Antioxidants, food and lifestyle
Human body utilizes oxygen to metabolize and use all nutrients in order to produce energy for survival. Actually oxygen is a vital for living. In the body oxygen initiates chemical reactions that metabolize fats, proteins and carbohydrates to produce energy. At the same time, oxygen can be highly reactive and capable to become a part of so called “free radicals” (damaging molecules which attack healthy cells). Free radicals are responsible for aging processes and several dangerous diseases such as cancer, heart disease, brain damages and failure of immune system. According to health experts, free radicals are involved in pathogenesis of at least 50 diseases. Naturally free radicals are controlled by different types of antioxidants. Antioxidants are able to stabilize and deactivate free radicals before they attack cells. The deficiency of antioxidants could trigger several dangerous diseases due to activated free radicals which can become cumulative and debilitating.
Antioxidants protect human body from damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidant may prevent or delay some types of cell damage. Best known antioxidants are beta-carotene, resveratrol, lutein, lycopene, flavanols, catechins, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E. Naturally antioxidants could be found in many foods including fresh fruits and vegetables.
Many plant-derived antioxidant properties known as “phytonutrients” or “phytochemicals” or “flavonoids” can also fight free radicals and prevent damages of cells. They are found in several fruits, vegetables and green tea extracts.
Human body also has several antioxidant mechanisms that can protect from free radicals – it is antioxidant enzymes (glutathione peroxidase, catalase, superoxide dismutase) but they require micronutrient cofactors (selenium, iron, copper, zinc, manganese) for their activity. It was noted that inadequate dietary intake of mentioned minerals may lead to low antioxidant activity.
Antioxidant food sources
It is absolutely necessary to eat foods which can protect cells from possible damages – it should be foods full of antioxidants which can fight free radicals and prevent cells’ damages caused by oxidants.
Antioxidants found in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, coffee, tea, wine and chocolate. Here is the list of best products full of antioxidants:
- Berries (blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries);
- Black or red grapes,
- Green leafy vegetables (broccoli, kale, spinach, collard greens, turnip greens, swiss chard, mustard greens, red and green leaf and romaine lettuce);
Antioxidants, food and lifestyle
- Cabbage (better red cabbage) and artichokes,
- Carrots, pumpkins, winter squash and sweet potatoes;
- Sprouts (Brussels sprouts, chickpea, lentils, green peas);
- Melon and cantaloupes;
- Citrus fruits (orange, mandarin, Clementine, grapefruit);
- Green tea,
- Nuts (pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts).
It was noted that different foods have different types of antioxidants. For example, chocolate is full of flavanols, grapes and red wine are rich in resveratrol and tomatoes are full of lycopene.
According to health experts, different types of antioxidants are useful for different health conditions. For example, vitamin C is the most important water-soluble antioxidant in extracellular fluids which can neutralize free radicals before it can attack lipids. Vitamin E is the most important lipid soluble antioxidant which can protect the membrane fatty acids from lipid peroxidation.
Antioxidants and lifestyle
Antioxidant-rich foods alone cannot protect you from several diseases. According to health experts, best results can be achieved if antioxidant-rich diet is combined with healthy lifestyle. Unhealthy lifestyle habits can promote free radical formation and put you at risk of inflammation and paving the way for disease and illness.
Following lifestyle changes combined with antioxidant-rich diet can protect you from several dangerous diseases:
Avoid sugar and grains
Sugar (fructose) could lead to increased formation of free radicals which can cause liver inflammation.
Increase your physical activities
Physical exercises (moderate and properly organized) can boost antioxidant production in the body
Avoid and manages stressful situations
Acute or chronic stress could trigger several health abnormalities. Stress can aggravate inflammation and weaken immune system due to free radical formation. Stress management is very important.
It is well known that smoking forms free radicals which accelerate aging processes. Even passive smoking could damage your health.
Practice healthy good sleep
Healthy, high quality, good sleep is one of important cornerstones of good health. Most important is your sleep duration, sleep hygiene and sleep position.
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