Are you getting enough Antioxidants?
Every morning we wake up with the choice to feed ourselves the food we have been conditioned to crave or the foods our body desperately needs. When it comes to cravings, typically they are the body’s way of making up for the loss of nutrients or an imbalance in our system. However, normally the message gets lost in translation. We reach for the chocolate bar instead of the bowl of berries, the bag of chips instead of the leafy green salad, and so on, and so on. It becomes a nasty cycle that is hard to kick. But have you ever stopped to think about what this is doing to the inside of your body and how much damage it can create over time?
In DNA alone, the human body consists of a few key components that desperately need to stay balanced to function properly. These components include free radicals, antioxidants, and oxidation, to name a few. These components protect from pathogens, an organism that causes disease, and oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body.
“Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons. The uneven number allows them to easily react with other molecules.” This can cause large chain chemical reactions in the body called oxidation which can be beneficial or harmful. Antioxidants play the role of donating an electron to a free radical creating a more stable balance of molecules, without disruption. This causes the free radicals to stabilize and become less reactive.
This balance and the power of antioxidants help fight off diabetes, inflammatory conditions, high blood pressure, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, and so many more diseases. Not only do antioxidants create balance to protect the body from within, but also from harmful free radicals existing in the environment. Some of these include: ozone, certain pesticides and cleaners, cigarette smoke, radiation, pollution, and an unhealthy diet rich in fats, sugar, and alcohol.
When the correct amount of antioxidants is implemented into the body daily, free radicals even out thus creating a stable environment for healthy digestion, decreased risk of disease, and an inhospitable environment for oxidative stress.
The best way to increase antioxidant intake and prevent an over formation of free radicals as well as minimizing the effects of oxidative stress on the body is to cultivate a diet rich in antioxidants. According to Dr. Michael Greger, author of How Not to Die and owner of the nonprofit Nutrition Facts, there is an easy science to creating this diet consisting of quality fruits and vegetables over quantity.
The standard American diet consists of “high-fat and refined carbohydrate ‘pro-oxidant and pro-inflammatory’ meals.” This standard diet sets up the standard American for a body full of unnecessary free radical exposure and oxidative stress. As a society, diets seem to consist of a lot of food, but not enough plants. Antioxidant-rich foods originate from the plant kingdom due to the thousands of natural antioxidant compounds found naturally in plant foods. Therefore, it is best to stick to at least five servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants per day. These include all types of berries, cherries, citrus fruits, prunes, dark leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, olives, and many more. Not only are fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, but spices and teas are a crucial component of an antioxidant rich diet as well. Turmeric powder, cinnamon, garlic, green tea, fish, and nuts are also all incredibly high in antioxidants.
According to Dr. Greger’s research, “men in the U.S. average about 2,500 calories a day, and so should be getting at least 11,000 micromoles (antioxidant units) a day. Women who eat about 1,800 calories, on average, should get at least 8,000 (antioxidant units).” However, the average American does not consume half of the antioxidant units needed for the bodily to properly function.
While an antioxidant rich diet balances the physical body from within, studies have also shown how it heals the mental body as well. Higher consumption of fruits and vegetables, as well as a plant-based diet, through food instead of dietary supplements, has been found to lead to a lower risk of developing depression. Along with depression, anxiety is thought to be connected with a “lowered total antioxidant state.” According to Harvard health studies, enhancing a diet consisting of foods rich in antioxidants helps ease the symptoms of anxiety disorders as well as depressive symptoms.
It is only fitting that as a company dedicated to care for the health and wellbeing of others, we understand the need for antioxidants and balance in the physical and mental body. Each of our meals consist of high antioxidant foods such as kale, spinach, beans, berries, and so many more. We even have a smoothie named “The Antioxidant” packed with antioxidant-rich berries, juices, and adaptogens.
We are aware that while free radicals and antioxidants are part of the body’s natural and healthy functioning, oxidative stress can cause damage to many of the body’s tissues, which may lead to a number of diseases over time. Therefore, a diet rich in nutritional, antioxidant-rich food is the healthiest way to feed and care for our bodies.
No one can completely avoid exposure to free radicals, but lifestyle choices can be made regarding diet, exercise, and environment that will ultimately help keep the body in balance, and prevent damage and disease in the future.