To understand the concept of eating foods rich in antioxidants we must first learn about free radicals. We know that all the things in this universe including the cells in our body are made up of atoms containing neutrons and electrons. Those chemicals whose atoms contain electron needs to pair, single and ready to mingle, orbiting around the neutron is called free radical. These chemicals show certain reactions while in the presence of chemicals that can provide that extra electron needed and produce significant destruction of our cells hence also called reactive oxygen species.
Free radicals are produced naturally (physiologically) by the body or pathologically (unnatural) in the body.
Pathologic conditions are:
- Exposure to ionizing radiation produces the deadliest kind of free radical called hydroxyl ion(OH-)
- Conditions causing an excess of metals like iron and copper
- Inflammation: For e.g. when there is the infection and our body produces free radicals when it kills the bacteria or other microorganisms
- Different drugs and chemicals we ingest also produce free radicals
How does free radical harm our body and how is it related to cancer?
It destroys certain types of necessary fats in our body by a process called peroxidation which will hamper the bodily function dependent on them. Another important way is by destroying the DNA in our cells via oxidation. As the DNA gets damaged they may even lead to cancer.
How does our body fight off these free radicals?
Our body uses antioxidants like glutathione, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Along with that our body also uses an enzyme called glutathione peroxidase. Glutathione is one of the most important antioxidants available and used in the formulation because it stabilizes one of the most dangerous free radicals called hydroxyl ion (OH-). Glutathione is also necessary for the liver to metabolize various substances.
This provides a good insight into why we should eat antioxidants:
- To help the body during inflammation and stabilize free radical ions
- To decrease the rate of aging and look young. Yes, folks, it prevents the cells that die through free radical injuring and adds to life. To learn more about why we age, you can check out our article called why we age and cancer cells don’t.
- To prevent cancer. DNA damage caused by free radical and lead to carcinoma. The antioxidant helps to prevent that.
- It helps the liver to use Liver- Glutathione to metabolize different chemicals. This antioxidant is low in malnourished individuals or with substantial liver damage. In taking supplements of foods rich is Glutathione is beneficial for these patients.
- Antioxidants also help to prevent many diseases like autoimmune disorders, cataracts, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.
Foods rich in Glutathione:
Garlic, onion, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts are examples of cruciferous vegetables rich in Glutathione. Other vegetables are asparagus, potatoes, peppers, carrots, avocados, squash, spinach, and melons.
Foods rich in Vitamin A:
Cod liver oil, eggs, orange and yellow vegetables, and fruits are rich in Vitamin A. Other sources of beta-carotene are broccoli, spinach, and the darkest green, leafy vegetables. There are also foods fortified with Vitamin A available.
Foods rich in Vitamin C:
Food rich in Vitamin C is broccoli, cantaloupe, cauliflower, kale, kiwi, orange juice, papaya, red, green or yellow pepper, sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes.
Foods rich in Vitamin E:
Vegetable oils such as wheat germ, sunflower, safflower, corn, and soybean oils contain a high amount of Vitamin E. Other sources include nuts (such as almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts/filberts), seeds (such as sunflower seeds) and green leafy vegetables (such as spinach and broccoli). We can also use fortified foods to source the nutrient.
We must include these antioxidants in our diet and help to slow down the aging process, reduce inflammation, enhance recovery and prevent malady such as cancer.
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