There is a lot of talk today about the importance of antioxidants, free radicals, oxidative stress, air and water pollution and the impact it has on our health. Research shows that the human body can only take so much of this daily abuse before disease starts to show up. With the daily intake of antioxidants, however, we can protect our cells from damage and live a longer and healthier life.
Antioxidants are naturally occurring nutrients found in certain fruits and vegetables. People who eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day have been shown to have a lower risk of cancer. The sad truth is that only 9 percent of Americans and fewer in most other countries are eating 5 fruits and vegetables per day.
BENEFITS OF ANTIOXIDANTS;
- Stronger immune system, which builds resistance to flues, viruses and infections.
- Greatly reduces incidence of all cancers.
- Prevention of glaucoma and macular degeneration.
- Reduces risk of cholesterol-oxidation and heart disease.
- Anti-aging of cells and overall body resulting in better health.
- Protects cells from oxidative damage.
HOW ANTIOXIDANTS WORK
Although breathing oxygen is essential to life, oxygen can also be your worst enemy. It starts a process in your body called oxidation, which is the formation of free radicals. The oxidation of metal is a good example. Iron gets old and rusty. Copper turns an “aged” green. Something similar happens when your body is exposed to air, light and poor nutrition. Air pollution, heavy exercise, stress, exposure to chemicals, radiation, fatty foods and normal metabolic processes all promote the formation of free radicals. Free radical oxidation damage is the primary cause of aging. It is as harmful and destructive to your body and brain as corrosion is to your car. Just think of antioxidants as human “Rust-Oleum”.
Free radicals, atoms or molecules with one or more unpaired electrons cause cell damage. Being unstable, they steal an electron from another molecule to regain balance, in the process creating another free radical. This process is repeated until the energy of the free radical is spent or the reaction is stopped by an antioxidant.
There are many ways of determining if a compound has antioxidant activity, but the most common accepted test tube, or in vitro method is the ORAC method, or Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity.
SOURCES OF ANTIOXIDANTS
There are many sources of foods that are high in Antioxidants especially Fruits and Vegetables. The old saying still stands to be true “get your 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day” for a very good reason, they are packed with antioxidants.