Every day, you’re in contact with damaging chemicals in the air and in materials, in your environment, that you breathe and absorb. This can cause ‘oxidation’, a chemical reaction that produces ‘free radicals’, which are unstable molecules.
More about Free Radicals.
Free radicals are missing an electron and they steal one from an unsuspecting, stable molecule, thus, making that one unstable.
These free radicals can lead to chain reactions that may damage your cells. Eventually, this process could lead to health problems and diseases like, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, strokes, respiratory disease, immune deficiency, emphysema, Parkinson’s disease and cancer.
However, some free radicals are needed, such as hydrogen peroxide, for example, which helps to activate your white blood cells, to ward off certain types of harmful bacteria like, fungi, pathogens and even cancer cells.
They are also produced when your body turns food into energy and when you exercise.
So, What Do Antioxidants Actually Do?
An antioxidant has an extra electron, which it can donate to an unstable, free radical, without itself, becoming unstable. This can help to fight or slow down the above, mentioned oxidation process.
Your body has its own antioxidant defences.
Each antioxidant has unique chemical behaviours and biological properties.
Vitamins A, C & E and selenium, amongst others, are powerful antioxidants.
- Protect your heart.
- Reduce your risk of cancer.
- Defend you against dementia. Research has shown that people who consumed the most Vitamin C & E, cut their risk of dementia by, up to 50%!
- Protect your eyes.
- Balance your immune system.
- Balance your moods.
- Reduce inflammation.
Best Foods to Eat Are:
- Most fruit; especially, berries, oranges and bell peppers.
- Nuts and Seeds.
- Sunflower and other vegetable oils.
- Vegetables, in particular; green leafy vegetables, carrots, peas and tomatoes.
- Rice, corn and wheat.
- Dark chocolate.
Reduce or Avoid:
Processed foods, trans fats and artificial sweeteners.
Your body needs to maintain a balance between free radicals and antioxidants.
Before you rush off and buy your antioxidant supplements, remember, too many antioxidants can do more harm than good.
They could lead to a low number of white blood cells and affect your ability to fight off infections and even, increase the risk of cancer!
So, I’ve stopped taking my daily multivitamin.
It seems best to stick with eating 5 to 7 fruits and vegetables a day and only, take antioxidant supplements, if advised by your doctor.
If you want to reduce your risk of getting cancer, dementia, heart disease etc. then eat a variety of fruit and vegetables, for your antioxidants, every day. But, speak to your doctor before you consider buying antioxidant supplements. It’s important to remember that you need a balance of free radicals and antioxidants for your health.
Sources: botanicahealth.com, m.activebeat.com, hsph.harvard.edu, familydoctor.org, medicalnewstoday.com, healthline.com, abc.net.au