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Antioxidants - Understanding and Implementation

Aug 20, 2008
Cut an apple and leave half on the counter and as you know it turns brown. This is a result of oxidation. Rust on your car is due to oxidation. Oxidation is the interaction between oxygen molecules and all the different substances they may contact, from metal to living tissue. Sometimes oxidation is not such a bad thing, as in the formation of super-durable anodized aluminum. Other times oxidation can be destructive, such as the rusting of an automobile or the spoiling of fresh fruit. The process of oxidation depends on the amount of oxygen present in the air and the nature of the material it touches. True oxidation happens on a molecular level -- we only see the large-scale effects as the oxygen causes free radicals on the surface to break away.

So, what has this got to do with your health? Well, when a man oxidizes, we call it aging and sometime cancer. Antioxidants counter this process. Nature gave us foods for our DNA to handle oxidation of our cells. The Stone Age population was hunter-gatherers and looked for colorful foods - up to 150 in variety throughout the seasons. These foods provided antioxidants. Anthropologists have stated that Harry and Sally of the Stone Age did not die of diabetes, cancer, heart attacks or stroke. They died from some traumatic event instead.

If Harry and Sally were alive today, they wouldn't believe how limited in variety our food is today and more importantly, they would be stunned at how the antioxidants in what we do eat have been purged by processing.
If you want to reverse oxidation for you and your family, eat color fruits and vegetables from these groups:

1. RED includes but is not limited to:
Pink Grapefruit
Watermelon
Tomato

2. GREEN includes but is not limited to:
Bok Choy
Cabbage
Broccoli

3. GREEN/YELLOW includes but is not limited to:
Avocado
Spinach
Corn

4. RED/PURPLE includes but is not limited to
Blueberries
Red Apples
Grapes

5. ORANGE includes but is not limited to
Carrots
Cantaloupe
Mangos

6. ORANGE/YELLOW includes but is not limited to
Oranges
Pineapples
Peaches

7. GREEN/WHITE includes but is not limited to
Celery
Pears
Onions

FREE RADICALS can damage many molecules before the chain reaction loses steam and plays itself out. Antioxidants step in and stop the chain reaction. Antioxidants from the color in fruits and vegetables, as well as vitamins, try to keep us healthy by capturing as well as reversing the effect of free radicals.

If you are not getting enough fruits and vegetables, supplementation with antioxidants is highly suggested. Afterall, unless you are buying at the farm stand, you are not sure what has been bioengineered or otherwise altered that may reduce the fruit or vegetables' ability to protect you. I believe in supplementation. You just have no way of knowing the level of free radicals and antioxidants in your body at any given time. Free radicals form in response to many things. Some of these are stress, defects that accumulate with the passing years, a less than optimal diet, smoking, and pollutants in the environment. To stave off premature aging, a consistent program of quality supplements will go a long way.

Antioxidants help your natural defense system do its job. You want to be absolutely sure you have all the ammunition your body needs to keep healthy and slow the aging process. Why not age gracefully? With what the supplement companies are learning all the time, the supplements are getting better with each reformulation. Take advantage of their research and testing.

When selecting an antioxidant supplement, I strongly recommend you find combination rather than single antioxidant as studies show they are more effective in combination. You need a team of antioxidants to boost your immune system and fight!
What to look for? I suggest you consider products with the following ingredients:

Vitamin C and E
Beta Carotene (Vitamin A)
Selenium
Schizandra Berries

HERBS that are known to stimulate the IMMUNE SYSTEM include:

Astragalus
Barberry
Boneset
Cat's Claw
Chamomile
Echinacea (use short term for acute episodes)
Garlic
Ginger
Ginseng
Goldenseal
Gotu kola
Licorice
Marshmallow
Mistletoe
St. John's wort

Making targeted food choices and supplementing with vitamins, minerals, and herbs will go a long way in keeping you healthy and slowing down the aging process. Why not avoid all those "preventable lifestyle diseases" when the answer lies before you?

Notes on herbs:
1. Long term use of licorice may cause water retention, elevated blood pressure, and a hormone imbalance knows as pseudoaldosteronism - so use sparingly and for short term regimens
2. Mistletoe may slow heart rate and affect blood pressure. If you have heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or a history of stroke, consult your physician before using Mistletoe.
3. If you are taking antidepressant medication, consult a physician before using St. John's wort.
About the Author
Toni Wayne, http://www.inshapezone.com, is a Wellness Coach with a long-term background in health care delivery organizations. She assists personal clients with energy, nutrition, and weight management. Toni now operates her "online Health and Fitness store" & assists customers in Wellness program design.
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