Antioxidants and Immune System Support – Healthy Positive Mind –
Antioxidants, substances that help prevent the damaging effects of oxidation on cells throughout your body, are plentiful in many foods, primarily fruits and vegetables. Because there are beneficial interactions between antioxidants and other components of foods, health authorities say that getting antioxidants from food may offer health benefits superior to those taken in supplement form.
Benefits of Antioxidants
Antioxidants come up frequently in discussions about good health and preventing diseases. These powerful substances, which mostly come from the fresh fruits, and vegetables we eat, prohibit (and in some cases even prevent), the oxidation of other molecules in the body. The benefits of antioxidants are very important to good health, because if free radicals are left unchallenged, they can cause a wide range of illnesses and chronic diseases.
Antioxidants and Free Radicals
The human body naturally produces free radicals and the antioxidants to counteract their damaging effects. However, in most cases, free radicals far outnumber the naturally occurring antioxidants. In order to maintain the balance, a continual supply of external sources of antioxidants is necessary in order to obtain the maximum benefits of antioxidants. Antioxidants benefit the body by neutralizing and removing the free radicals from the bloodstream.
Abnormally high concentrations of free radicals in the body can be caused by exposure to ionizing radiation and other environmental toxins. When ionizing radiation hits an atom or a molecule in a cell, an electron may be lost, leading to the formation of a free radical. The production of abnormally high levels of free radicals is the mechanism by which ionizing radiation kills cells. Moreover, some environmental toxins, such as cigarette smoke, some metals, and high-oxygen atmospheres, may contain large amounts of free radicals or stimulate the body’s cells to produce more free radicals.
Free radicals that contain the element oxygen are the most common type of free radicals produced in living tissue. Another name for them is “reactive oxygen species,” or “ROS”.
Different Antioxidants Benefit Different Parts of the Body
There are a wide range of antioxidants found in nature, and because they are so varied, different antioxidants provide benefits to different parts of the body. For example, beta-carotene (and other carotenoids) is very beneficial to eye health; lycopene is beneficial for helping maintain prostate health; flavonoids are especially beneficial for heart health; and proanthocyanidins are beneficial for urinary tract health.
Antioxidants and Skin Health Benefits
When skin is exposed to high levels of ultraviolet light, photo-oxidative damage is induced by the formation of different types of reactive species of oxygen, including singlet oxygen, superoxide radicals, and peroxide radicals. These forms of reactive oxygen damage cellular lipids, proteins, and DNA, and they are considered to be the primary contributors to erythema (sunburn), premature aging of the skin, photodermatoses, and skin cancers. Astaxanthin, followed by beta-carotene combined with vitamin E has been shown to be one of the most powerful antioxidant combinations for helping protect the skin from reactive species of oxygen.
Antioxidants and Immune System Support
Singlet oxygen can compromise the immune system, because it has the ability to catalyze production of free radicals. Astaxanthin and Spirulina have been shown to enhance both the non-specific and specific immune system, and to protect cell membranes and cellular DNA from mutation. Astaxanthin is the single most powerful quencher of singlet oxygen, and is up to ten times stronger than other carotenoids (including beta-carotene), and up to 500 times stronger than alpha tocopherol (Vitamin E), while Spirulina has a variety of antioxidants and other substances that are beneficial in boosting immunity.
Additional Ways Antioxidants Help Benefit One’s Health
Increasing one’s antioxidant intake is essential for optimum health, especially in today’s polluted world. Because the body just can’t keep up with antioxidant production, a good amount of these vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and enzymes must come from one’s daily diet. Boosting your antioxidant intake can help provide added protection for the body against:
- Heart problems
- Eye problems
- Memory problems
- Mood disorders
- Immune system problems
How can you get more of these antioxidants into your body?
The secret to consuming more antioxidants is simple: Eat more organic fresh fruits and vegetables.
Antioxidants in Food
The simplest and most effective way to expose yourself to more antioxidants is through your diet. By incorporating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day into your diet, you may be helping your body reduce its chances of heart disease, neurological diseases, cancer and lowered immunity.
Studies show that it is more effective to get antioxidants through diet, as opposed to taking supplements. So, enjoy eating a variety of these fruits and veggies daily!
Foods High in Antioxidants
The following is a short-list for antioxidant-rich Foods. Try to incorporate as many as possible into your daily diet. Remember, organic, raw, fresh and local is always best:
- Olive Oil
- Green Tea
- Red Beets
- Goji Berries
- Acai Berry
- Coconut Oil
- Pinto Beans
- Broad Beans
- Wheat Germ
- Hempseed Oil
- Barley & Rye
- Black Currant
- Blood Oranges
- Sweet Potatoes
- Raw Nuts & Seeds
- Whole Grain Brown Rice
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