You have heard of antioxidants and that they are necessary if you want to have a healthy body. However, why does your body need antioxidants and what exactly can they do for you?
Antioxidants are necessary to fight the effects of free radicals, which are produced as a by-product of natural chemical processes of the body, like the digestion of food. Free radicals are also created when the body is exposed to pollutants and toxic substances. Here are some reasons why you need antioxidants:
Antioxidants make you healthy
Free radicals are unstable molecules that contain an unpaired electron. To make up for their "inadequacy", they steal electrons from other cells, which become unstable themselves. This reaction impairs the immune system, accelerates the aging of the cells, causes cell mutations, and eventually results in diseases such as heart disease, cancer, joint problems, degeneration of the tissues and other chronic illnesses.
When an antioxidant meets a free radical, it relinquishes an electron to appease the free radical. Although this process turns the antioxidant into a free radical itself, it will be too weak to cause damage.
Antioxidants protects your immune system
Aside from preventing damage to the cells, antioxidants also shield the immune system from the interference of free radicals. This means that your body becomes stronger and better able to fight off microorganisms that cause infections, colds and flu. As a result, your body is better able to protect itself from the effects of free radicals.
Antioxidants help you stay young
Apples and potatoes that turn brown when peeled, fenders that turn rusty, and copper coins that turn green are all examples of oxidation in nature. The same thing happens to the cells in your body. Because of oxidation, your cells become aged and prone to deterioration. Antioxidants act as antidotes and counteract the damage caused by free radicals. This is why people who consume antioxidant-rich foods or take antioxidant supplements seem vibrant and younger-looking.
There are many types of antioxidants but only a handful work together, which make them more effective in fighting off free radicals. Examples of these antioxidants are glutathione, CoQ10, lipoic acid, and Vitamins C and E. The body naturally produces CoQ10, lipoic acid, and glutathione but the level of production decreases over time. On the other hand, Vitamins E and C can only be obtained through the consumption of foods rich in these substances.
Antioxidants are present in different food types. High levels of antioxidants are found in red beets, kale, peppers, spinach, parsley, Brussels sprouts, red cabbage, ginger, soybeans, pinto, broad beans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, corn, barley, oats, millet, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, orange, kiwi, pineapple, pomegranate, grapefruit, and berries. Red wine, green tea, grape seed extract, gingko biloba, and plants rich in phytochemicals are also great sources of antioxidants.
Having a diet of antioxidant-rich foods is definitely good for you but in order to ensure that you will enjoy a healthy, strong, and youthful body, you still need to exercise and keep a well-balanced diet.