Oxygen is evil. Even though oxygen is required for all living things, it is also the very thing that destroys us. Oxygen is the reason why apple slices turn brown, food becomes rancid, and why we age the way we do. This process is called oxidation. This process affects every living thing in nature including the cells in your body.
To help protect you from oxidative stress, the earth provides many different types of antioxidants within our fruits, vegetables, nuts and other sources of healthy foods. These antioxidants are absolutely crucial to your health as they help protect you against oxidation.
As oxygen interacts with your cells, they start to die. Now this wouldn’t be a normally significant thing as your body regenerate cells all the time. Unfortunately, oxidation can destroy 1 to 2% of the cells which then turn into free radicals.
These free radicals are essentially cells that have damaged DNA and can be extremely problematic. They are missing a critical molecule which sends them on a mission to try to recover this molecule. They will stop at nothing to find these molecules, even if that means destroying other cells in the process. The more free radicals in your body, the more damage it’s ultimately going to do to your body as a whole.
The even bigger problem is that the free radicals don’t just kill cells but they can also injure cells altering its DNA. These injured cells will multiply normally but will still have its damage sequence in the new cells. This is how problems such as cancer are created.
Free radicals are not generally a big problem if you’re eating healthy. This is because they are kept under control by antioxidants that are eaten through your food and are also generated by the body naturally. Excessive drinking or smoking can easily create these free radicals. If this happens, the body is likely to be overwhelmed by free radicals. Disease such as Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, cancer and premature aging are a sure cause of free radical damage.
So how can I stop this onslaught of damage to my body?
Well I’m glad you asked. As I said earlier, antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E are very good at capturing free radicals and neutralizing them. This stops the damage to your cellular structures before there’s a problem.
Polyphenols are a class of antioxidants that you can obtain from eating most vegetables that are green. Making sure you get your leafy greens into your diet is one of the most important things you can do. Spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce are just a few examples of foods rich in polyphenols.
Flavonoids are the biggest class of antioxidants that are known. The majority of fruits and vegetables contain flavonoids. As a rule of thumb, you should try your best to pick fruits that have deep and vibrant colors. The darker and more pronounced the color, the more flavonoids. Some good examples would be blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Citrus fruits are also a very good pick because of their flavonoid content as well as their vitamin C content (another antioxidant). Other good sources for flavonoids include green tea, soy products, and my favorite – wine.
Your body needs a mix of all these types of antioxidants for optimal protection. You should make sure you’re getting plenty of vitamin A, C, E as well as other vitamins and minerals such as beta-carotene. You also need to be protecting yourself by getting plenty of fruits and vegetables into your system. Multivitamins are also a great way your body can get an antioxidant boost. You need to be careful about certain vitamins such as vitamin E. Getting too much of this vitamin can cause health problems. Make sure to talk to a doctor to set up a proper nutritional plan.
But just taking a vitamin pill and eating right is not enough. You should also try to curb how much alcohol you consume as well as stop smoking if you do so. These are two of the biggest free radical generators and can make you extremely sick if you do not stop them. That’s not to say that you can’t drink once in a while, but try not to make it an everyday thing.