Chalkboard Lessons # 3
First the sciencey bit: Antioxidants are the antidote to free radicals.
Free radicals, if not stabilized, will age us quickly, wrinkle our skin, and cause all sorts of health issues not immediately obvious to the eye. There is a hefty price to pay for allowing free radicals living space in our bodies.
Free radicals cause oxidative damage. Oxidative damage plays a major role in the degeneration of muscle and tissue, and is the basis of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and any other illness.
The free radical is an oxygen molecule that has lost an electron thereby making it unstable. It attempts to redress this imbalance by stealing an electron from a healthy molecule and this is how damage occurs.
Antioxidants provide the extra molecule the free radical lacks, therefore stabilizing them and halting the need for any more electron theft.
How to zap those free radicals
Avoiding free radicals is a challenge , as Dr Edward Group explains, “We are exposed to free radicals as a normal by-product of regular bodily processes, like breaking down the food we eat, taking toxic medicines, as well as through exposure to pollutants. In addition, over-exposure to the sun (sunburn) and smoking can also increase our body’s need to oxidize and create free-radicals.''
So if we can’t avoid them completely, we can lesson the amount we expose ourselves to.
Better still we can dip into the veritable treasure trove of available antioxidants and zap those pesky FR’s.
Upping the ‘anti’
Much has been written about the antioxidant benefit of berries, grapes, and red wine, but there are many more antioxidant rich foods. Eating a diet compromising mostly of fruit and vegetables will ensure a firm foundation for future health. Especially if we consume a large proportion raw.
It is the resveratrol contained in red wine, that has the antioxidant benefit but sadly, it is somewhat compromised by the anti nutrient effect of alcohol. Better to get it straight from the grape vine, or take as a liquid supplement.
The beauty with resveratrol is that it crosses the blood brain barrier so can do some free radical scavenging in the brain cells themselves. Resveratrol is also present in another much loved food – chocolate.
Chocolate as an antioxidant has been touted about for a while now, but RAW chocolate is the key. Unprocessed, as nature intended -without the milk and sugars that commercial brands add. The higher the cacao percentage the better, but this is still not actually raw.
Cacao nibs are the most potent way to consume it, added to smoothies or sprinkled on desserts. The beauty of our bodies is that with just a little retraining they will adjust to any new taste. Provided we are getting the nutrients needed to feed and satiate, it is impossible to over eat. It is the processed, packaged and antioxidant stripped foods that falsely fill (temporarily) and under nourish.
The best oil to cook with as it remains stable at high temps. This means it does not oxidate or promote free radicals. Olive and hemp oil also have antioxidant qualities when used unheated. Light and heat cause oxidation in most oils, which is why so many are bottled in dark glass.
OTHER brilliant antioxidants
Of course anything straight from nature rarely has just one beneficial action. All of the above are high in nutrients and fully deserve to be classed as super foods.
To summarize: the more antioxidants we consume, the more rapidly we heal inside, and the brighter we glow on the outside. The power of antioxidants is such that they prevent damage, but in time they can also reverse it.