Antioxidants are a topic in nutrition which has been around for many years, as other nutritional trends change. Why? Because while antioxidants are often overhyped however, there is real substance that lies behind the media hype.
Antioxidants neutralize free-radicalsnatural substances in the body , but may cause DNA damage and cell damage.
“Antioxidants are basically compounds which protect cells from the effects of oxidation, or the harmful effects of free radicals and they’re all over us in all kinds of drinks and foods,” says Seattle-based registered dietitian nutritionist Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN who is the proprietor of Champagne Nutrition and author of “Anti-Inflammatory Diet Meal Prep” as well as “How to Eat Your Way to Beat The Disease Cookbook.”
Hultin says her body’s constantly in change and requires antioxidants in order to naturally halt the oxidation caused when you are simply breathing or metabolizing, and detoxing. “These processes cause free radical damage. The equilibrium is that we obtain antioxidants through the foods that we consume,” she says.
The body does a well at keeping free radicals under control through the production of antioxidants However, poor nutrition and exposure to smoke from cigarettes as well as radiation, pollution and other environmental toxins can create far more radicals that the body can take on. The resultant oxidation may accelerate the aging process as well as increase your risk for developing heart illness, Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
In contrast to what you might think, excess antioxidants can also be oxidants and oxidation can be beneficial according to Michelle Averill, Ph.D., RDN, an associate professor of health and occupational sciences at University of Washington. “It’s all part of a system, and we require antioxidants and oxidants in balance,” she says. “When your body’s oxidants are increased but it’s not always a negative but sometimes they are in response to something happening within our system , and they tell our body to take action.”
How do you find antioxidants?
There are times when we refer to phytochemicals and certain nutrients as antioxidants, however it’s more accurate to state that they possess antioxidant properties. For instance vitamin C plays a part in the creation of neurotransmitters, collagen and certain amino acids within the body. Additionally, it also serves as an essential antioxidant.
“Vitamins and minerals are loaded with antioxidants, including beta-carotene, as well as Vitamins C and E however there are hundreds of antioxidant compounds” Averill says. “For instance, you can find all kinds of polyphenols found that are found in coffee, tea chocolate, or berries. There are flavanols and proanthocyanidins and anthocyanins to name a few many more.”
Manganese and manganese are also minerals that contain antioxidant properties. That’s only the tip of an Iceberg. Averill claims there could be several hundred thousand compounds that have antioxidant properties.
Supplements or food?
Should you take antioxidants through supplements? The solution is no primarily because it is possible to get too many good things. There was plenty of hype regarding antioxidant supplements in the 1990s, but researchers found that huge doses increased the risk of certain health problems (like the increased risk of lung cancer for those who took beta-carotene or did not provide the promised benefits. It’s virtually impossible to find enough antioxidants in food, and there’s not enough evidence to suggest that antioxidant supplements work in the same way as eating foods that are rich in antioxidants.
“It’s no requirement that we consume X micronutrients to boost antioxidants in our body. It’s more about eating food items that aid in maintaining the balance of antioxidants in our human body.” Averill says. “You cannot overcome the imbalance of antioxidants or oxidants by taking supplements, however there are certain patterns in your diet that can help promote equilibrium and also create imbalance,” Averill says. “However it’s hard to conclude that it’s all food-related. If one is following a poor diet and is experiencing an imbalance, it may be environmental causes.”
Each antioxidant has a distinct function , and they are not interchangeable It is therefore essential to obtain a variety of antioxidants, fibre and other nutrients, through foods. Vegetables, fruits whole grains, lentils and beans along with seeds and nuts as well as spices and herbs, cocoa and coffee, as well as black and green tea are all rich in antioxidant compounds. What’s the common denominator? These are all plant foods.
“People will be amazed by the amount of antioxidants that they can acquire naturally through fooditems,” Hultin says. “Simply eating the more typical foods such as apples, carrots, parsley or onions, for example, could provide an array of powerful antioxidants.”
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