Antioxidants: our protector against environmental stress and internal inflammation
By Dr. Sacha Elliott • April 19th, 2012 • 8540 Views
Antioxidants are a naturally occurring substance in food which act as potent free radical scavenger. Free radicals damage proteins, fats and DNA in the body and contribute to aging and degenerative disease.
Free radicals come from the environment in the form of sunlight, radiation, x-rays, pesticides, and solvents. Free radicals are also produced in our bodies during natural chemical reactions, such as the cellular production of energy.
There is no area of the body left unaffected by free radicals. These nasty scavengers can destroy the inner lining of the heart’s blood vessels contributing to atherosclerosis, as well as increasing the inflammatory process that underlies conditions such as arthritis and diabetes. Free radicals have been shown to play a role in asthma, cancer, cataracts, obesity and congestive heart failure.
This is where antioxidants come in: they prevent the damage associated with free radicals as they provide an extra electron to neutralize the free radical. One of the reasons why humans have a much longer lifespan than animals is because of our dietary intake and greater consumption of antioxidants.
You’ll recognize these as vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, bioflavonoids and coenzyme Q10.
Vitamin C is a popular antioxidant that we’ve all heard of. It plays a primarily protective role in the body, helping to protect from cancerous changes at a cellular level, regenerating vitamin E stores and enhancing white blood cells of our immune system. In a study of over 11,000 adults, 500 mg of vitamin C daily elongated the life span of men by five years and women by one to three years. When you are deficient in vitamin C, you’ll notice a susceptibility to lung infections, colds and flus, poor wound healing, and gum disease. The best sources are fruits such as berries and citrus, and vegetables - parsley, broccoli, bell peppers, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts. Keep in mind vitamins degrade with heat (minerals do not), so eating them raw or slightly steamed will provide you with the highest vitamin bang for your buck.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by 50 per cent. It protects the skin from ultraviolet light (sun damage), allows cells to communicate effectively which each other, and protects against prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, eye and liver disease. Nuts and seeds such as almonds and sunflower seeds are a great source.
Beta-carotene has a potent antioxidant effect and is converted into vitamin A in the...
Nutrition, Wellness, Diet, Antioxidants, health, beta-carotene, immune system, vitamin C, free radicals, vitamin E