Antioxidants in Food – The Key to Beat the Effects of Aging
Our bodies are amazing systems. Billions of chemical reactions take place within them every second. It is these reactions that form life – and they are dependent on what we put into our bodies (food and water) and how we use our bodies (exercise).
According to figures from the World Health Organization (WHO), three-quarters of deaths across the globe are a result of lifestyle diseases which include heart disease, stroke and cancer. Clearly something is amiss.
Poor dietary and physical activity choices are the key causes of this increasing trend in both industrial regions and developing countries.
We can’t escape death but we can, in many cases, avoid premature death and we can slow down the ageing process. While a healthy diet is important throughout life it becomes a necessity as we age.
Antioxidants to the Rescue
Antioxidants have received much media attention. For once the hype is warranted.
All the intense activity within our bodies means that mistakes occur; oxidative damage takes place, free radicals are produced. These will stick onto anything such as cell membranes, a protein or a fat or a piece of DNA. This is bad news for the body. And the longer we live the more cells and DNA become worn out. Eventually they are unable to replicate to 100 per cent. In other words, we age.
However, the body is clever and has developed a system to mop up these free radicals before they have a chance to do a great deal of damage. This system is the antioxidant system.
How Antioxidants Combat Ageing
- • Prevent UV damage from the sun. Sun damage ages the skin and can result in cell mutations.
- • Promote a healthy heart by keeping cholesterol levels within a normal range, reduce wear and tear on blood vessels and maintain a normal heart rhythm.
- • Provide a strong immune system and making you more resistant to certain cancers.
We have to ensure that we get antioxidants from the food that we eat, namely fruit and vegetables. For healthy ageing these foods pack a punch:
Berries are teeming with antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory. Choose blueberries, strawberries and cranberries. These fruits have a relatively low sugar content too.
Literally, the food of the gods, at least that’s what the Aztecs thought. Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants, promotes cardiovascular health, slows down the ageing process and can prevent cancerous cell mutations. Raw Cacao is 20 times more concentrated in antioxidants than 70 per cent dark chocolate, and nearly 15 times more concentrated than green tea and red wine. Add it to smoothies or sprinkle on fruit.
Bursting with antioxidants and phytonutrients, cruciferous vegetables can help prevent cancer, improve blood lipid values and help remove waste from the body. They are amazing free radical scavengers. Recognise them by the crucifix shape at their base. They include cauliflower, cabbage, cress, bok choy, broccoli and brussels sprouts. Eat daily.
Brightly Colored Veggies/ Fruits
Rainbow on a plate! Think carrots, bell peppers and citrus fruits. Carrots contain high levels of beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A that has potent antioxidant abilities.
Coupled with the high vitamin C levels of bell peppers and citrus, these fruits and veggies provide a massive anti-ageing effect in those who consume it. Don’t forget tomatoes, rich in lycopene, a rare antioxidant that is especially helpful to men’s health.
The Proof is in the Eating
Antioxidants provide well-documented and researched insurance against the rigours of ageing. They help safeguard the health of the heart, eyes and skin and strengthen the immune system.
Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables ensures you get the widest spectrum of phytonutrients available to prevent lifestyle diseases and maintain a healthy weight.