The Power Of Antioxidants
If you’ve ever wondered how you can slow and even reverse the process of biological ageing, reduce your risk of developing chronic disease and enhance your level of health and wellbeing – the answer is – Antioxidants.
Studies throughout the last 30 years reveal that many of the so-called degenerative diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cataracts and arthritis arise because of a deficiency in antioxidants – nutrients that protect the body against the harmful and damaging effects of chemicals called ‘free radicals’. By increasing your daily intake of antioxidants through diet and supplementation, you reduce the amount of free radical activity within your body, and significantly lower your risk of developing degenerative disease.
What is an Antioxidant?
Antioxidants are substances that neutralise free radicals (the highly unstable chemicals that get produced in our bodies). These destructive chemicals wreak havoc by damaging cellular DNA (our genetic material), destroying cells and corroding cellular membranes. This sort of damage is the number one cause of ageing and a significant contributor to over 60 diseases. Free radicals enter our bodies through breathing in polluted air and cigarette smoke, and are generated during prolonged stress or illness and through every metabolic reaction involving oxygen. When oxygen molecules become unstable they seek to stabilise by reacting with other chemicals. If left unchecked, this leads to inflammation and arterial wall damage – which can lead to disease and premature ageing. Antioxidants can ‘mop up’ free radicals and prevent this damage from taking place. The key to good health, disease prevention and anti-ageing is therefore to make sure that our antioxidant levels are consistently high enough to neutralise the free radicals within our bodies.
Where are Antioxidants found?
Co-Enzyme Q10, all of which are found in the food that we eat. The best way to increase your antioxidant intake is by eating antioxidant rich foods such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, plums and broccoli, as well as nuts, grains and some meats, poultry and fish. As a general rule of thumb you should aim to eat at least 5 to 9 portions of vegetables and fruit a day and try and mix them up, so you don’t keep eating the same foods every day. Variety and consistency in eating those 5-9 portions is the key! However, in most cases this is unrealistic, unpractical or unaffordable. The answer? Supplementation…
Which Antioxidant supplement should I take?
The key to choosing an antioxidant supplement is taking one that combines a number of antioxidant ingredients or alternatively, taking a combination of supplements. In holistic medicine we use combinations because of a phenomenon called ‘synergy’ (where the ingredients support and enhance each other’s effectiveness) which makes the combination much more powerful than individual antioxidant nutrients. Research has shown that taking an antioxidant in isolation can actually do more harm than good. Often an isolated antioxidant becomes overwhelmed or damaged and puts stress on the body too. But in the presence of other antioxidants they recycle one another and prevent this from happening.
When considering an antioxidant formula or combination, look for at least four of the following ingredients:
Vitamin C: A powerful antioxidant that helps to support the immune system, detoxify pollutants and protect against heart disease and cancer.
Vitamin E: (Natural D-Alpha Tocopheryl Succinate). Vitamin E is one of the most potent antioxidants and is of particular significance in slowing down the ageing process and preventing disease.
Selenium: Significantly enhances the activity of Vitamin E and has been shown to stimulate the immune system, protect against free radicals, detoxify the body of carcinogens and protect the liver.
Alpha Lipoic Acid: is a vitamin-like substance that is both water and fat soluble, meaning that it can protect against a wide range of free radicals. In addition it can help ‘unlock energy’ from food.
Co-Enzyme Q10: An antioxidant which aids energy production, improves exercise tolerance, blood pressure and boosts immunity.
Lycopene: The tomato extract responsible for their redness – is a potent antioxidant, particularly when combined with other antioxidants and may have particular value in protection against prostate, colon, lung, and bladder.
Pine Bark Extract: A biologically active flavonoid and powerful antioxidant. For generations, Native Indians recognised that the bark or needles of the pine tree had incredible healing properties.
Grape Seed Extract: Is rich in biologically active ‘procyanidins’ (OPCs), renowned for their powerful antioxidant effects. Studies show that the antioxidant activity of this extract is significantly greater than that of Vitamins C, E, or Beta-Carotene.
To raise your body’s antioxidant levels, reduce the risk of disease, reverse premature ageing and enhance your level of health and wellbeing:
Eat at least five portions of antioxidant rich foods (such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, plums and broccoli) a day.
Wherever possible avoid smoking, polluted environments, over exercising and processed and fried foods.
Take antioxidant supplements such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, Pine Bark Extract, Grape Seed Extract, Lycopene, Co Enzyme Q10 and Lipoic Acid.