The Benefits of Antioxidants for Overall Wellness
Image by Devon Breen from Pixabay
We’ve all heard the word “antioxidants,” but do we really know what it means? We know they’re supposed to be healthy for us, but how do they work? Where do they come from, and how do we know we’re getting enough of them?
In this article, we’ll answer those questions and define what antioxidants are and how they work in our bodies.
What is cell oxidation?
Oxidation is a toxic byproduct in the bloodstream that creates free radicals that can harm cell membranes and trigger cell death through necrosis or apoptosis. Rust and the brown color of a sliced apple are both examples of oxidation damaging their hosts.
When excess free radicals enter the body’s cells, oxidative stress is the result. Oxidants are byproducts of both the inflammatory response and regular aerobic metabolism. Free radicals, which are unstable molecules, are created by the body’s metabolic activities. Cells, proteins, and DNA become damaged by oxidative stress, which can speed up aging.
Not all free radicals harm the body. Some are necessary for biological processes, including cell division. Uncontrolled free radicals can badly damage cells in the body if there are too many of them. An excessive number of free radicals may exacerbate conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and heart disease.
Definition of antioxidants
Antioxidants attack and remove free radicals from the body’s cells and stop or lessen oxidation-related damage. Antioxidants play a crucial role in safeguarding our bodies by cleaning up free radicals.
Because they assist in scavenging free radicals, antioxidants can lower the chance of contracting many diseases. Additionally, they help free radicals communicate with your body’s cells and immune system. Antioxidants can defend against free radical attacks and even undo some of the damage.
The Importance of antioxidants for overall wellness
Antioxidant-rich diets may lower the risk of several diseases, including heart disease and certain cancers. Vitamin E, vitamin C, alpha and beta-carotene, selenium, iron, copper, and zinc are antioxidant elements found in foods that enhance various immune functions.
Antioxidants play a protective role in illnesses brought on by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. They also shield us from early aging, cancer, heart disease, and, in some cases, anxiety.
The health benefits of antioxidants are:
- Fight free radicals.
- Reduce oxidative damage.
- Influence mental health.
- Improve brain health.
- Enhance healthy aging.
- Healthy eyes.
Inflammation and antioxidants
Our body’s natural cellular functions generate waste, some of which can turn into free radicals. These highly reactive chemicals can harm our systems and create inflammation if they are not attacked and neutralized. Many illnesses, including cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer, are thought to manifest in older people with chronically high levels of inflammation.
Antioxidants aid in the relief of inflammation in all parts of the body. Inflammation is a major cause of auto-immune disorders that can lead to more chronic and life-threatening conditions.
Do antioxidants help the immune system?
Antioxidant supplementation has been shown in recent clinical trials to enhance several immune responses. Beta-carotene and vitamins C, E, and A supplements accelerated the activation of tumor immunity in older people.
Antioxidants are one aspect of a healthy diet crucial to a robust immune system. Nutrition, illness, and immunity all have an established relationship. Antioxidants are the first line of defense against free radicals that can harm bodily cells. Antioxidants shield tissues from deterioration, which stops unwelcomed inflammatory reactions.
Antioxidants help you fight off colds, the flu, and other illnesses by stabilizing or inactivating free radicals before they can damage your cells. Your liver also needs certain antioxidants to perform its detoxification and cleansing duties.
Evidence-based research on the impact of antioxidants on immune health
Numerous epidemiological studies have discovered strong correlations between diets high in antioxidant elements and decreased cancer rates. It is thought that antioxidants may, at least in part, be responsible for this by strengthening the body’s immune system.
There is evidence that antioxidant-rich foods can alter immune responses in people of all ages. The consumption of antioxidant-rich foods and the avoidance of fatty, processed, and fried foods are essential to preventing or delaying potential degenerative conditions.
Antioxidants and Cardiovascular Health
Ingesting nutrients that help lower the risk of coronary heart disease has received a lot of attention lately. A diet high in foods containing antioxidants, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Guidelines for preventing cardiovascular disease advise against supplementation and favor consuming foods high in antioxidants.
How antioxidants affect heart disease risk reduction
Lipoprotein components multiply on arterial walls and lead to the process of atherosclerosis. This chronic illness develops in stages, starting with fatty lesions made primarily of macrophage foam cells that have become lipid engorged. They eventually develop into complicated plaques with a core made of lipids. This plaque blocks blood from flowing through the arteries and may cause emergency situations.
Antioxidants and Cognitive Function
Clinical studies show that antioxidants support brain health. Once they are absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to the brain, antioxidants can protect brain cells from oxidative damage. Given that the adult brain essentially stops replacing dead or dying neurons, this is a significant find.
Vitamins A, C, and E are antioxidants that are linked to a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s. The memory-enhancing neurotransmitter acetylcholine is protected by lipoic acid, which reduces inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain. These adjustments can enhance cognitive performance, and different types of exercise can help improve brain health.
Green, leafy vegetables have been linked to increased brainpower. Leafy greens like kale, spinach, collards, and broccoli are abundant in vitamins K, folate, lutein, and beta-carotene, which are beneficial for the brain.
Skin Health and Antioxidants
A diet high in antioxidants can help guard against skin damage and delay aging to help keep your skin healthy. Many skincare products include antioxidants in their formulas. It’s still not understood how beneficial topical antioxidants are, but they may offer several advantages.
- UV protection: Sun damage is a significant contributor to skin aging. When taken in conjunction with sunscreen, antioxidants may help provide skin protection.
- Slow premature aging: Topical antioxidants help prevent cell damage and give skin a more youthful appearance.
- Reduce inflammation: Free radicals are inherently inflammatory. Antioxidants may have a calming impact on the skin by reducing inflammation.
Research on how antioxidants affect skin health and aging
According to The National Library of Medicine, “Most dermatologists agree that antioxidants help fight free radical damage and can help maintain healthy skin.”
Through metabolic activities, the cellular respiration of skin cells continuously creates reactive chemicals known as free radicals. Enzymatic and non-enzymatic processes rapidly neutralize these chemicals to create a chemical balance. When this equilibrium gets disrupted, many cellular structures, including the cell membrane and mitochondrial DNA, may experience structural changes that cause many skin diseases.
Foods high in antioxidants
Antioxidants are found in hundreds, if not thousands, of forms. The most well-known are vitamin C, selenium, manganese, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and other related carotenoids.
The top food sources of vital antioxidant nutrients are listed below. Aim for five to eight servings of these each day.
Antioxidant-rich foods: Broccoli, spinach, carrots, lettuce, potatoes, artichokes, asparagus, avocados, beets, radish, sweet potatoes, squash, cabbage, pumpkins, collard greens, and kale.
Vitamin A is found in: Milk, butter, eggs, fish oil, red bell peppers, and liver.
Vitamin C is found in: Citrus fruits and their juices, berries, blueberries, pineapple, dark green vegetables, red and yellow bell peppers, tomatoes, tomato juice, cantaloupe, mangoes, papaya, guava, and kiwis.
Vegetable oils rich in vitamin E are: Olive, soybean, corn, safflower oils, as well as nuts, nut butter, seeds, whole grains like wheat and wheat germ, brown rice, oats, soybeans, sweet potatoes, and legumes like beans, lentils, and split peas.
B vitamins are found in: Brewer’s yeast, oats, brown rice, wheat germ, chicken, eggs, dairy products, garlic, molasses, onions, salmon, seafood, tuna, whole grains, and most vegetables.
Beta Carotene comes from: A variety of orange, red, yellow, and green fruit and vegetables such as mangos, apricots, spinach, cantaloupes, sweet potatoes, and red and yellow bell peppers.
Recommendations for incorporating antioxidant-rich foods into a daily diet
The easiest way to be sure you’re getting enough antioxidants in your diet is to eat five to eight servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are often high in fiber, low in cholesterol and saturated fat, and excellent providers of vitamins and minerals.
Antioxidant-rich diets may lower the risk of several diseases, including heart disease, brain functions, and certain cancers.
Over the past two decades, there has been a significant shift in how we think about the connection between diet and coronary heart disease. This shift is largely attributed to the study of human subjects and food composition, and, most importantly, significant advancements in our understanding of disease and the aging process.
There is enough data to suggest that eating an antioxidant-rich diet is beneficial to your overall health, including your skin, brain functions, heart health, and overall positive effects on the body. But, like many things in life, it’s up to you to choose the food you eat. Now that you know these facts, the choice should be a little easier.
In Post Image: Public Domain