While oxygen is an essential part of human existence, there are times when it can also be damaging. Oxidation is when oxygen combines with another material and leads to a negative outcome -- for example, fruits rot because of oxidation. Similarly, oxidation causes our body to age and degenerate. When the cells in the human body are exposed to free radicals, oxidisation takes place. In a nutshell, your ageing process depends on your ability to protect cells from oxidation.
Unfortunately, free radicals are all around us -- we're exposed to them daily through toxic chemicals that are absorbed through the skin or breathed in. Free radicals damage the tissues and are also known to affect memory, cause mood swings, wrinkles, hardening of the arteries, stiff joints and several other problems. While the human body is capable of handling a certain amount of free radicals, when your system gets overloaded, it affects your body's ability to cope and results in premature ageing and health issues.
Certain items which contain free radicals include junk food, sugar, white flour, canned, frozen or ready-made meals which have been processed, preservatives and food additives. Others include chemotherapy or radiation exposure, certain medications, coffee, tea, hydrogenated and saturated fat, fizzy drinks, certain household chemicals, cigarette smoke and alcohol. At your rescue are antioxidants, which are powerful nutrients, known to minimise the effects of free radicals.
They are present in plant foods and destroy free radicals. This, in turn, promotes the growth of healthy cells and keeps premature ageing at bay. One of the best things you could do to protect yourself is to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and seeds in your diet.
Nutrients that reduce free radical damage should be rich in vitamins C, E and vitamins B, flavonoid and beta-carotene. Here are some foods that are packed with antioxidants...
- Cranberries, blackberries, blueberries and citrus fruits are known to be full of antioxidants that promote collagen and reduce wrinkles.
- Protect your skin against sun damage by eating carrots and apricots.
- Green leafy vegetables, apples, oranges, cherries, beetroot, carrots, artichokes and strawberries have high quantities of copper, magnesium and selenium -- all necessary for healthy hair, nails and bones.
- Aloe vera raw gel, cold-pressed, contains approximately 75 minerals and vitamins, including B12, and 12 amino acids, essential for digestion and skin disorders.
- Raw nuts, dark fish and avocado are rich in EFA, omega-3, alpha- linoleic acid and selenium, which are known to keep premature ageing at bay and even improve memory.
- Papayas, sprouts, sweet potatoes, kiwi, broccoli, cabbage and spinach help detoxify your liver.
- To get a healthy complexion, drink plenty of water.
An antioxidant-rich diet is a must to help protect your body. Antioxidants are found in these foods:
- Unrefined and raw foods
- Fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, whole grains, beans, raw nuts and seeds
- Cold-pressed oils like flax, olive and canola.
- Sprouts and eggs
(Compiled by Zeenia F Baria)
© 2013 Bennett, Coleman & Company Limited