Antioxidants and Its Health Benefits
When your body undergoes the process of oxidation, it impairs cell membranes and other components, such as lipids, cellular proteins, and DNA. Once oxygen is metabolized, it produces unstable molecules known as ‘free radicals’ – these steal electrons created from other molecules – and it destroys DNA and other cells. Free radicals are not entirely harmful, since the body also needs some of them to perform efficiently. The problem starts when free radical overflows and when this continues, the result might be irreversible and could result to certain health conditions, and increased risks of developing liver disease, heart disease, and cancer – including stomach, oral, bowel, and esophageal cancer. There are several activities that contribute to fast oxidation in the body, like cigarette smoking, pollution, stress, sunlight, alcohol, bad food choices, processed foods and a lot more.
What Are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are components that provide health benefits that can combat or slow down cell damage caused by unstable molecules and free radicals produced by the body as defense mechanism to environmental and other factors. One can access antioxidants in a natural or artificial way. There are many plant-based foods, specifically fruits and vegetables, that are packed with antioxidants. Plant-based antioxidants are a form of plant-enriched nutrient or phytonutrient like those from green leafy vegetables and other healthy food. The human body can also naturally produce antioxidants and it is called endogenous antioxidants. On the other hand, antioxidants that are produced outside the body are termed as exogenous. The factors that improve the production of free radicals in the body can be considered internal, like inflammation, or external, such as UV exposure, pollution, and cigarette smoke. Furthermore, oxidative stress is also associated with many health diseases including stroke, heart disease, immune deficiency, emphysema, cancer, arthritis, respiratory diseases, Parkinson’s disease, and other ischemic or inflammatory conditions and chronic diseases. Antioxidants are said to assist in the process of stabilizing free radicals in the body. When free radicals are in normal level, it can boost one’s overall wellbeing.
Free Radicals and How Antioxidants can Curb Them
Antioxidants can be accessed in different foods and they can impede or block some of the damages delivered by free radicals by stabilizing them. Examples are vitamins E, C, and E, nutrient antioxidants, and minerals such as zinc, copper, selenium and vitamins. Other forms of dietary food supplements, like phytochemicals in plants, are said to possess incredible antioxidant property, much greater than minerals, vitamins and antioxidant supplements. They are termed as non-nutrient antioxidants and you can get them in phytochemicals of plants, like dark chocolate, cranberries that are packed with anthocyanins and tomatoes that are rich in lycopenes.
Free Radicals Effects on The Body
Overflowing free radicals are not good for the body since they can lead to irreversible diseases and health conditions. Here are some harmful effects of too much free radicals:
- Speed up ageing process
- Risks of heart disease
- Cancers, caused by damaged cell DNA, including increased risks of prostate cancer and skin cancer.
- Compromise the nerve cells in the brain, which results to conditions like Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease
- Degeneration of the eye lens, which results to blindness
- Higher risk of coronary heart disease, due to the fact that free radicals support low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol that attach to artery walls
The Antioxidants That Combat Diseases
Committing in a diet that’s packed in antioxidants may decrease the risk of acquiring various illnesses, such as cancers and heart diseases. Antioxidants fight off free radicals that damage the body cells and stop or downgrade the detriment caused by oxidation. The protective property of antioxidants are still being researched all over the world. It is necessary to have a clinical trial for every antioxidant to determine their efficacy and safe consumption. For example, men who consume high-amount of antioxidant lycopene – the one found in tomatoes – may have a lower risks of prostate cancer compared to those who don’t consume enough supply of antioxidants. In general, whole foods, including dark chocolate and green leafy vegetables, have plenty of antioxidant properties. Antioxidant research looks to provide the brightest hope for cancer prevention and cure, and the prevention of cardiovascular disease. In addition, Lutein, which is present in corn and spinach, has been associated with reduced risk of eye lens deterioration and linked to lower blindness among elders. Lastly, flavonoids, that involve the likes of tea catechins present in green tea are said to reduce the cases of heart disease in Japan.
Sources of Antioxidants
Plant foods are the best source of antioxidants. They are usually found in fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, nuts, poultry, meat, and fish. Healthy foods are easily accessible, which gives you zero excuse not to get your antioxidant fix. Below are the specific antioxidants that you should give to your body, as well as the foods where you can get them.
- Anthocyanins – grapes, eggplant, and berries
- Catechins – tea and red wine
- Cryptoxanthin – red capsicum, mangoes, and pumpkin
- Indoles – cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower
- Isoflavonoids – tofu, soybeans, milk, lentils, and peas
- lignans – whole grains, bran, sesame seeds, vegetables
- Lycopene – pink grapefruit, tomatoes, and watermelon
- Polyphenols – oregano and thyme
- Beta-carotene – mangoes, pumpkin, spinach, apricots, carrots, and parsley
- Allium Sulphur compounds – onions, leeks, and garlic
- Copper – seafood, milk, lean meat, and nuts
- Flavonoids – onion, tea, citrus fruits, green tea, red wine, and apples
- Lutein – green, leafy vegetables such as corn and spinach
- Selenium – seafood, whole grains, offal, and lean meat
- Vitamin A – milk, liver, carrots, sweet potatoes, and egg yolks
- Vitamin E –avocados, seeds, nuts, whole grains, and vegetable oils (like wheatgerm oil)
- Vitamin C – capsicum, blackcurrants, oranges, kiwifruit, broccoli, mangoes, spinach, and strawberries
- Zoochemicals – offal, red meat, and fish.
- Manganese – nuts, lean meat, seafood, and milk
- Zinc – seafood, milk, lean meat, and nuts
A healthy diet goes a long way when it comes to antioxidant intake. There is strong evidence that back up the claim that antioxidants are much more efficient if they are consumed in whole foods, instead of food or tablet form. This is because some antioxidant supplements that can increase your chance of acquiring cancer. For example, beta-carotene or vitamin A has been linked to lower cancer risks, but higher risk among others, including lung cancer for smokers, if vitamin A is filtered from foodstuffs.
Furthermore, a study testing the impact of vitamin E determined that it didn’t delivered similar benefits when consumed as a supplement. On top of that, antioxidant vitamins or minerals can turn into pro-oxidants or harmful ‘oxidants’ if they are taken in higher amount that is way above the suggested levels for dietary consumption.
This being said, it is best to follow a well-balanced diet, which gives you an adequate supply of antioxidants from whole foods. If you still want to take antioxidant supplements, choose one that has nutrients in regular amount.
Health of Benefits Antioxidants
Antioxidants have the ability to protect your body from cell damage caused by free radicals, in the process called oxidative stress. Here are the processes and activities that can result to oxidative stress:
- Too much exercise
- Reperfusion and ischemia damage
- Environmental pollution
- Mitochondrial activity
- Tissue trauma, caused by inflammation and injury
- Consumption of foods that are processed and refined, or that contains artificial sweeteners, trans fats, and certain additives and dyes
- Exposure to chemicals, like drugs and pesticide, including industrial solvents, chemotherapy, and ozone
These activities can lead to cell damage and result in:
- an increase in enzymes that facilitate free radicals
- a rupture of electron transport chains
- an abnormal release of copper ions or free iron
- an activation of phagocytes – a kind of white blood cell that prevents infection
All of these can all end up in oxidative stress. The detrimental health effects caused by antioxidants has strongly been associated to atherosclerosis, cancer, and blindness. It is said that free radicals facilitate changes in the cells that all lead to these conditions and other diseases. Studies have shown that antioxidants increases the risk of chronic diseases. To fight off the damages spread by free radicals, an antioxidant supply is needed. According to research, antioxidants serve as a synergist, hydrogen donor, peroxide decomposer, radical scavenger, electron donor, enzyme inhibitor, metal-chelating agents and singlet oxygen quencher. Other studies pointed out that antioxidant supplements may decrease the risk of eye disease or vision loss caused by age-related macular degeneration that is prevalent among elderly. However, there is still no strong evidence that a higher consumption of particular antioxidants can decrease the risk of acquiring certain diseases. In many cases, the results show zero benefit or promising effect.
Important Dietary Tips
Here are some tips for public health on how you can improve your antioxidant intake:
- Drink a cup of matcha or green tea daily.
- Incorporate fruits and vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables, in all of your meals.
- Utilize cumin, ginger, turmeric, clove, cinnamon, and oregano to increase the flavor and antioxidant content in your foods.
- Examine your plate, if you see foods that have beige or brown color, except dark chocolate, their antioxidant content are significantly low. Add some rich colors into your plate, by putting beets, kale, and berries.
- Munch on dried fruits, seeds, and nuts including sunflower seeds or Brazil nuts, but select one that doesn’t have any salt or sugar. Unsweetened dark chocolate is another alternative you can munch on.
Free radicals are associated with broad spectrum of diseases, including the likes of cancer, vision loss, and heart disease. However, this doesn’t primarily mean that you should increase your antioxidant intake in order to combat these diseases. Consuming antioxidants from artificial sources can increase your chance of getting these health conditions. This being said, it is essential to look for natural sources of antioxidants. The best way to do this is through a healthy and well-balanced diet.
Eating fruits and vegetables are proven to decrease the risk of acquiring chronic diseases, helps in cancer prevention and this is all thanks to the power of antioxidants.
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As a dietary supplement, take 1 tablet in the morning and 1 tablet in mid-afternoon with 250ml of water.
Burniva is not a medical product and should not replace a well balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. Not for use by individuals under 18 years of age. Do not use if pregnant or nursing. Consult a physician or licensed qualified health care professional before using this product if you have a family history of heart disease, thyroid disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression or other psychiatric conditions, glaucoma, difficulty in urinating, prostate enlargement and seizure disorder. Discontinue use or consult a doctor if adverse reactions occur.
Caution This product contains caffeine and should not be used by those willing to eliminate caffeine from their diet. Keep out of reach of children. Store in a cool, dry place away from moisture and direct sunlight.