Free radical damage. Antioxidants. Oxidative stress.
If you’ve been paying attention to anything health, wellness or beauty related we are sure you have come across these terms. We know that some fruits and vegetables (especially berries) are rich in antioxidants and help fight against free radical damage; that they are essential to good health and skin. But, what ARE antioxidants and what IS a free radical?
To understand what all this means, we need a brief science review. To be honest, the last time I took a science class was 10th grade Chemistry, so I needed this lesson on cell structure as well…nothing to be ashamed of
A free radical is a molecule that is missing an electron, which makes it unstable. In order to stabilize itself, this molecule tries to steel electrons from other normal cells, creating more free radicals. Smoking, UV rays, drugs, whether prescribed or recreational, radiation, environmental toxins, and processed food all help create these free radicals.
Your own body also naturally produces free radicals, through the process of oxidation, which has to do with your metabolism, and a result of when your immune system needs to neutralize viruses and infections. Naturally formed free radicals can easily be handled by our body and neutralized, but when you add the additional free radicals caused by outside forces like those mentioned above, sun exposure, pollution, medications, smoking, etc, this can cause havoc in your body.
It is normal to have free radicals floating around in your body, the problem is when there are too many. An excessive amount of free radicals leads to free radical damage, aka oxidative stress, which means:
- Aging, wrinkles, tissue damage
- Cell mutation and immune system damage
- Heart problems, cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s
This is where antioxidants come to the rescue! Antioxidants are molecules that generously give away their electron to stabilize free radicals. Now, you are probably thinking that that would make these antioxidant molecules free radicals too and the vicious cycle would continue. True, however antioxidants are weak and they die off on their own before causing any damage. That is what makes them the super heroes who fight against free radicals! There are many different types of antioxidants found in various foods that serve different purposes.
Here is a basic list of some great sources of antioxidants:
- Fruits and vegetables with deep colors, such as berries, spinach and broccoli
- Nuts: walnuts and pecans are the best, but all will provide you loads of antioxidants
- Supplements: although we recommend getting your antioxidant fix naturally, a good multi-vitamin should do.
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Here are 7 innovative ways to get your antioxidant fix in, your body and skin will thank you!
- Make it a smoothie. Try our GLOW SMOOTHIE recipe and it’ll be sure to become a favorite! The ingredients are easily modifiable.
- Top your cereal and oatmeal with berries, chia and pumpkin seeds
- Toss a fruit salad together for dessert, make sure to include loads of berries and deep colored fruits, like pomegranate.
- Snack on raw vegetables, like broccoli
- Go nuts! Remember to eat a handful of nuts daily, walnuts and pecans especially contain a high amount of antioxidants.
- Spice it up! Use spices such as turmeric, ginger and cloves in your cooking
- Brew some tea. Green tea in itself is super high in thearubigins, epicatechins, and catechins, which are all flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Try one of Nyure’s Ayurvedic Green Teas, they are packed full of flavor and antioxidants.