At this time of year we can put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be healthier. We’re encouraged to start detoxing, eat superfoods, take supplements and antioxidants, and it can all be a bit overwhelming.
A diet high in antioxidants is a great place to start if you want to feel more assured that you’re getting what you need from your diet and may reduce the risk of many diseases (including heart disease and certain cancers).
Ok, so we know that including antioxidants in our diet has many benefits, but what exactly are antioxidants and why are they good for us?
Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in your body. Compounds that can cause you harm if the levels become too high. These compounds have been linked to illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer. They can also prevent or slow down damage to our cells.
Your body has its own antioxidants defences, but you can also find antioxidants in foods such as fruits, vegetables and other plant-based whole foods and several vitamins, such as vitamins E and C, are effective antioxidants.
But what are free radicals?
Free radicals are unstable molecules that our bodies produce in reaction to environmental and other pressure. Free radicals are continually being formed in your body. Without antioxidants, free radicals would cause serious harm quickly and would eventually lead to death.
But, free radicals also serve important functions that are essential for health. Your immune cells use free radicals to fight infection. As a result, your body needs to maintain a certain balance of antioxidants and free radicals. When free radicals outnumber antioxidants, it can lead to a state called oxidative stress, which can damage your DNA and other essential molecules in your body if prolonged. Damage to your DNA increases your risk of cancer, and some scientists have suggested it has a pivotal role in the ageing process.
Several lifestyle, stress, and environmental factors are known to promote excessive free radical formation and oxidative stress, including, air pollution, drinking alcohol, high blood sugar levels and bacterial, fungal, or viral infections.
Sources of antioxidants
The best place for your body to get antioxidants from are plant-based foods – especially fruit and vegetables. Foods that are exceptionally high in antioxidants are often referred to as “superfoods”.
Here are some foods that are great for giving you a boost of antioxidants:
The perfect addition to any breakfast bowl, blueberries are a rich source of antioxidants. They contain many phytochemicals, flavonoids (catechin, epicatechin), anthocyanin (which gives the blue pigment to the fruit), beta-carotene, phenolic compounds and ellagic acid (ellagitannin). Blueberry is high in antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin E, A and C. They are also a good source of dietary fibre. Several studies found that eating blueberries increases antioxidant activity in the blood as well as showing potential to prevent DNA damage.
According to Healthline, nuts are an antioxidant powerhouse. They may be high in fat, but they have impressive health benefits. Antioxidants, including the polyphenols in nuts, can combat oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals — unstable molecules that may cause cell damage and increase disease risk. Walnuts contain massive amounts of antioxidants. Pecans, chestnuts, peanuts, pistachios, and sunflower seeds are very rich in total antioxidants. Hazelnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, macadamias, pine kernels, cashew nuts, flax seeds, poppy seeds, and sesame seeds contain significant amounts of total antioxidants.
Dark Green Vegetables
We’re always being told to eat our greens. For a good reason, green vegetables are brimming with antioxidants phytochemicals such as kaempferol, which may help dilate blood vessels and may have cancer-fighting properties. Kale, spinach and broccoli are all packed with nutrients and antioxidants.
Tea is a very rich source of a specific kind of antioxidant called flavonoids and is said to have ten times the amount of antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables. The detoxifying effect of these antioxidants protects cells from free radicals.
The humble bean is the king when it comes to antioxidants. Beans are also one of the best vegetable sources of antioxidants. A FRAP analysis found that green broad beans contain up to 2 mmol of antioxidants per 3.5 ounces (100 grams).
In fact, beans provide a fantastic package of nutrients, including many vitamins and minerals. Green soybeans and soy provide vitamin C, calcium, zinc, and selenium. Lentils and black-eyed peas are rich in folate and zinc. Black beans and kidney beans also offer a good amount of folate. Baked beans on toast anyone?
An intramuscular antioxidant booster
Our intramuscular antioxidant booster contains Glutathione a potent antioxidant used by your body to help remove free radicals and toxins. Patients report increased energy, stamina and clearer skin, so if you’re looking to give yourself an antioxidant boost, take a look at our IV drips.