Antioxidants are compounds that our body uses to eat up free radicals (unstable molecules that steal electrons from other molecules, disrupting cell activity). Because pollution, poor dietary choices and stress can all increase our production of free radicals, our bodies constantly require new antioxidants. If our diet does not provide an adequate quantity of antioxidants we may begin to feel the effects of free radical damage, the primary one being chronic inflammation.
Scientific research has now demonstrated a link between chronic inflammation and several systemic diseases including heart disease, cancer and diabetes. In their new book The Anti-Aging Solution, Dr. Vincent Giampapa and Dr. Ronald Pero claim “ inflammation is now considered by leading heart experts to be a primary cause of arteriosclerosis or arterial blockage”. Inflammation is the body’s response to the discovery that it contains damaged or injured cells. Most of us think that sprains and strains cause inflammation, but many scientists now believe that free radicals can have an even more potent influence on our cells.
They conclude that we need a diet higher in antioxidants to reduce this chronic inflammation and prevent premature aging and disease. Respected U.C. Berkeley Scientist Dr. Lester Packer has stated that not only do we need more antioxidants, we need the entire spectrum of antioxidants available. This, he says, is because antioxidants work together to produce maximum protect and relieve one another’s burden. If we get a broad range of antioxidants every day, our free radical defences will be optimized.
Scientists have identified over 600 different carotenoids, the most famous one being beta-carotene. Each carotenoid tends to protect a specific type of membrane in the body. For example, research evidence demonstrates that lycopene protects the prostate and lutein protects the eyes. For this reason, many nutritionists recommend we supplement our diets with a broad range carotenoid supplement, one that includes several different carotenoids.
Most plentiful in yellow and orange foods, like carrots, corn and squash, carotenoids are essential to the anti-aging diet and have well know anti-cancer properties.
Co Enzyme Q10
Also known as ubiquinone, CoQ10 is a molecule our bodies produce and store in the energy -making part of every human cell. It is vital to life because it protects our DNA from free radicals and converts food molecules into energy. Unfortunately, CoQ10 production can be reduced by a lack of vitamin C, any of the B vitamins or the natural process of aging. CoQ10 has not been proclaimed a vitamin because the body can produce it, but supplementation is very beneficial for older individuals or anyone experiencing fatigue. Most commonly produced from sugar beets, CoQ10 can be applied topically (as a skin cream) or taken internally (in capsules).
The human body uses vitamin E to defend cell membranes from free radical damage. Composed of 8 compounds, 4 called tocopherols and 4 called tocotrienols, vitamin E is very effective at protecting the body and reducing inflammation. Some scientists promote vitamin E supplementation because our levels of vitamin E drop as we age. Others prescribe the vitamin because its ability to fight free radicals is quickly used up, making it very reliant on other antioxidants to relieve its burden.
Vitamin E that contains natural mixed tocopherols and or tocotrienols is the best type of supplement to purchase. Because each the 8 compounds in the vitamin are important, you’ll want them all! The best food sources of this vitamin are whole grains like brown rice and raw nuts. Even if you are supplementing, make sure you’re getting enough of these foods!
As usual, the experts are still saying, eat a healthy, wholesome diet and augment with good quality supplements. The Anti-Aging Solution, published in 2004 by Wiley is a wonderful source of antioxidant information.