Prevention: The act of stopping something from happening or arising.
That is the key to health, right? Stopping something from starting in the first place, or putting it to a stop where it is. What if you could prevent cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and the many other disease plaguing our nation? Would you do it?
What if the answer to that lies in your hands, your control. While I know genes play a role as well as a host of other factors, much of the research today shows that the number one factor standing in the way of you and lasting health really is in your control and that being the lifestyle you choose to lead. The food you eat, the amount of exercise, use of recreational drugs, sleep, and stress all play a MAJOR role in how healthy your body is. And that means, it is in your control! The bottom line, what you eat and how you live is a major player in the health of your body, in preventing diseases, cancers and autoimmune diseases. Today, I’m going to talk about one piece of that puzzle, antioxidants.
What are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are chemicals that block the activity of other chemicals known as free radicals. We can also call antioxidants “free radical scavengers.” They protect our DNA in healthy cells from damage caused by these chemicals, especially against damage that can cause a number of different diseases including cancer. The best way to get antioxidants in our body is through the foods that we eat.
The body can make some of the antioxidants it uses to neutralize free radicals, these are called endogenous. However, the body also relies heavily on external (exogenous) sources, primarily found in the diet. These could also be called dietary antioxidants. Some of them include beta-carotene, lycopene and vitamins A, C, and E as well as minerals like selenium and manganese.
Foods grown organically can have greater levels of antioxidants, because they also protect plants. When plants are grown organically they contain more antioxidants to protect themselves from environmental toxins found in the air and soil that conventional farming kills with other chemicals.
What are Free Radicals?
Free radicals are deficient in energy and act like robbers. These free radicals attack and snatch energy from the other cells to satisfy themselves. They are highly reactive and have the potential to cause damage to cells. Free radicals are formed naturally in the body, however environmental toxins, food toxins and lifestyle choices such as smoking, and eating processed seed oils can lead to higher levels of free radicals and/or stimulate the body’s cells to produce more free radicals.
Free radicals are highly reactive chemicals that have the potential to harm cells. They are created when an atom or a molecule ( a chemical that has two or more atoms) either gains or loses an electron (a small negatively charged particle found in atoms). At high concentrations, free radicals can be hazardous to the body and damage all major components of cells, including DNA, proteins and cell membranes. The damage to the cells caused by free radicals, especially the damage to DNA may play a role in the development of cancer and other health conditions.
How Can You Improve Antioxidant Levels?
The best way to improve antioxidant levels and decrease free radicals is through lifestyle choices. Increase vegetable and fruit consumption, decreased processed foods including those processed seed oils, get better sleep, reduce stress and did I mention increase your vegetable consumption?
Sure dietary supplementation can be beneficial in some cases. However, toxicity, drug interactions and purification of supplements are an important component to the benefits of supplementation. My advice, supplement wisely. Speak with someone who knows the ins and outs of supplements and purchase them from a reliable, trusted source.
As I mentioned above, knowing your antioxidant levels are a huge predictor of disease processes that may be occurring in your body. Our key is prevention. Getting to it before it’s to late.
“Good health should not be the goal of life but rather a vehicle to reaching ones’ goals of life.” -WHO 2001