Antioxidants are a major buzzword in the health and nutritional worlds. And it’s for a good reason: they help keep you healthy, functional, and, dare I say it, feeling younger.
But what are they, and what do they do? In short, they protect your cells from damage. They defend against harmful chemicals called free radicals that can come from virtually anywhere.
Free radicals are natural waste byproducts produced by regular function. Think of them as emissions from your car. But they can also come from external factors: food choices, the sun, and harmful chemicals can all boost the number of free radicals circulating in your body.
Antioxidants can come from a variety of sources too. Some, like coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10, are produced naturally. You need to get other others, like vitamin C and vitamin A, from food. Different varieties, like flavanols, catechins, and polyphenols, come from plant-based foods.
When you take in antioxidants, they provide your body with reinforcements to maintain cell health that may ultimately boost heart health, brain health, limit inflammation, and even potentially protect your skin, eyes, and more.
In fact, they may help with everything. Every organ and muscle is made up of cells. The healthier they stay, the healthier and less prone to disease you are likely to be.
So, how can you maximize the effects of antioxidants?
The first is to limit exposure to external free radicals. That means limiting the intake of processed foods, sugary snacks and beverages, most refined grains, and alcohol. Try to avoid cigarette smoking and exposure to other pollutants.
Keep your house clean to limit dust build-up, and wear sunscreen when you go outdoors.
Eating a variety of plant-based foods will also help. Colorful fruits and vegetables like berries, leafy greens, peppers, and oranges are all terrific sources of healthy antioxidants. Nuts are good sources, too, as are beverages like tea coffee.
So, if you’re wondering what antioxidants are all about, what they do, and why they may help your health, this should help.