Antioxidants keep us healthy. They are our bodies natural defence against oxidative stress.
They protect our cells from free radical damage caused by factors such as fried foods, tobacco smoke, alcohol (yes it's true!!), air pollution and pesticides on the food we eat (if non organic). Free radicals are byproducts of oxygen metabolism that cause damage to our cells in a process called oxidative stress. They have a missing electron and seek to steal a partner electron from other cells, damaging them in the process. High levels of free radicals in our body are linked to diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
The vitamins and minerals our bodies use to counteract oxidative stress are called
antioxidants. They give free radicals the electron they need to stabilise them before they are able to damage our cells. You need antioxidants to be fit and healthy and when the balance is tipped in the favour of the free radicals and your antioxidant levels are too low, your health will suffer.
But how do you know what foods to eat and how much? It's not as easy as eating a wide variety of fruit and veg because, though a healthy food may be beneficial to us for many reasons, it may not contain a high level of antioxidants. Firstly you need to understand the ORAC score of a food type. The ORAC unit (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), measures the antioxidant capacity of different foods. Scientists and researchers state that the body can effectively use 3000-5000 antioxidant or ORAC units per day.
You need to eat the right foods to get enough antioxidants in your diet. For example a 100g helping of avocado has1922 units, 100g of blueberries has 2400 units and spinach has 1260 units, giving you 5582 units. You can make simple swaps in order to keep your levels at their optimum and this does require a bit of TIME and EFFORT, but I personally feel that there's nothing more important. What is life if not to enjoy it and make it as rewarding as it possibly can be? To experience it at our very best.
I hope this provides the basics for you to be able to do a bit of research about what foods you and your family like to eat and what their ORAC content is. You can then work out if youre getting the levels you need each day. If you have any further questions or want more information, then please post a comment. I will continue to add further posts, so keep checking in but if you want to know anything specific please let me know.