On Tuesday, we detailed the battle your body fights every day... all without you knowing.
We're talking about the battle against free radicals. (If you missed it, catch up right here.)
Today, we'll tell you all about how to use the best weapon to fight against damaging free radicals – antioxidants.
Antioxidants are molecules that fight and clear out free radicals in the body. They prevent free radicals from using their electrons to cause damage. Here's how it works...
Antioxidants can give an electron to a free radical without becoming destabilized themselves, thus halting the free radical chain reaction.
Just as fiber absorbs water and waste products in the intestines, antioxidants clean up the free radical waste in cells and blood. Your body makes and contains some of its own antioxidants, but many of them are obtained from plant foods like fruits and vegetables.
Your body uses five important antioxidants:
1. Glutathione – Considered the "master antioxidant," glutathione is helpful for maximizing the benefit of other antioxidants. It is found in whey protein (which is found in cheese), non-pasteurized milk, raw fruits, and raw vegetables.
2. Vitamin E – A fat-soluble antioxidant, vitamin E is an essential dietary nutrient. It boosts the immune system and helps relax the body's blood vessels. It can be found in sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, and broccoli.
3. Vitamin C – Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant that helps your body form blood vessels, cartilage, muscles, and collagen in your bones. It's critical in wound healing and is also important for healthy vision. The highest concentration in the body is in fluid in the front part of the eye, just beneath the clear cornea. Vitamin C can be found in oranges, strawberries, broccoli, and bell peppers.
4. Beta Carotene – In the body, beta carotene converts into vitamin A, which is essential for our vision, eye health, skin, immune system, and mucous membranes. Beta carotene is found in carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and cantaloupe.
5. Flavonoids – Flavonoids help the body manage diseases (like cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease) due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They also provide it nutrients. Flavonoids can be found in foods like grapes, berries, citrus fruits, celery, red peppers, peppermint, tea, onions, and tomatoes.
Getting these antioxidants from a diet filled with fruits and vegetables will help keep you protected from a litany of diseases that can occur as the result of oxidative stress...
Recall that oxidative stress occurs when free radicals overload your body and outnumber the antioxidants. Long-term oxidative stress damages the body's cells, proteins, and DNA.
Maintaining a healthy body weight is one way to reduce oxidative stress. A 2015 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences found that inflammation caused by excess body fat triggers the release of both pro- and anti-inflammatory compounds, and with it the production of free radicals.
Other lifestyle measures that can reduce oxidative stress in the body include:
- Avoiding highly processed foods
- Regular exercise
- Stress reduction
- Reduced exposure to chemicals and pollutants
- Quitting cigarettes
- Eating fruits and vegetables
Keep yourself in oxidative balance by eating fresh fruits and vegetables, avoiding fried and processed foods, and exercising every day (even if it's just a 20-minute stroll around and around one block). Meditate, keep calm, and breathe in clean air. These are the ways to keep extra free radicals at bay and avoid harmful oxidative stress in your body.
Do what I do and eat a rainbow of produce each day. I also walk at least 20 to 30 minutes a day and love to ride my bike. On top of that, I have a meditation practice which helps to keep me healthy, wealthy, and wise...
What We're Interneting...
- What are antioxidants and free radicals (video)?
- Something different: Are there any black holes left over from the big bang?
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
September 9, 2021