5 NATURAL ANTIOXIDANTS YOU MUST HAVE IN YOUR PANTRY.
NATURAL ALLIES AGAINST FREE RADICALS.
More and more often we are remembered of the paramount importance of a diet rich in natural antioxidants, useful to protect our cells by free radical attack and hence, from premature ageing.
The antioxidant words is daily also used as an advertising slogan for beauty products , often presented as a true “elixir of youth”. But what exactly are antioxidants? And because their action can be so important for our body ?
The role of antioxidants is definitely recent. The effect of antioxidants against free radicals is critical to preserve not only the youth and beauty of our body, but also to maintain a good state of health generally and prevent different types of disorders.
The concept of free radicals was first discovered by biogerontologist Denham Harman in 1954, while researching an explanation for aging. Free radicals are naturally produced by your body as a result of normal metabolism and energy production. They are your natural biological response to environmental toxins like cigarette smoke, sunlight, chemicals, cosmic and manmade radiation, and are even a key feature of pharmaceutical drugs.
FREE RADICALS: WHAT THEY ARE AND HOW THEY ACT
All the cells of our body need oxygen to live, however, it is precisely the oxygen molecules that can produce, in the course of particular chemical reactions, free radicals . The free radicals are just other ions produced by the responsible cells, as well as from early ageing, from the weakening of the immune system and from the onset of certain diseases .
Free radical molecules are missing one or more electrons, and this missing electron is responsible for biological oxidation. These incomplete molecules attack other molecules in order to replace their missing parts. These reaction is called “oxidation” a biological rusting, an effect caused by too much oxygen in your tissues.
Free radicals act by damaging the cell structures such as plasma membranes and DNA and their action has a negative impact on the health of the whole organism . In fact, the vast majority of researchers studying free radicals believed that these molecules contribute to cause 90% of degenerative diseases facing humanity.” (H. Sharma, Free Radicals. How to fight them to prevent ‘ aging and disease , Milan 2001).
Free radicals are linked to over 60 different diseases, including:
- Parkinson’s disease
- alzheimer’s disease
THE 6 FACTORS THAT INCREASE THE SYNTHESIS OF FREE RADICALS
We can therefore say that the process of cell ageing , or better to say the production of free radicals, is nothing more than a physiological consequence of some metabolic reactions necessary for the very life of the cells. It is cannot therefore be eliminated altogether.
However, there are some factors that can increase the production of free radicals and the cellular destruction and then determine a premature ageing. The main factors are:
- active and passive smoking, and air pollution ;
- unbalanced nutrition, high in fat and with excessive consumption of alcohol ;
- excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays ;
- prolonged periods of psycho-physical stress ;
- prolonged intake of drugs,
- prolonged aerobic exercise
Exercise , in particular that of aerobic type, if practiced in excess. It can increase the production of free radicals too; however it is important to point out that regular physical activity can promote the disposal processes of oxidizing agents, optimizing the action of endogenous antioxidants or the defense mechanisms developed by the body. So exercise is also useful for combating premature aging as long as we do not fall into exaggeration.
The first noticeable signs of the action of free radicals are primarily external: this is why it can happen to notice their negative effects on the skin of a smoker or a person who exposes frequently to sunlight or UV lamps .
SUN EXPOSURE AND FREE RADICALS
In summertime, about 20-30% of total daily ultraviolet rays that reach the earth’s surface is received in the hour around noon when the sun is at its Zenith, while the 75% of the total radiation reaches the Earth’s surface between 9 am and 3 in the afternoon. During these hours you should avoid exposure to the sun without protection for prolonged periods.
Sunlight may in fact increase the normal presence of free radicals after only 15 minutes of sun exposure ! There are certainly natural biological mechanisms of defense, able to counteract the damage induced by UV rays, yet the cells possess a limited antioxidant heritage, which is not enough to buffer the adverse effects caused by improper and prolonged exposure.
THE BEST ANTI FREE RADICAL ALLIES: CHOOSE YOURS BETWEEN THESE 5 NATURAL ANTIOXIDANTS!
This is where antioxidants must come in.
Antioxidants act basically as electron donors. They break the free radical chain reaction by sacrificing their own electrons to feed free radicals, without turning into free radicals themselves.
Antioxidants provide your cells with adequate defense against attack by reactive oxygen species (ROS). As long as you have these micronutrients, your body will be able to resist aging caused by your everyday exposure to pollutants. If you don’t have an adequate supply of antioxidants you are at risk of oxidative stress leading to accelerated tissue and organ damage.
First step to combat presence of free radicals in the body is to adopt a healthy balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle (avoiding the triggers of oxidative stress that we talked about earlier).
The main sources of antioxidants are foods, especially fruits and vegetables : eating fresh fruits and vegetables of all colors helps fight free radicals, harmful molecules that attack our cells every day and who are responsible for degenerative diseases and cell ageing.
But sometimes, because of the hectic pace of everyday life or of the adopted cooking methods , you can not always take with diet alone sufficient doses of antioxidants to help the cells of our body to cope with free radicals.
Often also external factors (stress, overwork, intake of medicines etc) can expose us to a surplus of free radicals. In these cases it is possible to enhance the defense mechanisms against free radicals put in place by the body (endogenous) by taking natural antioxidants, in the form of specific supplements.
The antioxidants provided by nature are different, but among the 5 most effective and exploited in herbal medicine there are certainly the following:
1) GOJI BERRIES
The goji berries have for centuries been prized in the East for their remarkable properties; also known as “long-life fruit”, these powerful natural antioxidants ” fight cellular aging , counteracting the damaging action of free radicals, primarily responsible for oxidative stress.”
GOJI BERRIES IN CHINESE MEDICINE
Natural antioxidants, the goji berries in the East are heavily used not only as a powerful natural antioxidant. Their virtues were also disclosed in the oldest Chinese medical treatise: the Pen Tsao Ching. Still to this day the berries’ are widely used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of certain prostate problems.
2) ACAI BERRIES
The acai berries are the fruit of “Euterpe oleacea” , a palm tree native to Brazil but now cultivated throughout South America. The purple fruit of this plant, similar to wine grapes , as well as being powerful natural antioxidant, can support the metabolism of lipids and carbohydrates and be good allies of slimming diets. In fact, to them are attributed various healing properties due to the particular richness of anthocyanins, a class of very potent antioxidants .
The fruit of the plant plan of the pomegranate (Punica granatum) originated in Persia are appreciated since ancient Egypt for their therapeutic properties; in particular from the seeds it is obtained an oil with antioxidant rich in vitamin C, E, polyunsaturated fatty acids”. It is no coincidence that the fruit of the pomegranate has traditionally been used in different traditions as auspicious symbol of fertility and well-being .
4) GREEN TEA
The multiple properties of green tea have been known and exploited for centuries and its fame has come down to our days from
the time of ‘ Ancient China . The leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis , in fact, in the variety of green tea remain intact their polyphenol content , “compounds with strong antioxidant power (at least as that of vitamin E) In addition, green tea not only acts by itself as an antioxidant, it stimulates the antioxidant mechanisms of the organism.
The resveratrol is a substance belonging to the family of polyphenolic compounds present in various substances and food (wine grapes, wine, some seeds Olesi like peanuts). The most important natural source of resveratrol however is the Polygon of Japan (Polygonum cuspidatum ), very exploited in herbal medicine for its antioxidant properties.
In the market you can find supplements in the formulation of which resveratrol is extracted from Polygon of Japan, used in synergy with plants such as rose hip, grape seeds and acerola (effective natural antioxidants) which potentiate the action .
Until next time.