Benefits of Antioxidants - To Prevent Chronic Disease And Support Anti-Aging
Benefits of Antioxidants - To Prevent Chronic Disease And Support Anti-Aging - External sources of free radicals that can be found every day, such as cigarette smoke, vehicle fumes, and food contaminated with pesticides. Free radicals risk damaging cells in the body and trigger serious diseases. Eating foods rich in antioxidants can reduce the risk of damage.
What are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are natural substances found mainly in vegetables, fruits, nuts and spices that help prevent or reduce the oxidation that occurs at the cellular level.
They do this by eliminating "free radicals," which, if left alone can oxidize cells - lead to inflammation and chronic diseases such as diabetes, joint disease, atherosclerosis, cancer, dementia, and degenerative eye disease. These dangerous chemicals also accelerate the aging process.
What are free radicals?
Free radicals are atoms or molecules with unpaired electrons in the outer shell of atoms. Chemically unstable, they are very reactive and can cause damage to cells in the body. Some researchers believe that aging occurs because cells accumulate damage caused by free radicals from time to time.
The main factors that cause excess free radicals in the body are eating the wrong foods, stress, pollutants, smoking, exposure to ultraviolet rays and harmful bacteria.
Certain prescription drug intake and chemotherapy are also related to the formation of free radicals in the body.
Foods high in free radicals include oil and fat (when heated to high temperatures such as in frying) cooked meat and processed meat.
Eating too many sweet foods that cause soaring blood sugar can also cause an increase in these harmful chemicals in the body.
How do antioxidants prevent chronic diseases and aging?
Antioxidants prevent aging by neutralizing and removing free radicals in the body that are responsible for damage to body tissues. By doing so, they help prevent or slow down the effects of chronic diseases and the aging process.
Are all Antioxidants the same?
Although the chemical role of antioxidants in the body is very similar, some antioxidants are known to provide additional benefits for certain body parts. For example, flavonoids protect the heart; beta carotene protects the eye; Lycopene is beneficial for prostate glands; and, proanthocyanidins contributes to the health of the urinary tract
It is also known that some antioxidants are stronger in their actions than others. For example, astaxanthin has a strength 500 times stronger than Vitamin E.
Source of Antioxidants
Food sources for antioxidants are as follows:
a) Vegetables - carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, kale, artichokes, sweet potatoes, beets, and coriander
b) Fruit - blueberries, grapes, cranberries, elderberries, blackberry apples, watermelons, wolfberries, and citrus fruits
c) Nuts and seeds - pecan nuts, walnuts, peanuts, kidney beans, and flaxseed
d) Drinks - red wine, green tea, cocoa
e) Seasonings - cloves, turmeric, cinnamon, oregano, basil, and ginger
The foods listed above are not complete but show the more popular ones which are rich in antioxidants.
Vitamins A, C, and E are well-known antioxidants while selenium, zinc, and copper elements are known to support the body's anti-oxidation system.
Other popular antioxidants for their health benefits include:
a) Curcumin - protection against cancer, Alzheimer's, heart disease and arthritis
b) CoQ10 - helps those with heart problems, Parkinson's disease, hypertension, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
c) Glutathione - helps the body produce enzymes, detoxification, fat digestion and destruction of cancer cells.
d) Lutein and Zeaxanthin - prevent cataracts and macular degeneration
e) Quercetin - supports the heart, fights chronic fatigue syndrome, and arthritis
f) Astaxanthin - reduces the chronic effects of diseases including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure
Are supplements needed?
Getting your antioxidants from natural sources is better because of the complex mixture of phytonutrients that you can get from fruits, vegetables, nuts and spices that you might not get from supplements. However, if getting this health provides nutrients from natural sources is a problem or if specific antioxidants are needed to manage certain health problems, supplements can still help a lot.
I hope this article gives you an idea of good antioxidants and their role in preventing healing of chronic diseases.