What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are compounds in foods that search for and neutralise free radicals produced by the ever present process of oxidation in the human body. Therefore, antioxidants are vital to prevent some of the damage caused by free radicals.
Oxidation, a natural chemical process happening all the time in the body, occurs on the cellular level when an atom loses electron(s) during chemical interactions with other atoms, and as a result may become a free radical (i.e. an unstable chemical molecule).
Free radicals damage cell membranes (especially phospholipids), LDL cholesterol and many other body structures including DNA. The body can cope with some free radicals and even needs them to function effectively.
However, the damage caused by an overload of free radicals over time may become irreversible and lead to certain illnesses including heart disease, liver damage and some cancers.
Free radicals production can be accelerated by stress, poor diet, cigarette smoking, alcohol, environmental pollution and other factors. Some of the degenerative conditions caused by free radicals include:
- Increased risk of coronary heart disease, since free radicals encourage LDL cholesterol to stick to artery walls
- Inflammation of the joints associated with arthritis
- Damage to nerve cells in the brain which contributes to conditions such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease
- Acceleration of the ageing process
- Certain cancers triggered by damaged cell DNA
- Deterioration of the eye (cataracts)
Antioxidants are absolutely essential for the body to be healthy and perform well. Many antioxidants are vital for the immune system function and the reduction of oxidative stress as an inflammatory trigger. One of the most important applications of antioxidants is their anti-ageing properties.
Sources of antioxidants
Plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and wholegrains but also some meats, poultry and fish, are rich sources of antioxidants. Excellent sources of specific antioxidants include:
Fat soluble antioxidants
Vital for cardiovascular health, cancer prevention, immunity, fertility, eye health. Examples include:
- Vitamin E – vegetable oils (such as wheat germ oil), avocados, nuts, seeds and whole grains
- Vitamin A (only present in animal foods)– liver, cream, egg yolks, butter, cod liver oil
- Beta-carotene (plant form of vitamin A) – pumpkin, carrots, mangoes, apricots, spinach, parsley
- Lutein – green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, parsley
- Lycopene – tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon, guava
- Cryptoxanthin – red capsicum, pumpkin, mangoes
- Always have the above foods with a fat containing meal as fat facilitates absorption and utilisation of antioxidants
Water soluble antioxidants
Key importance for cancer prevention, cardiovascular health, immunity, connective tissue support (e.g. joints, muscles), and to decrease inflammation. Examples include:
- Vitamin C – oranges, blackcurrants, kiwifruit, mangoes, broccoli, spinach, capsicum, rose hip tea
- Sulphur compounds – onions, garlic, leeks, cabbage
- Anthocyanins (black and purple pigments) – eggplant, grapes, berries, black beans
- Catechins – red wine, black and green tea
- Flavonoids – citrus fruits, red wine, onions, apples, black and green tea
- Indoles – cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts
- Isoflavonoids – organic tofu, natto, lentils, peas
- Lignans – sesame seeds, flaxseeds, whole grains, starchy vegetables, broccoli, chia seeds
- Polyphenols – present in herbs including in thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage, peppermint, as well as in extra virgin olive oil
Vital for cancer prevention, immunity, cardiovascular health, brain and neuroprotection, fertility, connective tissue health, enzyme functions (as cofactors). Examples include:
- Copper – seafood (especially oysters), organ meats (liver), most nuts and seeds, buckwheat
- Manganese – tea, spices (cloves and cardamom), ginger, wheat germ, leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds
- Selenium – Brazil nuts (the richest source), organ and muscle meats, fish and shellfish, broccoli, mushrooms
- Zinc – oysters, red meat and organ meats, eggs, nuts (pecans and Brazil nuts), pumpkin seeds, legumes, ginger and chili
Herbal antioxidants – found in fresh and dried herbs. Examples include:
- Turmeric – for cancer prevention, strongly anti-inflammatory, liver protective
- Resveratrol (red grapes, red wine) – anti-ageing, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, prevents blood clots, brain and neuroprotective, blood sugar regulating. Protects blood vessels against atherosclerosis
- Grape seed – for cardiovascular health, cancer prevention, varicose veins support, blood sugar balancing, skin health (supports collagen)
- Green tea – for cancer prevention, cardiovascular health, liver protection, anti-inflammatory, promotes weight loss, mood enhancing. Reduces the risk of oesophageal, stomach, colon and bladder cancer (in human studies)
Animal derived antioxidants
Found in red meat and organ meats such as liver (must be organic and/or grass fed) and wild fish. Antioxidants in meats are also derived from the plants animals eat.
Antioxidants (electrons) present in the electrolysed reduced water (ERW)
Electrolysed reduced water (also referred as ionised water) is produced by the Kangen Water® technology (among others) when the tap water is exposed to an electric current which separates the charged particles. Positively-charged ions are drawn to the negative electrode. Negatively-charged ions are drawn to the positive electrode. Both types of ions have beneficial properties.
In the process ionisation process hydrogen ions (molecular hydrogen) are produced, that act as powerful antioxidants. In fact, these are the best antioxidants found in nature for the human body. They are small and light and thus have the capacity to reach the inside of cells and, importantly, get to the mitochondria, making them more efficient in energy production for all life processes in the body.
Therefore, Kangen Water® has an excess number of best type of electrons that can neutralise the free radicals responsible for pain, inflammation, disease processes in the body, damage to tissues, and many symptoms. Since free radicals are a big part of every disease and a known part of the aging process, having an easy, reliable, affordable and the highest quality source of antioxidants daily is key to having your body working optimally!
Research on ERW is a growing and fascinating area to follow as the benefits of ionised water are not well-known at present, and they need to be. After all our bodies are 75% water, and ERW / Kangen Water® allows us to dramatically change and improve 75% of the body to then facilitate detox, better nourishment and more energy, leading to significantly improving or healing of many chronic disorders.
There is so much to tell about this water technology and how it can help the vast majority of people suffering from modern diseases. You’ll be hearing more about ERW / Kangen Water® from me soon! In the meantime you can read about it HERE.
Antioxidants (electrons) directly from the Earth
Earthing or grounding by walking barefoot on grass or sand is a great source of free antioxidants as electrons from the Earth have antioxidant effects on the body. Studies have shown that earthing improves blood viscosity, heart rate variability, reduces inflammation, sleep, autonomic nervous system (ANS) balance, and reduces effects of stress. Find out more HERE.
There is increasing evidence that antioxidants are more effective when obtained from whole, organically grown foods, rather than isolated from a food and presented in tablet form. The best way to get a great variety of antioxidants in the diet is to eat deeply coloured plant foods every day as each colour indicates unique antioxidant properties. Purple and black coloured foods are especially valuable.
As a bonus, foods high in antioxidants are also high in fibre and are excellent sources of other vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. However, in certain cases taking a high quality antioxidant supplements for a period of time is also highly beneficial as it will considerably speed up healing and regeneration.
My clinical experience shows that more than 80% of patients do not consume the recommended 1-2 servings of fruits and 3-5 servings of vegetables each day, and thus they don’t get the necessary antioxidant protection.
Simple steps of modifying and expanding your eating habits to include food-based antioxidants will make a huge difference to the way you feel, think and behave!
Good health and blessings
Holistic Health and Lifestyle Therapist
Natural and Lifestyle Solutions for Chronic Diseases
Cover photo credit: Shutterstock
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- Top 3 herbal teas to feel and look great!
- How to drink enough water daily and improve your health: dehydration
- Cooked vs raw vegetables – 3 veggies that are more nutritious when cooked
- Top 7 natural antibiotics for flu, colds and coughs
Joanna Sochan is a Natural Therapist and founder of Naturimedica Holistic Health & Wellness. She has a passion for helping her clients transform their lives by becoming healthy and well naturally. Joanna is a fatigue, sleep and gut health expert helping tired, stressed or unwell individuals to regain their energy, sleep better and be happier, more relaxed and calm. Joanna practices in Sydney and Lake Macquarie, Australia and also conducts online consultations for clients Australia-wide. View full bio.