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what are antioxidant

What are antioxidants? You may have heard a lot about antioxidants in regard to good health and avoiding diseases. These powerful substances, which mostly come from the fresh fruits and veggies we eat, stop (and in some cases even prevent), the oxidation (see below) of other molecules in the body creating free-radicals. The benefits of antioxidants are very important to good health because if free-radicals are left unchallenged, they can cause a wide range of illness and chronic diseases. What does this really mean?

Oxidation/Oxidative Stress & Free Radicals

The two terms heard when discussing antioxidants are oxidation/oxidative stress and free radicals. What do they mean? When molecules in the body oxidize, they can create bad cellular byproducts called free-radicals. It is very normal to have these free-radicals in the body, but in excess, they can wreak havoc on our cell structures. If our cells are weak, it is natural that our organs, tissues, and skin of the body will likewise become weak. Oxidative stress is the total burden placed on the body and its organs by the constant production of free-radicals in the normal course of metabolism plus whatever other toxic things the environment exposes us to such as natural and artificial radiation, pollution and toxins in the air, certain medications, bad foods, tobacco smoke, etc.

So what are free-radicals? In everday terms, free-radicals are bullies that start pushing everybody around and encourage nice cells to become bullies as well. Free-radicals create a  process of destroying our cells, causing the molecules within the cells to become unstable. They may even be a big player in the formation of cancer cells, causing other cells to become damaged. Because of the inherent instability of free-radicals, they try to attack other healthy cells to get stable themselves.

This can result in a poor balance between the production of free-radicals and the ability of the body to defend itself or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization by antioxidants. In order to maintain the balance, a constant supply of external sources of antioxidants is necessary in order to obtain the maximum benefits. Once an antioxidant finds its way into the body, mostly through the foods we eat, it slows down or even prevents, the oxidation of other molecules.

How to Get More Anti-Oxidants

The simplest and most effective way to expose yourself to more antioxidants is through your diet. By adding at least five servings of fruit and veggies a day into your diet, you may be helping your body reduce its chances of heart disease, nervous system diseases, cancer, and lowered immunity. Increasing one’s antioxidant intake is important for optimum health, especially in today’s world filled with pollution. Most of us do not eat enough servings per day of organic fruits and veggies. The only other option is to take a good antioxidant supplement. Some common ones that you may have heard of are the following.  Beta-carotene (carrots) for eye problems, lycopene (found in tomato) for prostate problems, astaxanthin (salmon) for the immune system, etc. These are more disease or organ-specific antioxidant supplements.

At Calla Slimspa in Orlando, our weight loss patients help their diet with Green Tea Capsules. This help them get their daily dose of antioxidants. Green Tea pills provide you with potent general antioxidant activity. They are also well tolerated.  Theyshould be added when you are not able to get enough servings of fruits and veggies in your diet. Remember, a good case can be made for the notion that health depends on a balance between oxidative stress and antioxidant defenses.