Advantages Of Food
They protect joints, boost immunity, provide energy and take care of your entire
system. Thatís a lot of work for tiny micro-nutrients, donít you think?
Hereís a quick guide that tells you all you ever wanted to know about anti-oxidants and didnít know whom to ask.
What are anti-oxidants?
To set the record straight, anti-oxidants were not invented by scientists in the interiors of a laboratory. They have been around: we simply knew them as plant chemicals or photochemical, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that we get from our foods. Some of these nutrients have been grouped together and given the name antioxidant. This new name comes from their molecules that restrict the oxidation of other molecules.
Oxidation? Whatís that?
This simply means that you are constantly losing small amounts of health to bad food, pollution and stress. While counteracting these damages, the body releases stress hormones, toxins and some Ďbadí molecules. These molecules have an unstable oxygen atom missing an electron. Such molecules are called free radicals. In an attempt to get that electron, free radicals complete their family by stealing electrons from other molecules. This, in turn, damages or oxidizes those molecules
too, turning them also into free radicals and starting off a chain reaction. This process is called oxidation. And this leads to cellular damage. Unchecked oxidation can damage health in the long run!
How do free radicals harm you?
Free radicals can harm your health at various levels. Most of the nerve fibers and the cell membranes in the brain also have fatty acids. When these acids become oxidized (lipid per oxidation), it can lead to the brain ageing and causing degenerative diseases. Free radicals on the skin can cause wrinkles and in extreme cases make it prone to cancer.
So how do anti-oxidants help?
Anti-oxidants do charitable work by monitoring these runaways. As the name implies, anti-oxidants stop oxidation by replacing the missing electron in the free radicals with one of their own. And the good news is that they do not become free radicals themselves, because they are stable in both forms. This makes the structure of the damaged molecule complete, stops the chain reaction and guards your health.
Where do I get my anti-oxidants from?
From your grocer, quite literally. Almost all the anti-oxidants you need are available with him in some form or the other. Vegetables, fruits, dry fruits, teaÖone trip and you have it all. The wine store may take you a little out of the way but donít go overboard. Experts advise responsible drinking.
What about supplements?
In some cases, for example when you have been on medication for an illness or you are overcoming an accident, or in case of food restrictions where your bodyís natural defenses are depleted, doctors recommend supplements.
How do they work? How much do I need every day?
By now, you must be convinced that anti-oxidants are tough guys with a golden heart. But even anti-oxidants lose out a little in the battle to keep you healthy. This
means that it will not be able to give the benefits it should. So we need to keep the supply to the body going. The body also makes some anti-oxidant enzymes like superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase. The rest are vitamins and mineral forms that need to be replenished.
The top stars of the nutrient-antioxidant army are:
Vitamin C Protects your body not only from colds but also from strokes and cardiovascular diseases by binding the lipoproteins, and protecting your blood vessels. It helps in the absorption of iron and Vitamin E. Latest findings confirm it pushes up the sperm count in men.
Vitamin E primarily works with fatty acids and prevents their oxidation at various levels of nerves and the heart. It will also get you compliments for a smooth and glowing skin. When combined with other nutrients, helps fight the damage caused to your skin by UV rays. Corn is rich in vitamin E
Carotenoids Part of the Vitamin A family, they work for the benefit of your eyes and skin and are especially known to restrict age-related eye diseases.
RDA 2400 IU (International Units) of beta-carotene, main component of carotenoids.
Selenium does a double take for us: it not only reduces cancers of the prostate, colon and lungs but also inhibits new viruses from entering the body and mutating into deadlier versions. It is required to maintain liver integrity.
RDA There is no definitive figures given as seleniumís main source is the soil, so RDAs vary from region to region. The best way is to get it from food, unless in case
of symptoms of deficiency, you need supplements. Deficiency symptoms may include acute illness and prolonged intravenous nutrition, muscle weakness and pain, inflammation of the muscles.
Polyphenols Raise a toast to this one. Polyphenols, one of the nutrients found in red wine, is supposed to do many more things than just make you feel blissful. They are known to reduce cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
RDA No specified limit, but no toxicity reports either due to excessive consumption. So, get your dose from food. Indulge!
Isothiocyanates known to be effective cancer fighters. In a study done in the University of Texas, it was found that eating isothiocyanate-rich foods reduced chances of bladder cancer by nearly 29%. It inhibits setting in of cancer by controlling an enzyme which oxidizes compounds in the body that can induce cancer and lead to mutation of cells.
RDA No definitive quantities stated.
How it works best
Anti-oxidants work best as a team. Have a mix of foods for greater benefits.
Anti-oxidants were originally used for industrial processes such as prevention of metal corrosion.
Coenzyme Q10 this is a vitamin-like substance found in the human body. But remember that we need to keep supplying more of these warriors because they become inactive after a showdown with free radicals.
RDA No gave dosage.
Get it naturally from foods because a high dose from supplements can have side effects.
Get this from fish and chicken breast. Vegetarians can go for spinach.