Free radicals are mostly bad, but did you know that lymphocytes, a type of immune cell within your body, use free radicals to kill bacteria and viruses, and that your liver uses them to break down toxins? The problem is, our modern environment exposes us to immense numbers of free radicals – pollution, strenuous exercise, radiation, tobacco, drugs (prescription or otherwise), pesticides, household chemicals, fried foods, fast foods, and more. Because of this we want to make sure to have plenty of anti-oxidants to combat their damage.
This starts to sound familiar right? It is the same story we hear about bacteria levels in our body. There are always good and bad bacteria present in our bodies, but for optimal health and disease prevention, we want to make sure that the good bacteria outnumber the bad. That’s why it is important to consume probiotics.
The concept is the same with free radicals. If our bodies have too many, our cells can’t defend themselves from the free radical damage quickly enough. The damage eventually leads to premature aging and countless types of disease. Therefore, we want to eat and supplement with plenty of antioxidants.
The most common daily sources of antioxidants are fruits and veggies. However, there are many reasons people are not eating enough fruits or veggies. Even if you are a good consumer, many times the nutrient density or the antioxidant content is sub-par due to growing and shipping conditions. Yet another reason why modern day health requires supplementation for the average consumer.
There are thousands of antioxidants, many that are familiar to us, including vitamins A, beta-carotene, C and E. Minerals such as selenium and zinc, enzymes, and nutrients like alpha-lipoic acid and CoQ10.
Like everything in life, balance is the key. Picking out just one synthetic antioxidant and mega-dosing on it, could actually produce more free radicals in the long run. Look to food first and then vary your supplement routine by first consuming a variety of super-foods, for example Goji Berries. You can then choose supplements as close to a food form as possible, like powdered vitamin C from Camu-Camu, or Sea Buckthorn Puree.
Other powerful antioxidant sources you may not have thought about include, Aloe, Mangosteen, Noni, Bilberry, Rosemary, Turmeric, Spirulina, grasses like Barley, Oat and Wheat (all high in chlorophyll), Rhodiola, Mushrooms, He Shou Wu, Lycii, Resveratrol, Cocoa, Green Tea. This list could go on and on. So next time you are shopping for food, super-foods, and supplements, think in terms of the antioxidant potential, and give your body a fighting chance.
Photo Credit: biohealthscience.org