If we had to create a LinkedIn bio for antioxidants, it would say - “a little like your fairy godmother, floating around cleaning up after you, making you shiny and new, defending you from trouble”. Or more scientifically speaking, “Free Radical Scavenger”. We went deep diving to share what this nutritional buzz word is all about, and for that, we first have to understand what they do.
Our bodies are constantly producing free radicals as byproducts of creating energy a.k.a making a mess. We produce these through mitochondrial activity (making energy) every time we eat or exercise. We can also obtain free radicals from our environment through things like smoking, air pollution and sunlight. Free radicals are high in energy, they team up with other molecules polluting our bodies causing a raucous, more formally known as oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress causes damage to our surrounding tissues including our DNA and immune cells, damage which is linked to aging, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, arthritis, vision loss and hardening of our arteries. Our bodies require a lot of energy, making us really good at producing free radicals but unfortunately, we're not so good at making antioxidants.
That's why getting antioxidants through our diet is crucial to creating a positive balance and protecting ourselves from oxidative stress. There are hundreds and possibly thousands of substances that can act as antioxidants, each has its own role and can interact with others to help our bodies. Most of these are found in fresh produce like fruit and vegetables. These substances are grouped as antioxidants because it describes what they do. The most popular being vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, along with many minerals like zinc, selenium and manganese.
We have been buzzing about Antioxidants since the 90’s, with industries using them as a selling point for their products or business, we’re sure a few food groups spring to mind when you hear antioxidants?? Whatever they are, we should be eating more of them!! We should think of fresh produce as an antioxidant gift box for our bodies that loyally works hard for us around the clock. So let’s continue the buzz!