Antioxidants and Free Radicals
All humans have both antioxidants and free radicals inside of our bodies at all times. Some antioxidants are made from the body itself, others we obtain from our diets. Our bodies produce free radicals as byproducts of cellular reactions. When antioxidant levels in the body are lower than that of free radicals — due to poor nutrition choices, toxin exposure among other factors — oxidation wreaks havoc in the body resulting in:-
- Accelerated ageing
- Damaged & mutated cells
- Broken-down tissue
- The activation of harmful genes within DNA
- An overloaded immune system.
Plant based foods are rich sources of antioxidants, they are most abundant in fruits and vegetables, as well as other foods including nuts, wholegrains and some meats, poultry and fish. Good sources of specific antioxidants are split into 18 categories and illustrated below:
- Allium sulphur compounds – Health Benefits: Cardiovascular protection, anti-cancer activity, lowering blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, lowering blood pressure, and providing anti-clotting benefits.
- Anthocyanins – Health Benefits: Protect Against Diabetes, defend Against Cancer, support neurological health, fend off colds & flu.
- Beta-carotene – Health Benefits: Lowering the risk of developing cancer and heart disease, may slow down cognitive decline and keeps lungs healthy as people age.
- Catechins – Health Benefits: Reduces the risk of heart disease and possibly even helps prevent cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
- Copper – Health Benefits: Antioxidant defense, neuropeptide synthesis and immune function.
- Cryptoxanthins – Health Benefits: A powerful antioxidant that can be converted to active retinol, or vitamin A, is crucial to the maintenance of healthy vision, reproduction, and body tissues and plays an important role in preventing many forms of cancer.
- Flavonoids – Health Benefits: There is a unique relationship between flavonoids and vitamin C. Flavonoids have the ability to alter transport of vitamin C, as well as to alter function of an enzyme called ascorbate oxidase, which converts vitamin C into a non-vitamin form.
- Indoles – Health Benefits: Associated with prevention of cancer, strong antioxidant and protects the lining of body cells.
- Lignans – Health Benefits: Support the immune system and are excellent for balancing hormone levels in the body.
- Lutein – Health Benefits: Helps protect your eyes and skin from ultraviolet (UV) damage; its yellow color blocks blue (UV) light from absorption. The macula in the retina contains a lot of lutein, which not only provides the eyes with protection from sunlight’s UV rays, but also seems to lower the risk of developing Age-related Macular Degeneration
- Lycopene – Health Benefits: Plays a role in preventing and slowing several types of cancer, may have the ability to prevent or delay cataracts, delay the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease, lowering high blood pressure levels. It prevents several cardiovascular diseases and helps relieve oxidative stress in bones that cause brittle and weak bone structure.
- Zinc & Manganese – Health Benefits: Manganese can help reduce fatigue levels, prevent the incidence and severity of osteoporosis, and even improve memory. Zinc has the ability to boost the immune system and prevent inflammatory diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Zinc Promotes healthy skin, nails, hair, eyes and bones.
- Polyphenols – Health Benefits: Neutralise free radicals, reduce inflammation and slow the growth of tumours
- Selenium – Health Benefits: May reduce the risk of certain cancers, may protect against heart disease, helps prevent mental decline, is important for thyroid health, boosts the immune system and may help reduce asthma symptoms.
- Vitamin A – Health Benefits: Protects eye health, supports immunity, relieves inflammation, keeps skin glowing, contains cancer-fighting properties, boosts bone health, reduces cholestero,l aids in reproduction and development, promotes tissue repair and prevents urinary stones.
- Vitamin C – Health Benefits: Protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and skin wrinkling.
- Vitamin E – Health Benefits: Balances cholesterol, prevents disease development, repairs damaged skin, thickens hair, balances hormones, improves vision, protection against Alzheimer’s disease, and may Lower cancer risk.
- Zoochemicals – Health Benefits: Zoochemicals are antioxidants derived from animals rather than plants. Help to reduce inflammation, risks of blood clotting or platelet aggregation, important for eye health, anti-cancer properties, improve brain functions and immune system.