The Essentials–Antioxidants

Oxidation is what causes the flesh of a cut apple to turn brown.  Most researchers today believe that oxidation is what causes the body to deteriorate and develop degenerative diseases as we age.  Free radicals cause inflammation throughout the body, and antioxidants are needed to quench these inflammatory “fires”.  It is estimated that 50 to 80% of chronic disease, including cancer, arthritis, macular degeneration, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and dementia, are caused by oxidative stress, also known as free radical damage.  This same oxidative stress contributes to dry skin, wrinkles, age spots, and other signs of aging.

The good side of oxidation is that it helps break down what we eat and convert it into energy, as well as breaking down toxins to be eliminated.  Oxidation also helps our immune system to destroy microbes and fight infections.  So what’s the problem?

Antioxidants are needed to keep oxidation in check, acting as the body’s cooling system.  These are abundant in fresh, unprocessed plant foods.  Fresh wheat contains the antioxidant vitamin E, which begins to deteriorate within a few days after grinding, leaving it vulnerable to free radical damage.  This may be one reason wheat allergies are so common.   Lemon juice contains vitamin C, an antioxidant that prevents the cut apple from turning brown.   Foods like refined sugar, white flour, hydrogenated oil, trans fats, and chemical additives, contribute to damaging inflammation.  Without enough antioxidants to cool these “fires”, you may begin to experience chronic aches and pains, fatigue, constipation, headaches, weight gain, difficulty concentrating, gum disease, etc.  Instead of suppressing these warning signs with medications, cool the body with antioxidants.  The best source is your diet!  Unfortunately, Americans are eating highly inflammatory diets, and as a result, are suffering from chronic, degenerative diseases.

Eat a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in every color.  Organically and locally grown are your best choices.  Locally grown produce, in season, usually has to be treated with less chemicals to preserve it.  Also, the farther it is shipped, the greater the nutrient loss.  Each color group has its own types of disease-fighting chemicals, protecting the body’s DNA from damage.  Aim to cover your plate at each meal with 40 to 50% of fresh vegetables and fruits.  Add vegetables to salads, soups, sauces, etc. Squeeze fruit juice into your drinking water–lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange, tangerine, kiwi.  Cook with fresh herbs, garlic, onions, and ginger.  Eat sprouts, which are highly nutritious.  Add a variety of raw nuts and seeds to your daily diet.  Snack on antioxidant-rich foods.  Your body will thank you!

If you are not regularly eating at least five to seven servings of fresh and/or frozen produce daily, you might need to consider supplementing with a good antioxidant.  Some recommendations from Nature’s Sunshine:  Co-Q10, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Thai-Go, Super ORAC, Super Antioxidant, and Sunshine Heroes Whole Foods Antioxidant.  To learn more about these antioxidants:

Keep learning to be healthy!  Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist,


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