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Food

Antioxidants And Your Health

‘Boasting the highest ORAC values of all natural foods - Maqui Berries are packed with free radical fighting antioxidants!’

 

Free radicals?! Is that some kind of anarchist group?! And what’s an ORAC? And now that we mention it, what exactly are antioxidants...and why should YOU care?!

Many years ago, I met an Indian Yogi who was training to be able to arrest his breathing almost indefinitely. His goal was to be able to stay in a state of suspended meditation without expelling a single breath for up to six months at a time. When asked why, he explained ‘animals that breathe too quickly have a shorter lifespan, but a tortoise breaths very slowly and can live for over a hundred years. Breathing provides our body with oxygen which burns fuel to give us energy, but this process also damages our cells and causes us to age.’

So basically all you have to do to stay young is - not breathe! However, if arresting your breath indefinitely is not really an option for you, there are other ways by which you can slow down the body’s aging process and antioxidants are said to do just that!

 

Free Radicals

To understand the role of antioxidants in our body, we must first understand the concept of free radicals. These are a potential hazard your body faces every day.

Free radicals are formed in the body when food is converted into energy and during oxidation. Oxidation is the loss of electrons by a molecule, atom or ion during a chemical reaction. A reaction involving oxygen, like the burning of a fire, the rusting of metal or an apple turning brown once it is cut open are examples of oxidation. These types of reactions happen in our bodies all the time - creating free radicals. External factors such as air pollution, radiation and even the action of sunlight on our skin can be a source of free radicals.

They are considered to be a significant threat to our wellbeing because they attack healthy cells in our body. They change the structure of the cell membranes, which affects the flow of what enters and what leaves the cell. They create LDL (bad cholesterol) and can even alter the information of our DNA.

There are a number of different variations of free radicals and they are all highly unstable. Free radicals are missing electrons and this is what makes them attack and damage our cells and DNA - they need to balance themselves by grabbing their missing electrons from other sources.

Simply put, free radicals are thieves which are trying to steal your healthy cells' swag!

 

Antioxidants Berries

 

Antioxidants
The body has a number of ways to keep fighting the constant onslaught by free radicals. One way to help it is by getting  electron-rich free radical fighters from food sources and these are commonly called antioxidants. There are numerous forms of antioxidants – Beta-carotene, Lycopene, certain types of Phytochemicals, Selenium, Vitamin A, C and E are some of the familiar ones. They're understood to help keep your cells whole and healthy.

ORAC
ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. The ‘ORAC score’ is a measure of the antioxidant capacity of a food. The higher the ORAC, the more antioxidants. It is believed that foods with a high ORAC score are more effective in neutralizing free radicals. However, it is important to note that research on the subject is by no means conclusive and has yet to provide concrete relationships to health benefits. ORAC scores should thus be considered as a guide and not an absolute indicator of the health benefits of a food.

 

Fresh Organic Vegetables

What The Research Say

Numerous studies are being conducted regarding the disease fighting benefits of specific antioxidants. The results are quite varied and may not always live up to the hype created by some health food marketers. It would take years of clinical trials and tests for concrete data. Until then, this is what we do know – each type of antioxidant has different qualities and plays a slightly different role in our health and wellbeing. So far no individual superheroes can be confidently determined - they are all part of a family i.e. they are probably most effective in a combination with other nutrients. There is a general consensus that antioxidants together with the minerals, vitamins, fiber and other substances found in fruits and vegetables can help prevent a variety of chronic diseases. This is why it is so important to have a balanced diet with a wide variety of fresh and colourful fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds - which is surely much easier than not breathing!

 

Read more: All About Superfoods

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