Now more than ever we understand the importance of eating healthy, looking after our immune system and building a strong internal defense system. That’s where antioxidants come in! You have probably heard of antioxidants, but may be unsure about what they are and what they actually do. In this article you will learn everything there is to know about antioxidants, free radicals and antioxidant foods, oh my, so that you can ensure your body is building the protection it needs.
Antioxidants are substances that work interactively inside and outside of the body’s cells, protecting cell membranes from the damaging effects of highly reactive molecules called free radicals. This has led to antioxidants being known by another name – free radical scavengers.
Free radicals are “charged” molecules that run riot throughout the body, causing irreparable damage to your cells (including your DNA or genetic blueprint). They come from outside sources such as cigarette smoke, pollutants, radiation and even sunlight and can drive harmful diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
Free radical molecules are also the end-product of normal breathing and energy production within the body’s cells. Whilst oxygen is of course necessary for life, too much of it can damage our tissues. Oxidative damage is a sort of biological “rusting”, and exactly why we have a sophisticated in-built antioxidant defense system working on our behalf.
To put it simply, antioxidants protect us. They protect our cells from these harmful free radicals and “break the chain” of potential chemical destruction within the body to prevent less serious side effects of reduced antioxidant protection such as ageing.
Antioxidants are either water-soluble or fat-soluble, and we need both to effectively protect cells. These important antioxidants have their own varying benefits and include…
There are a wide variety of antioxidant vitamins which have a whole host of health benefits, including the vitamin C antioxidant helping to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and vitamin E antioxidant helping to stop free radicals attacking the fatty acids in a cell’s lining. To find out even more about vitamins and why they are important for our health read our insightful Guide to Essential Vitamins.
The body produces certain vital antioxidants. It’s this internal antioxidant defense system that enables us to thrive in an ever-increasing challenging and toxic world. However, the body also needs, and effectively uses, a multitude of antioxidant substances found readily in a natural wholefoods diet.
Eating a natural wholefood diet with a wide variety of foods is the key to obtaining all the antioxidant protection you need. The antioxidant support on offer in a plant-based diet extends way beyond the amount found in many antioxidant supplements. These antioxidant rich foods include:
There we have it! Nakd’s guide to what antioxidants are, why we need them and most importantly, how you can ensure your body is building a strong defense system. From the antioxidants that our bodies naturally produce to fight free radicals, to the amazing antioxidant rich foods you can add to your diet, you can ensure you’re staying fighting fit and building a strong immune system!
For even more useful health related articles, check out our Nakd blog and discover everything from Immune Boosting Foods, to Natural Sources of Vitamin D and the Difference Between Probiotics and Prebiotics.