Antioxidants Health Benefits: Aging, Longevity and Diet
What are antioxidants?
First, let's look at oxidation.
- Oxidation is a chemical reaction.
- Oxidation produces free radicals.
- Free radicals damage cells.
- The damaged cells promote unhealthy tissues, may lead to cancer, induce disorders and can speed the effects of aging.
- Antioxidants have the ability to slow and at times completely stop oxidation.
Interesting facts about the use of antioxidants in various therapies.
- Antioxidants are commonly used in patients suffering from brain injuries, including strokes. The antioxidants aid in preventing additional oxidative stress on brain tissue.
- Antioxidant research has provided positive outcomes in the treatment and potential prevention of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease.
- Blueberries for example, have been found to greatly improve our health in a variety of ways. Specifically with cognition, retinal health, cardiac health and weight control.
What are antioxidants? Antioxidants are a variety of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and general nutrients found in plant and some animal food products.
Some antioxidants include:
Diet and Aging
Aging, of course, happens daily. Aside from the changes found in our physical appearance: gray hair, yellowing teeth, wrinkled skin, vision problems and brittle bones, the body also begins to lose useful functions in the brain and heart. As we age, we tend to develop and become more susceptible to arthritis, osteoporosis, memory loss, heart disease, fluctuations of blood pressure and even cancer. These problems together with a broader waistline can induce a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome.
The years of an unhealthy diet can begin to take a toll, and as our body loses resiliency, we start to see cases of inflammation and a weakened immune system.
Before you throw your hands up in the air and succumb to unhealthy aging, there are some alternatives. Although were are not granted the time traveling luxury of starting all over again, we can begin each day with a healthy lifestyle and diet.
Antioxidants: Foods or Supplements?
We can all benefit from taking a multivitamin. However, a diet rich in all of our necessary nutrients is best. Although it is not always easy to attain all of the nutrients, we can begin to include these antioxidant-rich foods in our diet and supplement as needed. Always consult a physician about your consumption of supplements.
Incidentally, the American Heart Association does not recommend using antioxidant supplements. Instead, the AHA suggests a diet rich in a variety of healthy foods found in the primary food groups.
If mineral deficiencies are a concern, you may want to look into the following information on the effects of mineral deficiencies.
Foods with antioxidants
Note, some foods may be on more than one list due to the variety of properties they hold. This is a partial list of many foods containing antioxidants.
Vitamin C: citrus, blueberries, elderberry, mixed berries, green leafy vegetables, guava, kiwi, tomatoes, peppers, and broccoli.
Vitamin E: A variety of nuts and seeds, almonds, peanuts, and walnuts. Avocados and green leafy vegetables are also rich in vitamin E. Don't forget olives and wheat germ.
Carotenoids (lutein and lycopene): carrots, tomatoes, kale, passion fruit, and spinach.
Antioxidants and Aging
The health benefits of green tea can greatly improve life expectancy. Green tea has powerful cancer-fighting antioxidants and ingredients, which improve memory, cognition, cardiovascular health, and brain function
Stress is known to negatively affect the aging process. Consider adding relaxation techniques and moderate exercise to your lifestyle. It will improve serotonin levels, help you sleep better and improve your overall feelings of well being. Plus, stress can age your appearance. Lighten those pesky wrinkles with a radiant smile and a breath of fresh air.
Suggested Foods for Reducing the Signs of Aging
This is a general grouping of foods we should include in our daily diets.
Water: Necessary for hydration of the body and aids in flushing away toxins. Regular water consumption also improves complexion and radiance.
Yogurt: Yogurt is an excellent probiotic. Probiotics help maintain healthy digestion and adds beneficial bacteria to the digestive tract. Yogurt also provides the body with calcium.
Whole Grains: Fiber is a vital diet element. It provides bulk to stave off hunger, improves digestion, helps lower cholesterol and aids in controlling blood sugar.
Legumes: A variety of beans are a great source of protein, magnesium, and potassium. All of these are low in cholesterol and contain blood pressure lowering nutrients. Legumes are also rich in fiber and low in calories.
Nuts: Nuts are the perfect healthy snack or salad topper. They provide vitamin B and selenium. Plus, the fats found in nuts aid in maintaining skin structure and resiliency. So if sagging skin s driving you nuts, why not eat them instead? Use caution though; nuts are high in calories.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this hub should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. However, all information is research based. Please consult a physician for medical and dietary advice and treatment.
© 2012 Marisa Hammond Olivares