What are antioxidants? What do they do and why they are so important
Date Posted:26 March 2017
Let me start by really explaining antioxidants. What they are, what do they do and why they are so important.
What are free radicals?
The body is constantly producing what’s known as ‘free radicals’. Free radicals are highly unstable molecules that are produced during normal metabolic functions in the body. Even the healthiest person creates free radicals every day. If you think back to your high school chemistry days, and you remember how unstable molecules are always looking for something to attach to, to make them more stable? If not, then think of it like this:
Free radicals are running around in the body, but they don’t like to be on their own, so they are always looking for someone to hang on to. That ‘someone’ is a cell in your body. So, the free radical sees your cell and attaches itself to it. The free radical, being the little devil that it is, begins to attack the cell. After a while, the cell will eventually die. If this continues to happen, you would have no healthy cells left! This is where antioxidants come in and why they are so important. Antioxidants are the good guys. You want to have plenty of these around because they can act as a decoy, resulting in the free radical attaching to the antioxidant instead of your cell. Leaving your cells to continue on with their normal functioning and cycle.
Cells in the body are continuously dying and being replaced with new cells. When we are young, this process happens readily and easily. As we get older, the rate of new cell turn over decreases. So, you have cells dying at a rate that exceeds the rate of new cell growth. This is when we start to age (and why recovery from alcohol is so much harder when you’re older! Your cells physically can’t keep up).
Lifestyle & habits
So, we know that free radicals occur naturally even in the healthiest person, so what if we then add to their diet and lifestyle the following: sugar, alcohol, stress, lack of sleep, take away food, air pollution… the list goes on, and even those that are health conscious can not completely eradicate all free radical contributors. This why is it is so important to get as many antioxidants in through the diet as possible, to negate the effects of free radical damage.
Where can I get my antioxidants from?
The highest concentration are found in plants with a dark pigment. For example, blueberries, purple cabbage, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, beetroot… the list goes on. A good rule of thumb to follow is the RAINBOW rule. Have a vegetable of each colour on your plate to make up red, yellow, orange, green, purple… and blue? Maybe just blueberries for that category..! :) Antioxidants can also be sourced from organic turmeric powder, matcha tea powder, organic green tea as well as green energy powders.
But wait, what about acai berry?? This little beauty rates amongst the highest on the orac scale (measure of antioxidants contained). It has become very popular in the last 10 years, as it is such a powerhouse of antioxidants. For anyone that struggles to get all of their rainbow veggies in one day, adding some acai berry powder is an easy way to significantly boost your antioxidant intake and support healthy cell turn over for a more beautiful complexion and increased energy. You can check out out Nutra Organics Acai Berry Blend and delicious recipes here.