At 67 I still feel like a teenager. I know that part of it is attitude and the foods that I eat, but I also understand that a big piece of the anti-aging puzzle is making sure that you get all of the antioxidants that your body needs to stay as vital as possible. We all want to grow old gracefully. I’ve seen some of my friends go under the knife to get that youthful look while others (like me) opt for a more natural way to maintain that healthful glow. The way to make peace with age can be found in the types of foods that we eat and the miracle ingredient they contain.
The hidden “miracle” of antioxidants.
You can’t open a magazine or medical journal, search for healthy blog posts (like this) or see a product on the shelf (from hand cream to supplement pills) without seeing the words “contains antioxidants” or “antioxidant formula”.
What are antioxidants and what can they do to keep you looking your best?
Antioxidants are substances that fight the aging process that goes on in your body. They are not produced by the body so in order to get the most benefit out of these power-packed substances you must ingest them. There are a variety of foods containing antioxidants.
Back to the beginning.
The body continually replenishes its cells. Using a process called cellular metabolism, the body produces energy, more cells and repairs any damage. One by-product of cellular metabolism is unstable molecules called free radicals.
Free radicals are molecules that damage your body. They are unstable because they are missing an electron. To get another one and become stable, free radicals will steal electrons from cells. That theft damages the cells in a variety of ways.
The results are both visible and invisible changes to our bodies.
The development of diseases like cancer, diabetes, arthritis and neurological deficiencies may begin to affect you as you age. Look in the mirror and see thinner skin wrinkles and x-rays that show brittle bones are a problem. Free radicals enter our body from outside sources as well: cigarette smoke, radiation and the sun’s UV rays. The more free radicals we encounter, the greater the damage that can be done.
Antioxidants have been shown to be helpful in the free radical problem.
Antioxidant substances combine with free radicals and neutralize them. Once they are neutralized, they can no longer do any damage. Scientists don’t have any idea of a recommended daily dose of antioxidants to correct free radical damage and the diseases that come with age, but they do know that eating foods rich in antioxidants makes a huge difference in how we live.
Where do you find antioxidants?
They are all around us. Look no further than your local farmer’s market or produce aisle in the grocery store. Fruits and vegetables contain the principle sources of antioxidants.
Examples of antioxidants include:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
Certain minerals like zinc and selenium also function in the body. They are not antioxidants but they boost the immune system to fight against free radical damage.
You’ll find antioxidants in nuts, legumes, cold water fish, seafood and red meat.
So, eating a varied diet of fruits, vegetables and the foods just named will increase the amount of antioxidants in your system and help reduce the incidence of disease. Eating fruits and vegetables in their natural form instead of juices brings the benefit of other nutrients found in the foods. Juices also contain a lot of sugar that is not needed by your body.
Food does more than stave off hunger.
Natural substances found there can cause us to live longer and stay free of disease as we age.