Never has a nutrient been more misunderstood than Antioxidants. They are in fact not just a natural substance from nutrient rich foods but they are also created by our wonderful bodies!
Within each of us, there is a constant free radical and antioxidant fight taking place. ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) is a high-energy molecule that allows for every cell to create its own supply of energy. ATP in fact metabolises glucose from the different foods we eat during a process called ‘cellular respiration‘.
It is during this chemical process that certain compounds, free radicals, are established. Free radicals can cause damage to the cells genetic material which can lead to the cell not functioning and dividing properly. Hence the main link between free radicals and cancers. Free radicals are also created due to the toxic compounds that surround our everyday lives from smoking, alcohol, pollutants to name a few. The problem with these free radicals, is they are more aggressive than those that are created naturally within our bodies.
Antioxidants, protect the body from free radicals. They work by almost ‘donating’ their electron to the damaging free radical in order to prevent it from causing any further cell damage. However, the issue being when the antioxidants donate their electron, they essentially become a free radical themselves. Foods rich in antioxidants have the ability to remove the newly formed free radical-antioxidant and therefore are incredibly important to our cells health.
There are two main groups to antioxidants; those that are water-soluble and those that are fat-soluble. Water-soluble antioxidants, such as vitamin C, are easily absorbed through our intestinal walls and excreted through our kidneys. Fat-soluble antioxidants , such as beta-carotene, look for an environment that is more ‘fat-rich’, migrating into the fatty tissues which are then broken down.
You may have noticed numerous skincare products and supplements state they have ‘added antioxidants’. However, which ones do they refer to? Fat-soluble antioxidants are the most beneficial when added to skincare due to their ability to travel to the subcutaneous layer of the skin, the area in which structural support is provided for our skin. Free radicals can subsequently attack this area of the skin causing wrinkles and sagging skin. Therefore, the protection from fat-soluble antioxidants is needed from foods that are rich in them.
ANTIOXIDANT FOOD SOURCES
- Raw fresh, organic vegetables: a smoothie, the healthiest antioxidant drink you can consume, is a great way to get all the nutrients you need from the vegetables
- Sprouts: alfalfa, sunflower, pea sprouts are a powerful source of antioxidants and minerals and vitamins
- Berries: blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries are the best antioxidant fruit you can consume
- Nuts: walnuts, brazil nuts and hazelnuts are excellent antioxidant sources, however, make sure these are soaked first for the best digestion
- Fresh herbs & spices: turmeric, clove, ginger, garlic and cinnamon contain a high antioxidant level
- Match & Green Tea: contains the phytoestrogen ‘catechin’, an incredibly powerful antioxidant. However, remember to look for those brands that have not bleached their tea bags and come from a organic source.