(image via: denverpost.com)
We’ve all heard of free radical damage and the power of antioxidants, right?
Well, if not, here is the perfect time to learn a little bit about how antioxidants affect your health, your beauty, longevity, and more. If so, well, you can refresh yourself on the subject.
Free radicals (the antagonist) are the by-product of our bodies turning oxygen into energy. Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) are the toxic-free radicals that are responsible for cellular damage. Their highly-reactive nature is what makes them so dangerous and potentially responsible for chronic disease and also thought to be the driving force of human aging. We all have free radicals in our bodies and are exposed to them daily in the form of heated fats and oils, or as a result of atmospheric radiation, and environmental pollutants.
An antioxidant (protagonist) on the other hand, plays the role of the free-radical destroyer/scavenger; it helps reverse or prevent the oxidation (damage). This is why consumption of anti-oxidants is a powerful preventative measure against disease, chronic illness and degeneration. Most people are deficient in antioxidants because there are so many factors that contribute to their depletion including smoking, over-the-counter or perscription drugs, high quantities of caffeine, long-term emotional or physical STRESS (more on that later), smog, and other lifestyle/environmental factors.
Just what is an antioxidant?
It can be confusing because we talk about certain foods, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, hormones, herbs, and chemicals, calling them antioxidants.
My favorite answer to this ongoing question comes from Dr James Balch’s book The Super Antioxidants: “an antioxidant is any substance that can help us fight the rust-rot syndrome caused by free-radical damage.”
So often these vital nutrients (antioxidants) get overlooked because we are too focused on the macronutrients — carbohydrates, fat and protein. Our bodies need more than JUST a balance of protein, fat and carbs but so little attention is given to the importance of these other nutrients when it comes to disease prevention, weight loss and life span.
I truly believe you can add a significant amount of years to your life by changing the way you eat and other lifestyle habits. Eating a variety of fresh raw foods will give you a balance of micro and phyto nutrients your body needs, plus they are energizing — live foods feed life — and hydrating (contain high water content). Nutrients/antioxidants are the catalyst to every chemical reaction on a cellular level in the body and it’s those chemical reactions that are responsible for every bodily function; they keep our brains thinking, muscles contracting, eyelids blinking, toes curling, mouths moving, lips puckering, tastebuds alive, fingers typing (my most personal favorite), etc.
For this reason, I always encourage people to look at the source from which they derive protein, fat and carbs. Yogurt (or cheese) for example, has an abundance of protein and fat and a few carbs (depending on the flavor), however, raw almonds have a similar ratio of macronutrients, but they also contain FIBER, EFAs, and enzymes, as well as antioxdants (such as manganese, vitamin E, magnesium, copper, vitamin B2, phosphorus and potassium). Not to mention, almonds are notorious for their cholesterol-lowering effects while dairy often contains cholesterol. (Note: Raw organic milk, cheese and yogurt are better options compared to their heated, pasteurized counterparts.)
In Layman’s Terms: if you still prefer the steak (ROS), make sure you accompany it with some raw fresh vegetables (antioxidants)!
SOME IMPORTANT ANTIOXIDANTS:
Carotenoids (Lutein, Beta Carotene, etc.)
Vit A, K, B, C, E
If you have any questions, please feel free to post a comment and I will get back to you.
Thanks — Juli Novotny