peroxide radicals. These forms of reactive oxygen damage cellular lipids, proteins, and DNA, and they are considered to be the primary contributors to erythema (sunburn), premature aging of the skin, photodermatoses, and skin cancers .
Astaxanthin, followed by beta-carotene combined with vitamin E has been shown to be one of the most powerful antioxidant combinations for helping protect the skin from reactive species of oxygen .
Increasing one's antioxidant intake is essential for optimum health, especially in today's polluted world. Because the body just can't keep up with antioxidant production, a good amount of these vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and enzymes must come from one's daily diet. Boosting your antioxidant intake can help provide added protection for the body against :
From a nutritional perspective, there are many different foods that can provide different antioxidants to varying different degrees and dosage levels. As a good broad guidance, here are a list of my favourite ones and the uses they have :
That is a very basic list, the amount of foods that have antioxidant properties goes into the hundreds. Your diet should consist of various different colours of foods and also contain a good mix of protein, fats and carbohydrates.
If you feel you could benefit from guidance on adequate antioxidant intake or require nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com