What Antioxidants REALLY Do (and easy ways to get enough)
Everybody has heard of antioxidants, everybody knows that are good for them and it feels like every food and drink product under the sun claims to have them.
But what are antioxidants and why are they so important? Oh, and what is the easiest, and best way to make sure we get enough!
Antioxidants: The Basics
Antioxidants literally do what they say on the tin, they prevent oxidation reactions in the body. They are anti-oxidising.
And why is this important? Because oxidation reactions in the body produce ‘free radicals’ which are serious cell damagers and the cause of many diseases and aging. In fact, oxidative stress has been shown to be pivotal in the onset of many diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, motor neurone disease and a number of different cancers.
These oxidation reactions are natural in the body (they happen when our cells use oxygen) and we cannot and should not try to prevent them. But we do need to ensure we are consuming enough antioxidants to clean up the by-product of these reactions, the free radicals.
Antioxidants are free-radical scavengers, scuttling about through the body, not only removing these free radicals, but also repairing the damage that they have done. Brilliant.
Where Can I Get Some?
Thankfully antioxidants are found in tasty, tasty foods! Here are some of the most important, with a list of our favourite (alkaline, vegetarian) sources:
Glutathione: because all other antioxidants depend upon the presence of glutathione to function properly, scientists call it ’the master antioxidant.’ To give your body the best chance of manufacturing enough you have to eat a nice, wide variety of sources. Foods that help are asparagus, broccoli, avocado and spinach.
Vitamin A and Carotenoids: these ones are easy to get, just hit the fresh aisle of the supermarket or grocery store and head for the colour! Carrots, peppers (capsicum), broccoli, sweet potato, greens, tomatoes are all a really great source.
Vitamin C: people naturally assume oranges and other citrus, but if you are trying to live alkaline and/or trying not to consume too much sugar you can get your vitamin c from green capsicum (peppers), broccoli, spinach (and other greens), tomatoes and cauliflower. Can you see a theme emerging with some of these antioxidant sources?
Flavonoids / polyphenols:green tea is great, but don’t go overboard on the caffeine! Vegetables high in flavonoids include onion, kale, green beans, broccoli, celery, tomato, pepper/capsicum, cabbage, carrots and peas!
Vitamin E: no tomatoes in this list! Vitamin E is all about the almonds and sunflower seeds! Leafy greens are also pretty good, but almonds and sunflower seeds have almost double the Vitamin E of other food sources.
Lycopene: you probably already know to hit the tomatoes hard for your lycopene fix, and they are pretty much, hands-down the best source. The jury is still out as to whether lycopene is absorbed better from cooked instead of raw tomatoes, but it has been proven that vine ripened tomatoes outscore those tomatoes ripened off the vine. Pink grapefruit is also a decent source if you want to mix it up a bit (grapefruit is also great for the liver).
Lutein: greens, greens, greens. That’s all there really is to say on this one!
Lignan: flax seed/oil is the very best source of this antioxidant, giving another argument for the case to consume plenty of flax oil every day! Sesame seeds are also a great source. Again, greens are another of the best food sources.
The Four Easiest Ways to Antioxidants
So in order to get your body’s requirement of antioxidants daily there are three great sources:
Drink ionized alkaline water as it is rich in antioxidants. Measured using a method called ORP (oxygen reduction potential) ionized water, depending on the level of pH and ionizer make, it would offer us an ORP of -200 to -500. To give this context, green tea has an ORP of -200, meaning that ionized water has over twice the antioxidant content of green tea. Drinking 2-3 liters of water from your ionizer each day will dramatically increase your antioxidant intake, and more than that ....... see features and benefits of ionized water
Greens & Tomatoes: by getting plenty of serves of leafy green vegetables, other greens such as asparagus and tomatoes you will be getting a really good range of antioxidants and also providing your body with the sources it needs to manufacture Glutathione
Fresh Fruit, depending on variety have more or less antioxidants
Not quite as easy but effective: Fresh fruit juices and vege juices
Source: energise4life and Ionza editing