As a young girl I grew up in Australia and spent my days in the sun. We didn’t know back then about sunscreen or the long term effects of staying in the sun. I had no idea that I would find out later in life that being in the sun four a hours a day most days would have the effect of causing me oxidative stress. And we certainly didn’t know anything about the relationship between oxidative stress, free radicals and antioxidants.
There’s been a recent buzz in the media about antioxidants – and unlike many topics that are hot for the moment, antioxidants are a subject worth paying attention to. Antioxidants are your best defense against free radical damage. To really understand antioxidants, you’ll first need to understand oxidation and free radicals. I know it is a little science-y, but it is important. Let me give it to you in a nutshell.
What Are Free Radicals?
We know that our bodies are made up of cells, and within those cells are molecules. When a molecule splits it has an unpaired electron and it seeks to balance itself by ‘stealing’ part of another molecule. This, in turn, weakens another molecule and so on. Now you can see why the term ‘free radical’ is so appropriate! Oxidative stress is essentially an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization by antioxidants.
In our bodies, free radicals are not always bad. They contribute to our immune defense system by attacking bacteria and other foreign substances, playing a key role in breathing and they help jumpstart the inflammatory process that helps to repair injuries.
However, when there are too many free radicals our cells may become unable to function properly. They can chemically interact with cell components such as DNA, lipids and proteins. Over time, free radical damage can accumulate in the cells and limit the body’s ability to repair itself. It is important to note that free radical damage accumulates with age.
What Does This Mean For YOU?
Stressors like this can come from too much sun resulting in a sun burn, exposure to multiple chemicals in our environment (cleaning supplies, unfiltered air, cosmetics), processed foods, charbroiled foods, smoking or second hand smoke, and prolonged or excessive stress to name a few.
Oxidative stress has been linked to a number of diseases from Parkinson’s disease to cancer to heart disease. Recent studies have linked it to premature aging, which shows most visibly in wrinkles and loss of elasticity in our skin. A good example of this is an apple slice which has been exposed to the air – it turns brown, wrinkles, and shrivels.
Related article: Holistic Skin Care – Healthy Skin from the Inside Out
You Can Boost Your Antioxidant Supply
Our bodies create antioxidant chemicals which include glutathione, melatonin, enzymes, catalases and glutathione peroxidase, but these aren’t enough to neutralize all free radicals. However, we are able to boost our antioxidant supply with foods. Good news for us – since we all eat! Citrus fruits may contain important antioxidant compounds to help protect against disease. Green tea and red wine are also rich in flavonoids and soy is a source of rich antioxidants known as isoflavones.
Raspberries and strawberries contain ellagic acid, a phytochemical that may help protect against cancers. Blueberries are high in vitamin C, as are sweet potatoes which are also high in potassium. Other orange vegetables are nutrient-rich and packed with phytochemicals as well. Carrots are famously high in vitamin A, while butternut and acorn squash both contain vitamin A and C.
Broccoli, kale, spinach and collard greens are super vegetables! They are loaded with potassium, calcium and magnesium and have high amounts of vitamins C, E and A. The best way to insure you’re providing your body with everything it needs is to fill you plate with color – red peppers, green beans, yellow squash, purple cabbage, orange sweet potatoes. The more color on your plate, the healthier you will be.
In today’s world even a nutrient rich and vitamin dense diet may not give you all the antioxidants you need to maintain cellular energy and strength. Our Multi Essentials medical grade multi vitamin gives you the additional boost of nutrients you need to guard against free radical damage and reverse oxidative stress. Don’t wait. Order today to stop free radical damage! You’ll feel – and look better!