Antioxidants To The Rescue

Jun 26, 2018 | CATEGORY: Diet and Weightloss

Your body is a complex machine. Elaborate systems have evolved to allow you to make energy, grow, fight infections, and reproduce among many other things. And none of this would be possible without the help of antioxidants.

You see…your cells, tissues, and even DNA are constantly threatened by molecules known as free radicals. Because the toxins in our food, environment, water, beauty products, and household cleaners can cause them to form in your body. But also because free radicals are a natural byproduct of your metabolism and can even be created by stress.

The problem is free radicals are very unstable molecules. Without getting too technical, their instability is the result of a missing negatively charged particle known as an electron. Thus, they’re scavenging throughout your body trying to replace their missing electron. And they do this by stealing electrons from healthy molecules. When this occurs, the healthy molecules are said to be “oxidized” and become new free radicals.

Now, free radicals aren’t all bad. For instance, they’re a necessary component of your immune system to fight infections and heal from wounds and injuries. But these are designed to be temporary functions. However, it becomes dangerous when an excessive amount of free radicals build up in your body. Ultimately, the damage they cause leads to premature aging, inflammation, and disease. All of which can cause your skin to sag and your belly to get bigger.

But don’t despair! This is where antioxidants come in.

Essentially, antioxidants are molecules that donate electrons to free radicals before they are taken from you. However, when this happens, the antioxidant becomes a free radical. And it needs another antioxidant to donate one of its electrons before it causes harm.

In addition to donating electrons, some antioxidants can also repair cellular damage, prevent free radicals from being formed from certain toxins, and even prevent cancerous cells from growing. Yes, please!

SOURCES OF ANTIOXIDANTS

You probably already know that many antioxidants come from food. First, we have powerful plant nutrients known as polyphenols. And within the broad category of polyphenols, we have flavonoids and carotenoids.

The best sources of flavonoids that are especially effective when it comes to neutralizing free radicals include:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Onions
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Almonds
  • Peaches
  • Tomatoes

In terms of carotenoids, you’ll find them in large doses in:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Leafy greens (i.e., spinach, kale, collards, chard)
  • Winter squash
  • Bok choy
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Bell peppers
  • Cantelope

It’s important to understand that these polyphenols don’t work alone. They need help from other nutrients, especially vitamins C and E, which are also potent antioxidants themselves.

Some of the top vitamin C rich foods include:

  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Strawberries
  • Pineapple
  • Cantaloupe

And some of the top vitamin E packed foods include:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds
  • Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Bell peppers
  • Avocado
  • Olives

Two minerals that also act as powerful antioxidants include zinc and selenium.

You’ll find zinc in:

  • Oysters
  • Grass-fed beef and lamb
  • Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Mushrooms
  • Pumpkin seeds

And great sources of selenium include:

  • Wild shrimp
  • Wild sardines
  • Wild salmon
  • Mushrooms
  • Asparagus
  • Pasture-raised poultry
  • Brazil nuts

You might also be surprised to learn that your body actually makes several antioxidants. One of the most potent antioxidants your body makes is known as glutathione. It is resides in every cell and its main job is to protect your cells from harm. It is so powerful, that it also boosts the effects of other antioxidants.

But…in order for your body to make glutathione, guess what? It needs nutrients! Including certain flavonoids, vitamins C and E, and selenium.

WHAT ABOUT ANTIOXIDANT SUPPLEMENTS?

Because we know the vital role antioxidants play in our health and longevity, the antioxidant supplement business is booming. However, there is little scientific evidence demonstrating the benefits of taking large doses of isolated antioxidants.

And this is why eating a whole foods diet with lots of variety is so important. Because foods from nature contain an abundance of nutrients (in the right proportions) that work together. And your body needs all of them. All of the time. If not for fighting free radicals, for something else.

THE BOTTOM LINE…

Your body needs antioxidants. No question about it. And, it needs a constant stream of them to fight free radicals as well as support each other.

Get them from a variety whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, healthy pasture-raised meats, wild fish, nuts, and seeds.

And reduce your exposure to toxins that form free radicals inside your body. This means choosing organic whenever possible. Ditching processed junk food. Filtering your tap water. And taking a closer look at the ingredients in your beauty products as well as household cleaners.

 

Keep thinking big and living BOLD!

Jun 26, 2018 | CATEGORY: Diet and Weightloss