What is a free radical?
A free radical is an oxygen molecule that become unstable and cause oxidation of other molecules. This can lead to cellular damage that triggers inflammation, cancer, arterial damage and ageing. Free radicals are link with 60 diseases. These oxidants must be neutralized and removed.
Oxidants are produced by:
- Exhaust fumes
- Normal body processes
What are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants inhibit oxidation (free radicals) and prevent cellular damage.
What do antioxidants do?
Anti-oxidants are a group of molecules that disarm harmful toxins. Some antioxidants are produced by the body and others come from other sources. Your body`s own antioxidant production declines with age.
Benefits of Antioxidants
- Boost your immune system
- Increase fertility
- Protect the body against cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Cataracts and Arthrosclerosis
- Repair and protect damaged molecules like your DNA
- Chelate heavy metals
- Stimulate the body`s own genes
Types of Antioxidants
These antioxidants will break down free radicals and removes them.
Types of enzymatic antioxidants
- SOD (Superoxide dismutase)
They can break down superoxide into hydrogen peroxide and oxygen.
- CAT (Catalase)
Catalase will convert hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen.
- GSHpx (Glutathione peroxidase)
They are selenium-containing enzymes that break down hydrogen peroxide and organic peroxides into alcohols.
They interrupt free radical chain reactions. Carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin E, plant polyphenols and GSH (Glutathione) are examples of non-enzymatic antioxidants. Most antioxidants that you find in food and supplements belong to this class.
Antioxidants produced by your body
- Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA)
Antioxidants not produced by the body
These antioxidants must be obtained from food and or supplements.
- Carotenoids (Carotenes and Xanthophylls)
- Astaxanthin (marine carotenoid)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
The Synergy of Antioxidants
Antioxidants work like a team of players. To deactivate oxidants (free radicals) you need a combination of vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene, glutathione, anthocyanidins, lipoic acid and coenzyme Q10. Antioxidants should rather be taken in a combination than singularly because their synergy effect together.
Why is it important to know your levels of antioxidants in your body?
To stay free from disease there should be a balance between your intake of harmful free radicals (oxidants) and your intake of protective antioxidants. Early signs of an antioxidant imbalance are frequent infections (flu and colds), difficulty to shift infection, easy bruising, slow healing, thinner skin or excessive wrinkles for your age.
Which are the best fruit and vegetables to eat?
Plants provide salvestrols which ward off cancer, sirtuin activators that help burn fat, as well an antioxidants and polyphenols that reduce inflammation and disease risk has led to a whole rethink about which fruits and vegetables are best to choose.
However, which fruit and veg are best?
1. Antioxidant power
Berries, plums, apples, oranges, broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, avocado and artichoke have high antioxidant value. Red grapes are high in antioxidants they are also high in high GL sugars.
2. Polyphenol power
Polyphenols’ are just as important as a plant’s antioxidant power. Polyphenols are rich in many ‘superfoods’ such as resveratrol in red grape skin, isoflavones in beans, curcumin in turmeric, cinnamic acid in cinnamon and anthocyandins in black elderberry and other berries.
Polyphenols are a very broad group of compounds that are produced by plants as part of their defence system to protect the plant, for example, from infection or UV radiation. These often protect us from infection but also, in a highly intelligent way, seem to switch off disease processes and switch on healthy genetic switching that help us stay healthy and livelong.
Examples of polyphenols: flavonoids, quercetin, anthocyanidins and isoflavones.
Foods that have the most antioxidant power and the most polyphenol can be regarded as superior foods. Foods can be high in one and low in the other.
Best fruit and vegetables for both antioxidants and polyphenols
|Vegetables||Fruit||Nuts||Herbs and Spices||Other|
|Artichoke, red onion, broccoli, asparagus, spinach, olives, beetroot*, avocado*, kale*, parsley and lovage||Blackcurrants, blueberries, plums, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, apples||Chestnuts, pecan nuts, almonds, chia, flax||Cloves, oregano, turmeric*, capers, mint, star anise, sage, rosemary, basil, thyme, ginger, curry powder, cinnamon||Dark chocolate, red wine, coffee, peppermint (tea), black tea, green tea|
3. Polyphenols that activate the Sirtuin skinny genes
Certain polyphenols help you burn fat and build muscle. The first identified was resveratrol in the red skin of grapes and peanuts. Others are green tea, cocoa powder, turmeric, kale, onions, especially red onions as a source of quercetin, olives, parsley and lovage. Many fruits and veg do contain sirtuin activators the levels in common foods such as tomatoes, lettuce, kiwi, carrots and cucumber are relatively low.
4. The polyphenol “Salvestrols” that acts very strong anti-cancer
Salvestrols are similar to resveratrol have an even stronger anticancer activity than resveratrol. Salvestrol is a natural dietary anticancer prodrug. Salvestrols are activated only inside cancer cells, into compounds that can kill the cancer cell. The anticancer effects are due, not to the plant chemicals themselves, but what they turn into within the cancer cells due to the presence of a specific enzyme CYP1B1, which is only found in cancer cells.
Plants can make chemicals that act as attractants or repellents. The repellents fight off microbial pathogens such as fungi (mould) or bacteria. Examples are phytoalexins in oranges and bilberries and resveratrol in red grape skins. Both are types of salvestrols.
When we eat the plants, the salvestrols in the food trigger an enzyme found only in cancer cells to produce piceatannol, which then attacks the cancer.
High levels of Salvestrols are found most abundantly in organic red and green fruits and vegetables. The use of fungicides reduces a plant’s production of salvestrols drastically.
Salvestrol rich fruit and vegetables
The top dozen fruit and vegetables regarding: Glycaemic load, antioxidant, polyphenols, salvestrols and sirtuin activators
- Cabbage (red)
- Onions (red)
Lifestyle changes to maximise your antioxidant intake
- Eliminate sugar and grains from your diet
Less sugar and grains in the diet will reduce your need for antioxidants.
Moderate exercise can boost your body`s capacity to produce antioxidants.
- Stress management
Stress can enhance free radical formation. 85% of diseases have an emotional component.
- Stop and / or avoid smoking
Smoking causes free radicals in your body.
- Adequate sleep at night
Lots of repair takes pace during sleep.
- Connect with mother earth
Walking barefoot helps you to absorb large amounts of negative electrons through the soles of your feet and has a potent antioxidant effect on your body.
It is important to know your antioxidant status. The PHARMANEX BIOPHOTONIC SCANNER is an excellent option to check your antioxidant status. Do you know your status?
Potter, G.A. & Burke, M.D. (2006) Salvestrols – Natural Products with Tumour Selective Activity. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine. 21(1): 34-36.