Why we need Antioxidants
Throughout our lives our bodies are exposed to almost constant varying amounts of damaging molecule known as free-radicals. Free-radicals are highly charged/ unstable molecules that can subsequently cause damage to surrounding molecules in their environment such as our bodies cells.
Antioxidants work by balancing out the free-radicals we’re exposed to, shielding them from the potential damage that they could cause during their short lives.
Common places where antioxidants are found include many fruits and vegetables (especially brightly colored fruit/veg), berries and oily fish.
Examples of where we can find antioxidants:
- Leafydark green vegetables (spinach/ kale )
- Berries such as cranberries & Blueberries
- Oats/ flaxseed
- Nuts & wholegrains
- Fruits such as strawberries, peaches, Apples
Other places where we can find hearty quantities of Antioxidants include:
- Dark chocolate
- Green tea
- Red wine
Free-radicals have and always will be a part of the workings of life. Yes, they may cause unwanted damage to organisms who are exposed to large amounts of these molecules but they are also used within organisms themselves in order to sustain life.
For instance, our own immune system uses the destructive nature of free-radicals to get rid of unwanted bacteria in our bodies. It is only when the delicate balance between antioxidants and free-radicals (also known as pro-oxidants) becomes lopsided that we start to experience the damage that free-radicals can cause.
Where do they come from?
Free- radicals are created when the interaction between two atoms doesn’t go quite as planned. When molecules are being created atoms join together in a very specific way, however during such metabolic processes the electrons that surround an atom can stray away from the atom causing the atom to become unstable, hence a free-radical is born.
Trying to avoid all exposure from free-radicals is simply an impossible task and exposing our bodies with low levels of these molecules won’t contribute towards poor health so don’t worry. It’s only when we are exposed to high levels of free-radicals that damage starts to takes place which will contribute towards potential health issues.
Here are the potential health risks when exposed to high levels of free-radicals over time:
- Degenerative diseases
- Cardiovascular diseases
How to minimalize the risks of high levels of free-radicals in the body
Avoid/ minimalize the following lifestyle factors:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Overtraining (excessive tissue damage)
- Environmental pollution/ radiation exposure(avoid too much sun exposure)
- High levels of zinc, iron, magnesium in the body
- Excessive blood sugar levels(avoid excessive consumption of sugary food/drink)
- Infections caused by bacteria, fungi or viruses (i.e. try to build a strong immune system)
In order to minimalize the potential health risks associated with excessive long-term exposure of free-radicals I strongly suggest that you aim to follow the preventative measures listed above as closely as possible and consume as many of the foods/ drinks that are rich in antioxidants within your daily life.
Try to eat a variety of different fruits and vegetables in order to maintain the balance our bodies need.
As suggested by health and wellbeing professionals we should aim towards consuming at least 5 fruit and vegetables on a daily basis in order to practice good health and minimalize the risk of disease in our later years.