Antioxidants are substances that help to inhibit or postpone the effects of free radicals on cells. They can be found naturally in a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as in synthetic supplements. A dietary supplement is rarely required because they are found in adequate quantities in natural foods. Foods high in beta-carotene, vitamin E, and vitamin C are the best sources of antioxidants you can use in your diet. These sources, as well as the benefits, function, and behaviour of antioxidants, have been discussed in greater depth in this article.
What are Antioxidants and Free Radicals
A free radical is a molecule with an additional unpaired electron that makes it extremely reactive when trying to pair up with another molecule. To do this, it actively reacts with body cells, causing them to be damaged. This injury, also known as oxidative damage, is harmful to the human body’s various organs and systems and is a major cause of many diseases. Free radicals are generated by the body’s natural metabolic processes or by exposure to certain factors such as toxins, chemicals, pesticides, smoke, or harmful rays such as UV rays and X rays. They are often produced in greater quantities as a result of an unhealthy diet rich in junk foods.
They have an active reaction with body cells, particularly those in the skin, and are responsible for premature skin ageing and wrinkles. Free radicals often damage the hair, which can be seen as hair greying or progressive hair loss as people get older. Harm from oxidative stress exacerbates age-related alopecia (bald patches caused by hair loss). As a result, it is correct to assert that oxidative stress plays a significant role in the ageing process. The following are some of the other effects of free radicals on the human body.
- Arthritis, Lupus erythematosus, and other inflammatory disorders (pain, swelling, or redness)
- Atherosclerosis, heart attack, stroke, ischemia, and hypertension are all cardiovascular diseases.
- Gastric ulcers, for example, are a type of gastrointestinal condition.
- Rheumatoid arthritis, for example, is an autoimmune disease.
- Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease are examples of neurological disorders.
- Muscular dystrophy is a form of muscular dystrophy.
- Cataracts, blurred vision, and vision loss are also vision-related diseases.
Though free radical formation is an unavoidable mechanism, one can influence the body’s response to them by increasing the amount of antioxidants in one’s diet. Antioxidants in many foods provide an extra electron to free radicals, allowing them to form a pair and thereby reduce chemical instability. Antioxidants have the ability to suppress free radical activity and prevent oxidative damage to body cells, making them an important part of a healthy diet.
Antioxidants can be found in appropriate quantities in the foods mentioned below. To get the most health benefits, one should increase Antioxidant foods amount. It is, however, important to seek advice from a nutritionist or physician to determine the best options for you. Let’s take a look of the Antioxidant foods:
- Vitamin C rich Antioxidant foods:
- Leafy greens like kale, spinach, broccoli
- Vitamin E rich Antioxidant foods
- Lean meat
- Fish oil
- Vitamin A rich Antioxidant foods
- Leafy greens like spinach, kale and broccoli
- Pigmented vegetables like yellow, green and red capsicum, as well as carrot
- Milk and milk products
- Other sources of Antioxidants foods
- Nuts like walnuts, peanuts
- Onions, leeks and garlic
- Tea and green tea
- Whole grains
Antioxidants are extremely beneficial to human health, particularly the skin. They aid in the reduction of oxidative damage, which helps to prevent a variety of diseases and illnesses. There are so many antioxidants benefits and the following are some of the most common antioxidants benefits:
- Antioxidants Benefits For the skin: Antioxidants have many advantages for the skin, including the prevention of wrinkles, fine lines, and other symptoms of ageing. They also play a role in photoprotection (sun protection) and wound healing.
- Antioxidants Benefits For the hair: Antioxidants are extremely beneficial to your hair. They protect your hair from harm, which helps to prevent hair loss and premature greying.
- Antioxidants Benefits For the eyes: Antioxidants are good for the eyes because they help to reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration by nearly 25%. They also reduce the risk of cataract in the elderly, lowering the risk of blindness.
- Antioxidants Benefits For the brain: Antioxidants help to minimise oxidative stress and damage in the elderly, which causes neurodegeneration and memory loss. Antioxidants have been shown in studies to reduce the levels of beta-amyloid protein, which is implicated in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Antioxidants Benefits For weight loss: When antioxidants are used in the diet, they help with fat metabolism, which aids in weight loss.
- Other Antioxidants Benefits: Antioxidants can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by reducing organ damage. Antioxidants have also been shown to play a part in cancer prevention.
So, these are the some antioxidants benefits which you read above.
Antioxidants For The Hair
On a daily basis, hair is exposed to a number of damaging agents, including ultraviolet sun rays, toxins in the atmosphere, chemicals, and smoke. UV-A rays raise the number of free radicals in the body, while UV-B rays decrease the amount of melanin in the hair. Melanin is the pigment that gives our hair and skin their colour. The combined effects of these two cause hair to grey.
Antioxidants have been shown to minimise the harm caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays, as well as age-related changes including greying and hair loss, according to several reports. They’ve also been found to improve hair’s shine and texture. Including rich antioxidant foods in your diet may thus be helpful in a variety of ways.
Antioxidants For The Eye
The leading cause of blindness in the world is age-related macular degeneration. Vitamin A deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Researchers believe that consuming more antioxidants, as well as vitamins and minerals, can help to avoid or postpone AMD and vision loss.
The use of antioxidants has been shown to reduce the risk of AMD by 25%. To minimise this risk, it is recommended that you consume five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, as well as two servings of nuts and seeds. This will also aid in the prevention of cataracts, which are another cause of blindness in the elderly.
Antioxidants For The Brain
Free radicals can damage the brain, which is a crucial organ in the body. As the percentage of free radicals in the body increases with age, the human body’s defence mechanisms fail to work. These substances react aggressively with the brain, affecting its functions such as memory and cognition. Memory loss in older people has been linked to a nutritional deficiency in antioxidant foods, especially vitamin E, which increases oxidative stress.
Antioxidants have been shown to mitigate and even reverse the harmful effects of reactive oxygen species on the brain. This can aid in the reduction or prevention of memory loss in these people. Certain antioxidants have also been shown to lower beta-amyloid levels, the agent that causes Alzheimer’s disease. As a result, increasing your intake of rich antioxidant foods is advised, particularly as you get older.
Antioxidants For The Heart
Atherosclerosis and other heart diseases are caused by oxidative stress. Inadequate intake of antioxidants has been identified as a cause of this stress, which has been linked to heart disease. Vitamin E and C supplementation has been shown to help prevent coronary heart disease. However, more comprehensive research is required to back up these results.
Antioxidants Benefits For The Elderly
Free radicals have the ability to inflict cellular damage and even DNA changes. Although antioxidant enzymes are present in the body to protect against free radical damage, it has been discovered that the amount of free radicals present in the elderly is higher. This may be due to a decrease in defensive enzymes and defence mechanisms as people get older. To slow down this process, the antioxidant levels in the diet is suggested, which is likely to have a beneficial impact by reducing apparent age-related changes like wrinkles.
Antioxidants Reduce Cancer
Free radicals cause oxidative damage, which is reduced by antioxidants. Free radicals, which are reactive oxygen species that cause oxidative damage, have been related to an increased risk of many forms of cancer, including skin cancer, bladder cancer, brain tumours, liver cancer, oral cancer, and leukaemia, to name a few. Each of these cancers has a different risk of developing. Oxidative stress, on the other hand, plays a role in the transformation of a normal cell into a tumour cell.
Antioxidants are thought to play a part in cancer prevention by lowering the levels of reactive oxygen species. Antioxidant vitamins including vitamin C and vitamin E have been shown to protect against cancer in studies. However, mixed findings have been collected, making it impossible to make a conclusive conclusion. Despite this, it is a good idea to add new fruits and vegetables to your diet because they are usually cancer-preventive.
Antioxidants For Weight Loss
Obesity is a big issue in India, affecting 5% of the population. Obesity is linked to two major risk factors: an unhealthy diet and a lack of physical activity. Obesity is a big concern in and of itself, but it is also a recognised risk factor for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Some antioxidant foods, such as those high in vitamin C, have been found to be effective in weight loss because they aid in fat metabolism.
These foods also help to boost metabolism, which helps to speed up the weight-loss process. Aside from vitamin C-rich foods, other antioxidants such as vitamin E, green tea, and cinnamon have also been shown to aid weight loss. Including these foods in your diet, along with a well-balanced diet and adequate physical activity, is likely to help you reach your weight-loss goals.
Antioxidants Benefits For Skin
Antioxidants have many advantages for skin health. They aid in the reduction and prevention of fine lines, wrinkles, and other ageing symptoms. The mechanism by which antioxidants produce these effects has been investigated in a number of studies. Nutritional antioxidants, especially vitamin E, vitamin C, and carotenoids, have been found to be extremely beneficial in terms of protecting the skin from ageing and also having a photoprotective impact (protects from UV rays).
Vitamin E has anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to soothe irritated skin. It has a calming effect on the skin and can also boost collagen development. Collagen is the primary structural protein in the skin, and it aids in skin elasticity as well as wound repair and healing. Antioxidant foods can significantly enhance skin health and should therefore be included in everyone’s diet. According to studies, the combined effects of vitamin C and vitamin E are much more potent than either vitamin alone. As a result, a skin ointment that contains both is recommended.
Flavonoids, which have strong antioxidant effects, are abundant in some varieties of tea. These teas are likely to minimise oxidative damage caused by free radicals when consumed on a regular basis. White tea, green tea, black tea, and oolong tea are all excellent sources of antioxidants. White tea is made from young tea leaves that have been lightly processed and exposed to light and heat, while oolong and black teas have been slightly processed and exposed to light and heat.
Green tea is high in antioxidants and pro-oxidants, which can help protect against free radicals. To make green tea, the leaves are easily boiled or heated to prevent catechin oxidation. Simply steep 1 teaspoon of tea leaves in 2 to 3 cups of sweet, boiling water for two to three minutes before straining and drinking.
Side Effects of Antioxidants
Although antioxidants have numerous advantages, they can also be harmful when consumed in large quantities or by artificial supplements. Before making any dietary changes or supplement additions, you should check with your doctor. The type of antioxidants consumed can have various side effects. If you experience any of the following side effects, you should seek medical advice:
- Dry skin
- Blurred vision
- Abdominal cramps
- Tingling or numbing sensations
- Any severe reaction like wheezing, itching, rash, difficulty in breathing, difficulty in swallowing, etc.