Antioxidants are chemicals that aid is reducing damage to cells. It does this by counteracting or neutralizing the damaging physiological effects of oxidation. Antioxidants are vitamins and minerals and enzymes, believed to play a role in the development of disease such as cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease.
The process of oxidation occurs when the production of free radicals, which are harmful molecules, is beyond the capability of the defense of antioxidants. A free radical is an active atom that is changed due to a lack of or excessive number of neutrons. They will have unpaired electrons, they are considered unstable and they will float throughout the body looking to donate or hold onto electrons. This process damages cells and proteins within the body. It is this same process that when you look at it from outside the body, will cause an apple to turn brown, or iron to rust.
Free radicals form from both inside and outside our body, and it is impossible to avoid damage from them. They develop from a process that we do every time we workout, aerobic respiration. Other causes are smoking, alcohol and pollution in the air.
Antioxidants stop oxidation and they neutralize free radicals. But as they do this, the antioxidants themselves become oxidized and therefore, we have a constant need to replenish the amount of antioxidants we have in our bodies.
Research has suggested that consumption and supplementation of antioxidants can help to reduce the effects of free radicals on our bodies. This could have the ability to slow down or prevent disease that results from cellular damage. By destroying free radical and reducing the cellular damage, antioxidants can aid in the following.
• Boost in immunity
• Prevent decline of the brain and nervous system
• Prevent cataracts and macular degeneration
• Promote cardiovascular health
• Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
When you exercise, oxygen consumption can multiply drastically leading to an increase in oxygen free radicals that will cause cell damage from muscle fatigue. The result is an increased need by your body for additional antioxidants, especially if you workout heavily. There are many types of antioxidants many foods they are found in. Here is a list of such foods where antioxidants can be found.
• Beans, pumkin seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans, flax seeds
• Blackberries, blueberries
• Vitamin A, synthesized by the body from beta-carotene. Carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and broccoli.
• Vitamin C is a water soluble compound. Sources of vitamin C include citrus fruit, strawberries, leafy veggies, green peppers, tomatoes and cabbage.
• Vitamin E, sources include: green leafy veggies, fish live oil, nuts, whole grains, seeds and vegetable oil.
• Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that is both water and fat soluble. Supplementation has shown to improve the health of gums and helps protect against the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
Exercise will increase the onset of free radicals in your body from an increase in oxygen usage. Because of this, the demand for antioxidants increases as well. You will be able to find them in a variety of whole foods as we have shown, and you can find them in an abundance of nutritional supplements as well.