Antioxidants and Free Radicals
Antioxidants are extremely important substances for all of us to have in our diet. These chemicals are responsible for preventing oxidation of the cells in our body.
You may have observed the effects of oxidation on food after slicing a piece of fruit such as an apple. If you slice the apple in half, after a short period of time, you will notice the apple change its appearance and turns brown. That change to the apple is as a result of oxidation from free radicals. If you squeeze lemon juice onto the other half of the apple, you would see that the apple degrades and turns brown considerably slower. This is the result of applying an antioxidant, lemon juice, to the second half of the apple.
Free radicals are very reactive chemicals, which have the potential to harm the body’s healthy cells and speed up the ageing process. Our bodies normally produce free radicals through a number of processes in the body, such as during respiration, cellular metabolism and immune system activity. However, if antioxidants are not sufficiently available, these free radicals become excessive and out-of-control, and healthy cells suffer damage. This is severe enough to cause impaired immunity and DNA damage.
If the immune system becomes suppressed enough, cancer cells are not properly destroyed, which allows them to proliferate and grow unchecked.
Free radicals are everywhere and part of life, however you can reduce your exposure to the following things: cigarette smoke, car exhaust, pollution, heavy metals, artificial dyes and colors, ultraviolet radiation, radiation from microwave ovens, herbicides and pesticides.
Foods containing trans-fatty acids such as margarine, shortening, fried foods, cookies and pastries should be avoided as should processed foods and the charcoal produced from barbecuing meats.
We are not defenseless against all free radicals and their damage however, numerous studies have shown antioxidants reduce the risk for many types of human cancers. Further studies have shown that high doses of the antioxidant vitamin C is associated with lower rates of cancer especially of the mouth, larynx and esophagus.
By eating lots of good quality organic (if possible) antioxidant-rich fresh fruits and vegetables every single day, it is possible to protect ourselves from the effects of free radicals. You can also try creating fresh juices as a perfect alternative, as they retain healthy enzymes, vitamins and minerals. Note: Patients have survived cancer by juicing.
List of antioxidant rich foods:
Vitamin C - Oranges, berries, kiwi fruit, mangoes, broccoli, spinach, peppers
Vitamin E - Vegetable oils, nuts, avocados, seeds, whole grains
Zinc - Seafood, lean meat, milk, nuts
Selenium - Seafood, offal, lean meat, whole grains
Polyphenols - Thyme, oregano
Manganese - Seafood, lean meat, milk, nuts
Lycopene - Tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon
Lutein - Corn, leafy greens – ie. spinach
Lignans - Sesame seeds, bran, whole grains, vegetables
Indoles - Cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower
Flavonoids - Tea, green tea, red wine, citrus fruits, onion, apples
Cryptoxanthins - Red peppers, pumpkin, mangoes
Copper - Seafood, lean meat, milk, nuts, legumes
Catechins - Red wine, tea
Beta carotene - Pumpkin, mangoes, apricots, carrots, spinach, parsley
Anthocyanins - Eggplant, grapes, berries
Allium sulphur compounds - Leeks, onions, garlic
Our recommendation for protective antioxidant supplements which may assist in keeping your immune system strong are selenium, N-Acetyl Cysteine and Vitamin C.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.