Antioxidants are one of many nutrients that are present in our food and play role in our general well being. As name suggests an antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules; in other words it can protect your cells against the effects of free radicals.
These Free radicals are high energy substances, highly reactive and capable of attacking the healthy cells of the body that can lead to damage, disease and severe disorders. Cell damage caused by free radicals appears to be a major contributor to aging and diseases like:
Cancer, heart disease, decline in brain function, decline in immune system etc. How are free radicals formed?
Normally during metabolism.
* Purposefully created by the body’s immune system’s cells to neutralize viruses and bacteria.
* By environmental factors such as pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke and herbicides
Normally, the body can handle free radicals, but if antioxidants are unavailable, or if the free- radical production becomes excessive, damage can occur. Of particular importance is that free radical damage accumulates with age.
How Antioxidants work?
Antioxidants terminate these chain reactions by being oxidized themselves, so antioxidants are often reducing agent such as thiols, ascorbic acid or polyphenols. Antioxidants are capable of stabilizing, or deactivating, free radicals before they attack cells.
Although antioxidants aren't proven to treat any conditions, research has shown that antioxidants have been implicated in the prevention of a number of degenerative, age-related diseases, including:
* Cognitive impairment
* Immune dysfunction
* Macular degeneration
Where You Can Find Them?
A number of the vitamins, minerals and compounds in food have antioxidant properties. Vitamins A, C and E are among the most well known, as are beta-carotene, lycopene and selenium.
We can incorporate good amount of these antioxidants by including certain foods in the diet like -
* Green leafy vegetables like kale, collards and spinach
* Berries, cherries and grapes
* Green tea
* Citrus fruits
* Apples and pears
So let’s understand Oxidation is a natural process that happens to everyone. Because it's natural, a diet rich in antioxidants is necessary to keep the levels of free radicals in your body low and maintain good health. The more free radicals build up in your body, the more oxidative stress you'll suffer.
As you age, your body's natural defenses against oxidation, free radicals and oxidative stress become less effective. That's why researchers believe that a high level of dietary antioxidants can prevent many age-related diseases.