Antioxidants play a pivotal role in our body to resist and fight against various diseases like cancer, coronary artery disease, aging, cardiovascular disease, cataracts, etc. Antioxidants rich foods can be easily included in our diet. They help in boosting the immunity of our body which has become very important in this COVID-19 pandemic.
Just as hand sanitizers eliminate pathogens, and ensure you remain disease free, similarly antioxidants strive for the same motive. Antioxidants improve the resistance and fighting ability against pathogens. Antioxidants like vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E terminate oxidation chain reactions which could potentially harm our body.
What is an antioxidant?
A substance which inhibits the oxidation reaction is commonly known as an antioxidant. The main task of an antioxidant is to prevent stored food from deterioration by oxidation. In terms of chemical reactions, after the process of oxidation, free radicals are released which results in a set of chain reactions. These chain reactions have potential to damage the cells and the tissues of the human body. Here antioxidants play an important role, they fight with free radicals and stop further reaction and oxidation of food in your stomach.
How free radicals are formed?
Free radicals are produced in two ways, either internally as the by-product of metabolic activities in our body or externally by consumption of processed food, tobacco, alcohol, exposure to polluted environment, and ultraviolet rays which stimulates more free radicals in our body. When the digestive system processes the food we eat, it converts food into energy and the remaining wastage is nothing but free radicals. They need to be neutralized immediately. Otherwise, it can harm body cells resulting in oxidative stress.
The term oxidative stress means the state when there is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and subsequent antioxidants. Oxidative stress leads to heart diseases, cardiovascular diseases, gastric ulcers, and hypertension. Free radicals also contribute to the aging process. Increased release of free radicals can reduce your lifespan. So, intake of antioxidants can bless you with extra years, increasing your lifespan.
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The human body itself produces some antioxidants, like glutathione and lipoic acid, if you eat the right food at the right time. Thus, you need to eat the right amount of meals at the right time to ensure that our body produces these natural antioxidants. In addition to this, you need to provide some extra antioxidants to your body to keep you fit and healthy. For that, an intake of antioxidants externally is needed.
How to increase Antioxidant intake?
Food is the fuel for our body. The body reacts according to the fuel you provide to it. The only way to lead a free radical-free life is a healthy and balanced diet taken at right time. Vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E are common antioxidants. You can also include selenium, lycopene, beta-carotene, and lutein to the list of antioxidants. Green vegetables, fruits, dry fruits, and whole grains have the optimum amount of above antioxidants.
Sources of antioxidants
Mainly wheat, corn, and their food products contain lutein. Many leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli are also rich sources of lutein. You can include baby carrots in your diet which also contain lutein. Pistachios are also a great source of lutein.
Food items that are pink and red in color contain lycopene in high quantity. Tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, guava, mango are the fruits you can consider for the intake of antioxidants in your body. You can include red cabbage and red bell peppers in your everyday diet to increase lycopene intake.
Fish, eggs, chicken, mushrooms are rich sources of selenium. Brown rice, oats, milk and other milk products like yogurt, cashew nuts, spinach, bananas are also a good source of selenium for our bodies.
It is also known as Pro Vitamin A. Our body is capable of converting beta-carotene to vitamin A, and hence the name Pro Vitamin A. Many spices like coriander, peppers, chili, and paprika contain beta carotene. Dark green leafy vegetables like cilantro and spinach, peas, sweet potatoes, carrots, and broccoli are the best and richest source of beta- carotene.
Vitamin E protects body cells from oxidative stress and helps you to be fit and healthy. Kiwifruit, almonds, peanuts, and mango are rich sources of vitamin E. Meat, pine nuts, almond oil, and sunflower oil are also rich sources of vitamin E. Apart from addition of antioxidants to your body, vitamin E also has a major role in muscle building.
6) Vitamin C
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. Citrus foods and fruits are the richest sources of vitamin C. They include oranges, lemons, strawberries, tomatoes, papayas, etc. Potatoes (with skin), cauliflower, and grapefruit juice are also rich in vitamin C, so include them in your diet and see the changes in your health. The optimum levels of vitamin C are required in our body to prevent scurvy.
Vitamin A is found in three forms namely, retinol, retinal and retinoic acid. Cod liver oil, beef liver oil are the richest sources of vitamin A for non-vegetarians. Those who prefer to be vegetarian can go with carrots, spinach, pumpkins, mangoes, peppers, and broccoli. Tomatoes and peas are also good sources of vitamin A.
You might have observed while reading, most of the sources of antioxidants are easily available. So choose wisely and keep your food plate colorful, and healthy.
Some Worthy Lines
Ayurveda, an ancient medical science, unlocks the secret of a healthy body. It says, “food itself is a medicine if taken wisely”. Our body is designed the way to accept and process natural and simple food. So if you have less processed and more natural food on time, it works as a medicine for your body. Processed food makes the system of the body confused and hence health-related issues arise.
Health depends totally upon the food you eat. Even it is said that what you eat defines your mental ability and physical ability. Yet, unfortunately, these days health is the most neglected aspect of our idle life. Improper sleep, processed and stored food are parts of our life.
But it is time to focus on your health. Your body needs natural food. The body has made up to digest the food which is prepared according to natural intelligence. Don’t break the rules, because only you will suffer.
Eat better, live better.