Humans are always looking for ways to fight aging and prolong life. Many times people look to artificial means to accomplish these goals. Medications, creams, and plastic surgery are often last resorts for those that wish to have a more youthful appearance. Some individuals turn to nature and initiate radical dietary changes. The natural approach is much closer to the solution than invasive surgeries and magic creams. One of the key ingredients in food that can improve appearance, youth, and health are antioxidants. These are found in many foods we eat every day and some not-so-familiar ones. Addition of antioxidants can rapidly improve many health issues and can prevent others.
The basic function of an antioxidant is to halt oxidation. Agents of oxidation are readily available in our bodies and all living organisms. Our body needs a significant amount of antioxidants to counter the effects of this reaction. You may not recognize the names used for them in supplements. These include carotenoids (beta-carotene), vitamin C, and lycopene. This is a simple explanation of a very important part of fighting illness.
Where to Find Them
Many people turn to supplements when they do not have time to fit everything into their diet. There are supplements available to introduce antioxidants into your diet, but the actual foods are always the best option. Your body often absorbs supplements differently and less efficiently. Some antioxidants are actually made by your body. Antioxidants double as anti-inflammatories, assisting in many health issues.
Berries are one of the easiest ways to gather your antioxidants. These make great snacks and can be eaten easily throughout the day. The best options are Goji berries, blueberries, and cranberries. Elderberries are also an option and are often used for the treatment and prevention of the flu. For those with a sweet tooth, you can turn to dark chocolate for your daily fix. Go ahead and indulge in tasty artichoke dip. Those artichokes are packed with antioxidant. Kidney beans are a great source of both antioxidants and protein.
Herbs and Spices
Many herbs and spices are also helpful in supplying antioxidants. Turmeric has recently gained popularity as its past has become more well-known. Many cultures have used this spice for centuries. Western culture has not adopted it as a regular addition to recipes, however. It is easily added to many dishes and helps with a myriad of health issues. Curcumin is the active ingredient and is used in many Indian dishes in the form of curry. This spice is not only linked to antioxidants, but also to the reduction of brain diseases.
You may be able to enjoy those holiday pies a little more, knowing that cloves, cinnamon, and ginger are also antioxidants. Some herbs and spices that are more commonly used on a daily basis are oregano, basil, and thyme. You often do not have to look far to find antioxidants. Many are hiding in your kitchen cabinets.
What They Do
Antioxidants fight oxidation in the body caused by free radicals. Free radicals are basically formed by pollutants that enter the body from things like processed foods. The environment we live in is especially polluted, causing free radicals to enter your body from the air and through the skin, as well. Antioxidants also reduce inflammation, which is a leading cause of many diseases. Problems in the body occur when the amount of free radicals is higher than that of antioxidants. Depending on your lifestyle, this can happen very easily.
Think of antioxidants as your army against free radicals. They guard your healthy cells, keeping the damage at bay. Cancerous cells can multiply quickly with the help of free radicals. Antioxidants have been proven to stop or slow down the growth of these cells. Stressful lifestyles also contribute to the production of free radicals. Your body’s chemistry changes when you are stressed. Additional antioxidants may be needed during difficult times.
Free radicals are caused by the oxidation process. This chemical reaction releases free radicals into your body that are set on deteriorating things like your skin. This is how premature aging begins. Your body is fighting oxidation every day. If you do not supply it with the proper ingredients to fight back, unpleasant symptoms occur. Cells are damaged in the process. This is why your skin can begin to look very old after repeated sun damage. Your diet can play a big part in protecting your skin. Processed foods fill your body with chemicals that are not needed. These all have to be processed somehow. They contribute to the further production of free radicals, wreaking havoc on your health.
Specific Health Issues
Aging is one of the main effects that happens when free radicals take over the body. The skin can begin to look older faster than it should. Take a moment to think about how organic matter decomposes. Oxygen and bacteria are always needed for proper decomposition. Your body is a breeding ground for oxidation. A diet rich in antioxidants can slow down the process. Before you run out and purchase a pile of creams for your face, adjust your diet.
Cognitive function is also a risk with excessive free radicals. Alzheimer’s disease is on the rise and may have something to do with the many processed foods that have increased in number over the years. To help prevent deterioration of brain cells, rely on a steady supply of antioxidants. Other health issues that can be prevented with antioxidants are cancers, strokes, and heart disease. Even your vision can be negatively affected when your supply of antioxidants is low.
Your body needs a constant supply of the correct nutrients to survive and remain healthy. Antioxidants are one of the many necessities you need to counter many health issues. Pollutants in our air and food contribute to early aging and cancer. These have increased steadily over the past years with the higher use of processed foods and fuels. Our bodies need antioxidants in higher volumes than people living in the past. Adjust your diet to improve your health.