All you need to know about Antioxidants
Free radicals have been accused of wide variety of crimes – Heart diseases, Cancer, Arthritis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and many varieties of cell death. They have accomplices too – heavy metals, stress, toxins in the food and environment, stress, overeating and genetic tendencies.
What are free radicals?
Due to metabolic processes, stress, pollution our body splits a stable oxygen molecule O2 and create single bachelor oxygen radicals, which then steals other molecules anywhere they find in our body thus creating tissue damage. These tissue damage can further result in inflammation, cataracts, accelerate aging, suppressed immune function, heart disease or even cancer.
Free radicals are also a natural byproduct of our metabolism. Hence people leading a very good lifestyle also produce free radicals and will need some amount of protective nutrients to keep the free radicals in check.
Free radicals are always not bad. Their powerful ability is used by the cells of our immune system to destroy the invading viruses and bacteria.
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and stop them from damaging the healthy tissues of our body. These can be obtained from food or supplements. Almost all fruits, vegetables and herbs contain certain amount of polyphenols and bioflavanoids. These substances have powerful antioxidant abilities.
Antioxidants are found in Bell peppers or capsicums, turmeric, garlic, apple, red wine, unfermented green tea, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, fennel and fenugreek etc.
Preventing free radicals:
Though consuming enough anti oxidants will quench the free radicals and prevent damage to the living tissues, minimizing the production of free radical is even more important. In fact there are natural ways to limit their formation:
1. Exercise: this is and always will be my favourite. Cells give off fewer free radicals when body is regularly exercised and oxygen puts more stable oxygen in our tissues.
2. Stress management: Stress, anger, doing things frantically promote the formation of free radicals. Calm behaviour is much less stressful on the body.
3. Eat enough protein: Protein is made of amino acids from which we make some of our most important antioxidants. Recommended dosage is .8 gm – 1 gm of protein per kg of body weight. Indians consume much lesser protein and hence they should be more watchful of their intake.
4. Sleep: Hormone melatonin is released when we sleep and is a powerful scavenger of free radicals. Hence deep sleep is so restorative; it allows for tissue repair and removal of free radicals.
5. Drink enough water as water absorbs the heat from the singlet oxygen and reduces tissue damage from free radicals. It is recommended to drink at least 2-3 litres of water per day.
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