Antioxidants, oxidation and free radicals
Antioxidants are tiny molecules which help to inhibit the oxidation of other molecules. This is important, due to the fact that oxidation happens within the body at a consistent rate. What many don’t know is that oxidation and free radical production, when in check are necessary for certain biological processes. They can help kill harmful bacteria playing an important role in the immune process. They also have roles in certain cell signaling processes or redox signaling.
But when oxidation occurs at too rapid a rate for too long, free radical production becomes excessive and can cause chain reactions that damage cells and can even cause them to die. This can contribute to cancer formation, stroke, heart attack, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and so on. Free radicals can be overly produced from environmental factors such as daily stress, ozone depletion, air pollutants, smoking, ultra violet rays from the sun, chemicals, processed foods, drugs and so on. Without keeping this excessive production under check, free radicals can be damaging to the body and its healthy chemical reactions.
Antioxidants are actually oxidized molecules themselves, but act as a reducing agent by removing excessive free radicals and inhibiting other oxidation reactions. To help fight off excessive free radical production and cell damage, antioxidants are a must. The best and most abundant way to get these antioxidants is from food sources. Antioxidants are found within a variety of foods, but can also be taken as a supplement. Antioxidants have even been found in certain spices as well as nuts.
As our environment has changed, antioxidants have become not only a healthy but a necessary part of the human diet. They benefit our overall health and wellness, helping us to be free from increased sickness and disease.
Types of antioxidants
Some of the most common types of antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin E. Some other known antioxidants are glutathione, uric acid, melatonin, polyphenols, carotenes and Ubiquinol or coenzyme Q. The great thing about these antioxidants is that most of them can be found within some type of food source or made as a dietary supplement. These food sources generally offer other health benefits such as fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. They are also low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Antioxidants are plentiful in blueberries, goji berries, beans, cranberries, apples, strawberries, cherries, potatoes, avocadoes, plums, pineapples, and a whole slew of vegetables. Antioxidants can be found in certain beverages such as green tea, coffee, red wine and other fruit juices such as pomegranate juice. Nuts such as, pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts walnuts and pecans have great antioxidant content. Herbs such as cloves, cinnamon, ginger, oregano and turmeric contain antioxidants. Whole grains such as oats too, are higher in antioxidants than those from other sources. Eat, drink, or snack the excess free radicals away through antioxidant consumption.
Fact of the matter
Whether we like it or not, fact is, life in general can be somewhat taxing upon the human body. With all the different factors affecting the body and its chemical processes, if we don’t care for it by giving it healthy nutrition, keeping it strong through physical fitness, and giving it proper rest and recuperation, our body will start to give out prematurely. If we desire overall health and wellness, antioxidants can be a great starting point.