Ever wondered what all the fuss is about antioxidants? I did. I just didn’t get it; it sounded like they were good to have but I had no idea why. Well, after much reading let me help bring some enlightenment.
Basically our bodies produce something called free radicals as a natural part of being alive. When we do anything – breathe, exercise, eat – we produce free radicals. And we produce significantly more free radicals if we’re stressed, drink alcohol, exercise to extremes or are exposed to toxins like cigarette smoke and radiation… These free radicals then cause damage because they’re unstable particles – they rob electrons from healthy cells. Not so good. They can damage the DNA, the cell membrane – anything in their path. This is what causes aging as well as inflammation and disease.
And it’s where antioxidants come to the rescue. They have the amazing ability to neutralise these free radicals. It’s like they become a pair – a negative meets a positive, as it were. That’s why people often refer to antioxidants as ‘mopping up’ free radicals. Sometimes it takes more than one antioxidant to neutralise a free radical and different antioxidants work in different ways. They complement each other and have a synergistic effect.
So the greater the variety of antioxidants we can eat, the better. That’s why we aim for 50 fruits, vegetables and herbs week. And why we take certain supplements.
But I’ve done my research and take the following things into account:
- If we don’t chew properly then we won’t break the cell membranes of the lovely food we’re eating and our bodies won’t be able to extract all the amazing nutrients.
- We need to have enough stomach acid to aid digestion and stimulate the release of digestive enzymes.
- We try to eat a combination of both raw and cooked vegetables and fruits every day because in their raw state they will contain enzymes that cooking can destroy. Enzymes will then help to break down the food properly for maximum nutrient absorption.
- Eating a variety is really key – we don’t just stick to a handful of favourites. Remember, the wider the variety, the wider the range of antioxidants.
- The fresher, the better; we therefore shop twice a week so that vegetables aren’t in the fridge for too long before we eat them.
- We sometimes juice veggies if we need an extra nutrient boost
Want to understand more?
Read this article by Dr Josh Axe: Fighting Free Radicals & Free Radical Damage