The ultimate guide to antioxidants and living a long life
Anyone who aims to live a healthy lifestyle will have heard of the term “antioxidant”. It’s meant to be something that is good for you, but how does it really help your body? And how can you get more of them?
The term “antioxidant” simply refers to any compound that prevents oxidization. Oxidization is a natural bodily function, and it is a by-product of cell processes. When cells process food for energy, the waste that is left over is referred to as a free radical. This is an oxygen atom with a missing electron, which causes it to be unstable. This instability causes it to take electrons from other molecules in order to stabilize itself, resulting in damage to that secondary molecule in the process.
Oxidation is a natural process that occurs in the body, it is a fact of life. This means that a little bit of cell damage is inevitable, but shouldn’t really have a great impact. The problem is when poor diet and lifestyle lead to an excessive amount of free radicals. When there are too many free radicals in the body and not enough antioxidants, the body goes into oxidative stress. This happens when free radicals cause harm to DNA, prematurely aging and breaking down cells before they are ready. This is what leads to degeneration, which can have massive health implications. Oxidative stress and excessive free radicals has been connected to a range of health conditions, including the development of some cancers, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and diabetes.
Although free radicals are caused by necessary cell processes, certain foods and environmental chemicals can also increase their population. Free radicals can be caused by a diet high in fried foods, as well as exposure to harmful pollutants such as smoke, toxic fumes, and some UV exposure.
Antioxidants are compounds that help to fight free radicals and the harmful effect that they can have on the body. They contain extra electrons, which can be donated to a free radical, stabilizing it. Just like free radicals, the body does naturally produce some antioxidants, with their own specific purposes. But when there is an excessive amount of free radicals, extra antioxidants must be sourced from food, in an attempt to maintain a good internal balance.
There are certain foods that are known to be high in different antioxidants, each playing their own part in maintaining your health. Incorporating these into your daily diet can have positive benefits for your health:
- Dark chocolate
- Spinach and kale
- Red cabbage
Living a long and healthy life has a lot to do with maintaining an active lifestyle and an appropriate diet. Eating foods that are high in antioxidants or taking supplements can help to reduce the number of free radicals in your body, and also reduce the rate of oxidization that can harm cells. By reducing your consumption of foods that are high in free radicals and increasing your consumption of antioxidants, you are providing your body with the right nutrients to maintain itself for longer, giving you the best chance at a long, healthy life.
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