The word ‘antioxidant’ keeps buzzing in the fitness realm. Have you ever thought what are these and why our body needs them? Antioxidants are man-made or natural substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage.
Yes, you may have heard that it fights free radicals. That is absolutely right. Let us delve deeper and find out more! But first about Free Radicals….
First let us talk about the bad guys called ‘free radicals’. Oxidation is a process in the human body that damages cell membranes and other vital parts of the cell including DNA. Metabolizing of oxygen gives rise to free radicals. These are atoms having an odd number of electrons. They always seek opportunities to steal an electron from cells and get stabilized.
Messing up with the structure of the cell can be detrimental. Health problems linked to free radical presence in the body are:
- Heart Disease
- Acceleration of aging
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Cognitive Decline
- Macular Degeneration ( an eye condition where vision is lost)
Processes causing free radicals in the body are:
- Physical exercise
- Conversion of energy
- Smoke emitted from cigarette and air pollution
While the first two are natural causes the others in the list are man-made.
Antioxidants the saviors! How Antioxidants Work On Free Radicals Damage
How do anti oxidants help in getting rid of free radicals? Free radicals get electrons from antioxidants and stabilise themselves. In this way they would not have the need to steal electrons from body cells. The cell damage caused by free radicals is also repaired by antioxidants.
So, antioxidants are chemicals that slow down cell damage by neutralizing free radicals. Antioxidants are generous enough to donate electrons to free radicals and neutralise them. The body creates its own antioxidant enzymes and at the same time procures antioxidants from food.
List of antioxidants:
- Vitamin E- Fat soluble vitamin that prevents the free radicals from damaging cell membranes.
- Vitamin C- Water soluble vitamin that fights free radicals.
- Beta carotene- Also water soluble.
- Selenium- It is a trace element needed in very small quantities.
Foods that contain antioxidants are:
Fruits- Berries like strawberries, raspberries, cranberries and fruits rich in vitamin C such as guava, papaya and oranges
Veggies-Carrots and tomatoes, broccoli, capsicums, beans, cauliflower, and green leafy vegetables.
Nuts-Walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews and peanuts in moderation.
While you must be all happy about antioxidants you must also know that taking excess of them will not do any good to you. While the natural sources of antioxidants are good but taking supplements in excess can cause unnecessary trouble.
Several studies have been conducted and it has been found that the body in fact requires a specific amount of free radicals in order to destroy cancer cells and bacteria. Consuming excess of antioxidant supplements can interrupt the behavior of the beneficial free radicals in the body and this can result in diseases.
Excess of everything is bad you know!
So have a healthy diet and stay fit!
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