What are Antioxidants?

It seems like antioxidants are everywhere these days. Although our bodies naturally produce these protective substances, there’s been a recent surge of finding new and exciting foods and products abundant with these seemingly miraculous materials.

The modern world has given us countless advantages, but with all of the benefits of living in today’s world, there are bound to be some pitfalls. While medical technology is advancing at alarming rates, we, as a society, are remarkably unhealthy.

One of the most detrimental consequences of modern society is our constant exposure to harmful pollutants. Along with these contaminants, we are subjected to many other toxins and chemicals which effectively shave years off our lives. Many of these compounds introduce additional free radicals into our system and antioxidants are our only hope.

We here at Glacier Wellness aim to provide our readers with simple answers to tough questions. Today, we’re going to be taking a look at the benefits of antioxidants, relevant clinical trials, and the many types of antioxidants. Our goal is to remove the mystery behind the buzzword and give clear, insightful, and actionable information about antioxidants.

What are Antioxidants

Antioxidants are the acting agents which neutralize the effects of oxidation. Although oxidation may sound positive, especially considering how essential it is to Life, the molecular process plays a major role in many chronic diseases and health conditions. Oxidation is simply a chemical reaction in which oxygen bonds with another molecule to create a new substance, whereby at least one electron is lost.

This reaction creates an unstable, highly-reactive atom which can wreak havoc on surrounding cells. The result is what is called free radicals and they can cause tremendous long-term damage. Fortunately, our bodies naturally produce antioxidants to combat free radicals. While free radicals are the result of necessary molecular processes, they must be mitigated for our body to maintain homeostasis.

Free Radicals  

What are Free Radicals?

According to the Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary, “free radicals are formed naturally as products of metabolic processes and can also be introduced from outside the body through smoking, inhaling environmental pollutants, or exposure to ultraviolet radiation. They interact readily with nearby molecules and may cause cellular damage, including genetic alterations”.

In addition to being capable of damaging healthy microorganisms and normal tissues, free radicals have been implicated in age-related damage, degenerative phenomena and many forms of cancer.

Free radicals – also called reactive oxygen species (ROS) – are nearly everywhere, prompting the current rise in antioxidants in cosmetic and health products. Although clinical trials detailing the effects of oxidative stress are still somewhat new, we have already witnessed their detrimental results across the globe.

Modern medical education has discovered that these potentially damaging compounds are particularly harmful to the liver and the brain, though they have been found to specifically target nucleic acids, proteins, and lipids. Similarly, clinical research shows that free radicals are primarily produced in several organelles, including mitochondria and peroxisomes. However, studies suggest that exercise and inflammation may also increase free radical production. This important finding indicates that CBD and other cannabinoids may prove to be invaluable in combatting free radicals.

Formation of Free Radicals

Antioxidants Benefits

Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, glutathione, Uric acid, and superoxide dismutase, are compounds stable enough to donate an electron to oppose free radical production. These essential molecules are produced naturally by the metabolic process to delay and mitigate the effects of free radicals. While they possess a remarkable ability to scavenge the body for free radicals, many people require more antioxidants than the body can produce.

On the molecular level, antioxidants act as a chain-breaking mechanism to prevent the bonding of free radicals. Additionally, antioxidants can effectively remove ROS initiators, ultimately stopping free radicals from being built.

These preventative antioxidants are the body’s first line of defense against free radicals and are most commonly found in the body. On the other hand, the antioxidants responsible for blocking free radical bonding are usually found in foods and must, therefore, be included as part of a healthy diet. In spite of this, many companies have started to manufacture antioxidant supplements to minimize the effects of oxidative stress.  In addition to dietary supplements, antioxidants can now be found in a plethora of cosmetic and therapeutic products.

As the race to cure cancer continues, clinical trials have revealed that antioxidants can significantly reduce the risk of lung cancer in smokers and the risks of prostate cancer in men. Likewise, antioxidants play a role in mitigating the effects of aging, especially in the skin, heart, brain, joints, and eyes. In addition to protecting the brain and heart from disease and damage, antioxidants are also crucial for maintaining a healthy immune system.  

While free radicals appear to be everywhere, we should consider ourselves fortunate that the remedy is so easy readily available. Besides for being an affordable solution to a major and universal dilemma, antioxidants can be obtained in a multitude of common sources around the globe. This simple fact hammers home how important and fundamental it is to maintain a balanced diet.  

Foods High in Antioxidants

It should come to no surprise that Nature is equipped to handle all our antioxidant needs. While supplements are on the rise, antioxidant-rich foods still reign supreme. Antioxidants are abundant in produce and are especially plentiful in vegetables. Moreover, they are found in some of the most common varieties of veggies, including potato, onion, spinach, artichoke, garlic, and sweet potato.

Antioxidants are also found in popular everyday fruits such as cherries, citrus varieties, tomatoes, prunes, and olives. However, the protective agents are most notably found in berries, especially blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, and goji berries. Likewise, many medicinal plants and spices have been found to be rich in antioxidants, such as cannabis, cardamom, neem, cinnamon, turmeric, curry leaf, black cumin, holy basil, fenugreek, cilantro, legumes, Ashwagandha, green & black tea, and ginger.  

Takeaways

  • New collaborative research and technology have uncovered the damaging effects of free radicals from both internal & external sources and the role antioxidants play in combating them.
  • Benefits of antioxidants include fighting aging, reducing the risk of cancer and other fatal diseases, protecting vision, preventing cognitive decline, and boosting overall immunity.
  • Reduce your exposure to external sources of free radicals, including UV rays, tobacco, asbestos, and radiation.
 
Thank for joining us here at Glacier Wellness!

 


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