Free radicals are molecular marauders that damage cells and threaten your health. The best way to defend your body: Choose the most effective antioxidants to counteract the harmful oxidative power of these unstable health-destroyers.
Antioxidants are a class of nutrients and enzymes with the power to neutralize free radicals. We frequently hear about “free radicals” in health and anti-aging discussions, but many people don’t understand them. These caustic substances are dangerous, rogue molecules that wreak havoc on cells, tissues and organs by causing oxidative stress, increased toxic body burden, inflammation and cellular damage. The body generates these unstable molecules during normal metabolic processes, but they can also accumulate after exposure to toxins, stress, strenuous exercise or illness.
Free radical molecules are short of electrons, rendering them unbalanced and unstable. As a result, free radicals attack other molecules in their attempt to steal electrons, creating new free radicals and damaging cells, proteins, and critical genetic material. This destructive cycle halts when antioxidants arrive and offer electrons to the free radicals, thereby preventing oxidation and subsequent inflammation, cellular dysfunction, DNA mutations and other molecular mayhem. Many antioxidants offer specific anti-inflammatory benefits, detoxification support, reversal of cellular damage and other critical health-promoting actions.
While our bodies work hard to maintain a balance of important antioxidants, stress, illness and the onslaught of toxins can quickly deplete our stores. And during times of depletion, we need additional support.
If you do not have enough antioxidants to neutralize an excess of free radicals, widespread cellular damage can occur. Including antioxidant-rich foods in your diet is an excellent way to support your levels of these important nutrients and protect your health. Foods rich in sulfur compounds, such as garlic, onions and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, cauliflower) all help to boost the body’s production of glutathione, a crucial antioxidant. Beta carotene, lutein and vitamins A, C and E along with other phytonutrient antioxidants are concentrated in foods such as blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, plums, artichokes, black beans, prunes, pecans and other nutrient-rich fresh foods.
Because some free radicals naturally result from normal cellular actions, the body has ways of counteracting them by creating antioxidants that maintain overall health. This cellular creation of antioxidants often uses a protein called Nrf2 and Nrf2 activation triggers the production of the body’s most important antioxidants. Fortunately, certain foods also trigger the production of Nrf2. These include broccoli, turmeric, green tea, coffee and resveratrol (a polyphenol found in red wine).
Numerous dietary supplements provide excellent sources of high-powered antioxidants to support health and vitality. Keep in mind that many antioxidants perform best in combination with one another and often provide synergistic effects when used together.
The top recommended antioxidants that can help prevent and even reverse oxidative damage include:
- Vitamins C, A, E and D3.
- Lipoic acid.
- Beta-1, 3 glucans.
- Sea buckthorn.
- Purified Honokiol (extracted from Magnolia bark).
- Tibetan Herbal Formula.
Antioxidant-rich foods and supplements can significantly boost your levels of this critical class of nutrients and enzymes. By increasing antioxidant intake, many people report noticeable benefits: more energy, stronger immunity, improved cognitive function, reduced pain and inflammation, healthier skin, and other markers of vitality.
With guidance from a skilled integrative physician, supplemental antioxidants can be strategically incorporated into many allopathic (Western) treatment protocols to help increase benefits and reduce side effects. Whether you are looking for daily health support or want to step up your current therapeutic regimen, including antioxidant-rich foods and quality antioxidant botanicals and nutrients is an excellent way to promote long-term wellness naturally.