Today, it is widely accepted that free radicals are the major cause of cellular damage, degenerative and chronic diseases, and skin folds and creases. Antioxidants are widely regarded as the body’s shield in fighting the deteriorating effects of free radicals, despite the lack of a dearth of studies on the anti-aging effects of antioxidants.
The Theory of Antioxidants and Anti-Aging
It was Dr. Denham Harman who first theorized in 1956, that free radicals damage cells causing aging effects on skin and elsewhere throughout the body. Cancers, heart diseases, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease are a few of the chronic diseases known to surface due to damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants, Dr Harman added, help combat the debilitating effects of free radicals.
The Science Behind Antioxidants and Aging
The interaction between free radicals, cellular structure, and antioxidants happens at the atomic level. Free radicals snatch one electron from nearby molecules which comprise cells and the DNA itself. When cells lose* an electron, it sets off a series of cellular processes that eventually damages or kills otherwise healthy cells.
For your skin, this means more fine lines and wrinkles developing. As the skin loses more skin cells to damage-causing free radicals, skin is less efficient in holding moisture and less capable of restructuring and repairing damaged skin cells and fibers.
If an abundant amount of antioxidants, however, is present in the body, this significant amount of antioxidants prevents cells from becoming overwhelmed by free radicals. Antioxidants combine with free radicals, effectively neutralizing their damaging effects and prevent it from snatching electrons from body cells. Free radicals may either be produced by the body or be picked up by the body from the environment such as through cigarette smoke, pollution, and exposure to UVA and UVB rays.
What you should know is that nature is abound with antioxidants. Plants are oozing with the goodness of antioxidants which make it imperative for you to take a fair amount of veggies, fruits, nuts, and other plant-derived food products everyday to ensure that you are loading up on the cell protecting and anti-aging benefits only antioxidants can provide.
Plants are laden with antioxidants, among the most powerful ones are flavonoids and carotenoids often found in colourful fruits and veggies; polyphenols found in green tea; and, Vitamins A, C, and E commonly found in many plant foods.
Should You take Antioxidants for Aging?
Though scientific evidence proving the health and anti-aging benefits of antioxidants remain limited, antioxidants remain good for your body. If you load up on antioxidants, you take in plenty of disease-fighting and cellular repair-promoting vitamins and nutrients from plant food, fuelling the restructuring of cells and helping prevent further damage to the body, including to your skin.
If you are planning to take antioxidant supplements, consult first with your doctor.
What Natural Foods are Good Antioxidants?
Ten of the foods with the highest level of antioxidants are listed below.
- Green Tea: Containing the highest level of polyphenols, very powerful antioxidants, two cups of green tea daily is recommended to help fight the damaging effects of free radicals to the body and skin.
- Cloves: Rich in Eugenol, cloves are powerful fat-soluble antioxidants that help control cholesterol levels, and promote good blood circulation. With good blood circulation, you get healthy skin.
- Dry, Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: Packed with flavonoids and flavanols, dry, unsweetened cocoa powder works to keep cholesterol levels at normal range, and prevents heart diseases and stroke.
- Walnuts and Pecans: These nuts help lower cholesterol levels and improve* blood circulation.
- Blueberries: Blueberries contain anthocyanins which have been shown to help prevent cancer and other degenerative diseases.
- Red Grape or Red Wine: Loaded with the goodness of polyphenols and resveratrol, red grape and moderate consumption of red wine helps protect the skin from aging.
- Leafy Green Veggies: With leafy greens, you can never go wrong and you can never have too much of the good stuff! Leafy greens are loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin which prevents vision loss; Vitamins A, C, E which boost* your immune system, help you fight degenerative diseases like cancers and osteoporosis, and promotes* skin cell repair and protects skin from UV damage.
- Mangoes: Mangoes contain very powerful antioxidants including Vitamin C, Vitamin K, flavonoids, and mangiferin which combine to help the body stop the development of many degenerative Diseases including Alzheimer’s disease and cancers.
- Red Bell Peppers: A great source of Vitamins C and E, red bell peppers also provide the body with a huge serving of powerful antioxidants that include flavonoids and carotenoids that help the body fight inflammation and cancers.
- Oranges: Rated among the world’s top foods containing Vitamin C, oranges are a great way to shield the body from the damaging effects of free radicals, particularly stopping the oxidation of fats which, if not prevented, causes blood clots and blocks arteries.
Sometimes, scientific evidence is not the only way to prove the healing power of natural foods, like antioxidants in plant food. Sometimes, you have to trust centuries of human experience and your personal experience as well. Try these foods high in antioxidants and make your own judgment. If it makes you feel good, chances are, these foods are good for you.