The Simple Act of Breathing in Oxygen Results in the Formation of Highly Reactive Molecules called Free Radicals.
The Corrosive Effect of Oxygen
Unbeknownst to most people, oxygen is both a blessing and a curse. Humans need oxygen in order to live, yet the simple act of breathing in oxygen results in the formation of highly reactive molecules called free radicals.
Free radicals are highly unstable molecules that are naturally formed when you exercise and when your body converts food into energy. Your body can also be exposed to free radicals from a variety of lifestyle and environmental sources, such as pesticides/herbicides, unhealthy diet, excess carbs, excessive exercise, meds, excessive exposure to UV rays, pollution, and smoking.
When an overload of free radicals cannot be effectively destroyed, their accumulation in the body generates a phenomenon called Oxidative Stress. This leads to oxidative damage to proteins, molecules and genes within the body. Extensive research during last two decades has revealed the mechanism by which continued oxidative stress can lead to chronic inflammation, which in turn could mediate most chronic diseases including:
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Eye degeneration
- Premature aging
- Heart Disease
- Autoimmune disorders
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Cognitive decline
Antioxidants To The Rescue
The human body has several mechanisms to counteract oxidative stress by producing antioxidants, which are either naturally produced or externally supplied through foods and/or supplements. Antioxidants are the body’s barriers that contain free radicals at their sites of production within cells. They essentially stop the process of oxidization, preventing the formation of free radicals before they are ever created or neutralizing them once they have formed. They can even help to repair any cellular damage that was done by the free radicals. Examples of antioxidants include vitamins C and E, selenium, and carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and Astaxanthin.
A healthy body has a healthy balance of antioxidants and free radicals.
Free radicals occur naturally within the body, and for the most part, the body’s natural antioxidants can manage their detoxification. But, there are certain external factors that may lead to an unhealthy imbalance of antioxidants and free radicals in the body. These factors include:
- Eating an unhealthy diet
- Excessive exercise
- Certain medications and/or treatments
- Excessive exposure to UV rays
7 Foods That Are Loaded With Antioxidants
A 2008 review, published in the International Journal of Biomedical Science, found that the implication of oxidative stress in the causation of several chronic and degenerative diseases suggests that antioxidant therapy represents a promising avenue for treatment. However, many questions about the efficacy of antioxidant supplements in disease prevention remain unsolved.
Following are 7 foods that may enhance your body’s capacity to detoxify harmful free radicals:
- Wild-caught salmon: a rich source of astaxanthin which, research overwhelmingly suggests, trumps many antioxidants by leaps and bounds (6,000 times that of vitamin C, 800 times that of CoQ10, 550 times that of vitamin E, 200 times that of polyphenols).
- Dark chocolate: dark chocolates and cocoa pack a big antioxidant punch and are rich in flavanols and polyphenols. According to an article published in the Harvard Women’s Health Watch, “the flavonoids in cocoa – specifically catechin, epicatechin, and procyanidins – are thought to help the cardiovascular system by lowering cholesterol, reducing inflammation, and preventing blood clots.”
- Broccoli: out of all the cruciferous vegetables, broccoli is one of the best sources of antioxidants like carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin (one of the two primary carotenoids contained within the retina of the eye) and beta-carotene. The best way to have broccoli is to steam it. Remember that some antioxidants like Vitamin C are completely destroyed by heat while others like beta-carotene become more potent on cooking the vegetable.
- Tomatoes: packed with three types of antioxidants – Lycopene (that gives tomato its bright red color), Vitamin C and Vitamin A. The lycopene in tomatoes is best absorbed when they are cooked.
- Raisins: packed with anthocyanins that give you an energy boost. Interestingly, raisins contain at least three times the amount of antioxidants as grapes.
- Walnuts: low in sodium and loaded with antioxidants. They offer significant amounts of polyphenols.
- Brazil nuts: the densest food source of bioavailable selenium which improves the function of vitamins E and C! They are also rich in vitamin E.
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