The human body is a powerful mechanism managed by an intricate balance of hormones, cells, and organs. Because there is no one specific science to overall health – ie daily cigar-smoking men living into their nineties and forty year old professionals suffering from heart attacks – there are a number of various ways we can support or deplete our health. One thing that holds true, however, is that an important element of health, vitality, and longevity are antioxidants. Antioxidants are perhaps one of the most important nutrients to incorporate into our regimens, and have properties critical to a vibrant life.
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are micronutrients that protect our tissues from harmful chemical responses caused by oxidation and cellular stress. They interact safely with free radicals to slow the chain of damaging reactions before damage is done to cells. By doing this, they fight disease, protect our memories, and slow aging. Antioxidants include a large number of nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lycopene, resveratrol, and carotenoids.
Threats to our health – Oxidation and Free Radicals
Oxidation happens much like rust on a bike or how an apple turns brown – when oxygen interacts with our cells, it creates a ‘biological rust’ that reduces the efficiency of our cells. Oxidation is accelerated by stress, alcohol, cigarettes, and toxins from food and the environment.
Free radicals are created when oxygen interacts with molecules, starting a chain of damaging reactions. Free radicals are particularly dangerous because they can interfere with the healthy formation of DNA and cause cells to reduce function or die. Free radicals are created in the body, but also come from our food, air, and sun exposure. They are a large threat to the overall health of our systems, and play a role in the development of cancer, aging, and cardiovascular risks.
Power of Antioxidants
While studies are inconclusive on the benefits of antioxidant supplements, their credibility is noteworthy. The one finding that has been proven across studies is the effective impact of antioxidants on eyesight. Because health is not a simple science, using antioxidants as a way to fix or reverse serious illness, as many studies have, has not resulted in consistent success. We can, however, reasonably consider antioxidants critically part of a healthy and wise lifestyle. The most wholesome and reliable source of antioxidants are bright, organic fruits and vegetables. Enjoyed on a consistent basis, they have the power to reverse sun damage, reduce visible signs of aging, protect against illness, and slow or prevent age-related disease. They are not a cure all, but they do have significant potency when it comes to physical vitality, resilience, and mental clarity, and protecting the body from depleting forces of daily life.