Your Antioxidant Questions Answered
By Dr. Myatt
Ever watched in frustration as something “rusted away?” Well, your body could be undergoing a very similar process due to the effects of free radicals. Antioxidants are “rust proofing” for your body, and are an important part of any longevity and health program.
Antioxidants can be confusing – especially for someone without a background in biochemistry! They are very important to our good health though – so please read on, and I’ll try to make it easier to understand…
Antioxidants are molecules which “quench” and render free radicals harmless. (Usually by donating an electron).
Free radicals are unstable molecules with an unpaired electron. As they “steal” electrons from other molecules, they damage normal cells.
What do free radicals do?
The damage caused by free radicals is called oxidation. Rust on metal is an example of oxidative damage caused by free radicals. This “rusting” or oxidative damage to human cells has been linked to many diseases including heart disease, atherosclerosis, arthritis, cancer, cataracts, macular degeneration, immune suppression, Alzheimer’s and aging in general.
Where do free radicals come from?
Free radicals are generated in the body during normal cellular processes. Additional free radicals are generated in the body by stress (physical or emotional), environmental toxins (in air, water, food), smoking, alcohol, anesthetics and radiation.
Where do antioxidants come from?
The major antioxidants are made by the body itself. These include superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, glutathione peroxidase. Certain vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other nutritional substances also perform as antioxidants. These are found in the foods we eat.
The body makes enough antioxidants to neutralize free radicals generated by normal metabolism. When additional free radicals are created by stress, poor nutrition, environmental toxins, smoking, etc., the body cannot “keep up” with the free radicals. These excess free radicals are then “free” to damage normal cells.
How do I protect myself from free radical damage?
1) Avoid or minimize exposure to things that create free radicals: smoking, environmental toxins, alcohol excess, stress.
2) Eat a nutritious diet so that the body can make it’s own “native” enzymes.
3) Take additional antioxidants by way of diet, nutritional supplements, and herbs to ensure protection from free radical damage.
Sources of Antioxidants:
Many herbs contain antioxidant substances. Fruits and vegetables are the primary dietary sources of antioxidants.
Super Foods are those rich in antioxidants:
Apricot, artichoke, blueberry, all other berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cherries, citrus, “greens” (beet, collard, kale, mustard, turnip, etc.), lemons, soybeans, tangerines, tomatoes. Since many vegetables and fruits no longer provide the amounts of important antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that they once did, we recommend supplementation with the delicious fruit and vegetable drinks Greens First and Greens First Berry drink mixes- these provide the equivalent of 10 servings of organic fruits and vegetables in each tasty drink.
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