Antioxidants in Action Posted by Arbonne Beauty Editor
We're always being told to get more antioxidants into our diet. But what exactly are they, and why are they so important in the pursuit of health? We answer those questions, plus look at some of the best ways to include more antioxidants in your diet, whether it's via the food you eat or the nutritional supplements you take.
WHAT THEY ARE Essentially, antioxidants are molecules that help protect our bodies against free radicals. Free radicals are released when oxidization occurs within the body, and they can cause damage to the structure of cells.
HOW THEY HELP Scientists and medical experts consider the free radicals produced by oxidation to be one of the major causes of cellular degeneration both inside and out. By quenching these free radicals, antioxidants can help to prevent cellular damage and can assist in slowing down the cellular degeneration. An analogy that's often used to explain the process is that of an apple. When sliced, the inner flesh of an apple will quickly turn brown due to oxidation. But rub it with lemon juice – a source of antioxidant-rich Vitamin C – and the process will be slowed significantly. Ingesting antioxidants can have an effect akin to that of the lemon juice on the apple. Another analogy is to think of the body (on a cellular level) as a highway. The cracks or potholes in the road are like the cell damage caused by free radicals, and antioxidants help to reduce the chance of cracks and potholes.
WHAT TO AVOID In addition to being produced internally, we are also bombarded by free radicals from a wide array of external sources. Some of the main offenders are: alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, sun/UV exposure, food additives and chemicals, air pollutants and even smoked or barbecued foods.
WHAT TO EAT The best diet to help fight the assault of free radicals is one brimming with antioxidant-rich foods. These include "superfoods" such as açai berries, goji berries and pomegranate, plus many basic fruits and vegetables such as: carrots, squash, sweet potato, broccoli, kale, berries, apples, citrus fruits and many more items from your local farmers market or produce aisles. Other items that will boost your antioxidant intake include: foods rich in vitamins A, C or E (vitamin E-rich foods include nuts, seeds, whole grains and fish-liver oil); green tea products; and the trace mineral selenium, which is incorporated into the body's endogenous antioxidant system (and can be found in fish, shellfish, red meat, whole grains, eggs, chicken and garlic).
WHAT ELSE CAN WE DO? A diet rich in high antioxidant foods is a great first step in the fight against free radicals. But in the real world, most people need a little extra help. Supplements (such as Arbonne Essentials™ Antioxidant & Immunity Booster) can dramatically helps boost a person's antioxidant intake. "We recommend a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables," says Dr. Peter Matravers, Arbonne Sr. Vice President of Product Development. "But of course, all too often these days most people don't have time to eat as healthily as they'd like to. So we also recommend further enhancing an antioxidant rich diet with nutritional supplements, such as products in the Arbonne Essentials line. Our Antioxidant & Immunity Booster, for example, contains ingredients such as milk thistle, which supports glutathione, our master endogenous antioxidant."
While advice about antioxidants can sometimes sound a little complex, it's refreshing to learn that it's simple to adjust one's diet and nutrition regimen to significantly boost antioxidant levels.