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Antioxidants – the Wonder Nutrients!

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“Antioxidants: the Wonder Nutrients that can Boost Memory, Protect Your Heart, Prevent Disease, Slow Ageing and Give You Beautiful Skin!”

The magnitude of plants with therapeutic properties is astounding. Some 70,000 species of plants, from lichens to towering trees, have been used throughout history for medicinal purposes. About 500 herbs are still employed in conventional medicine although the whole plant is rarely used, often at the sacrifice of the synergistic qualities of the herb.

Several hundred of these plants contain antioxidants which are free-radical fighters. Antioxidants are some of the most abundant substances in the plant kingdom. These powerful substances, which mostly come from the fresh fruits and vegetables we eat, prohibit (and in some cases even prevent), the oxidation of other molecules in the body. They work by generously giving electrons to free radicals without turning into electron-scavenging substances themselves. 

What are the Health Benefits of Antioxidants?

Recently, you may have read or heard a lot about antioxidants in conjunction with good health or avoiding diseases. You are exposed on a daily basis to free radicals as a normal bi-product of your regular normal bodily processes. Things like breaking down the food you eat, your natural cell replication, your liver’s minute-by-minute metabolisation of unwanted substances, when you exercise, even when you sleep. All these actions cause a natural free radical process to occur.

Where it becomes a problem is if we take pharmaceutical drugs, when we over eat, if we drink too much alcohol, as well as when we are exposed to chemical pollutants as part of our modern lifestyle. In addition, over-exposure to the sun (sunburn) and smoking can also increase your body’s natural oxidisation process and create even more free-radicals than your usual daily activity produces.

Antioxidants have been proven to stop this cellular chain reaction of oxidation by neutralizing the free radicals. Many people joke about getting their antioxidants from wine . . . But let’s face it, people look at us and judge our age from the tone and texture of our skin; the shine, thickness and lustre of our hair; the joy and enthusiasm of our attitude and the spring in our step!

The use of antioxidants have been said to:

  • stem the onset of degenerative diseases
  • maintain youthful appearances
  • improve the quality of blood vessels
  • and significantly increase one’s life span.

It probably goes without saying that it is important to maintain the strength of our blood vessels, because if the blood vessels grow old or if it becomes weak, fragile, thin and leaky, your health is in danger. If the blood carrying oxygen doesn’t flow properly, then the heart muscle can be damaged, your brain cells may die or malfunction, your leg muscles may cramp and cause pain, and the vision might diminish.

If a blood vessel bursts, there is a tendency that you will suffer a brain heamorrhage or “bleeding stroke,” or tiny spider veins may appear on the surface of your skin. The gums and nose may bleed, fluid may leak through permeable blood vessels, causing swelling or oedema, or varicose veins may bulge in your legs. So looking after your blog vessels can help you live a healthier, longer life.

Where Do Antioxidants Come Into The Picture?

Antioxidants are bioflavonoids, a host of complex organic plant compounds found mostly in fruits, vegetables and certain tree barks. Most people are aware of the antioxidant benefits of vitamins C and E found in a multitude of fruits and vegetables. Nutritionists the world over differ in their ideas of which nutrients are the most important for longevity, health and healing. The field of natural health, as with all endeavours, is subject to fads and fashions. So their criteria vary. Yet there are substances that have enduring status, and antioxidants are certainly at the top of the list.

It is commonly thought that by eating a diet rich in fresh, organically grown fruits and vegetables, we are able to address the imbalance of these important substances and reduce our overall oxidative stress. “Eat Organic and Fresh” is the general rule of thumb, but that no longer does the job, as far as protecting us from the modern day increases in free-radical attack and oxidative damage!

Antioxidants are supposed to be particularly abundant in fresh organic fruits and vegetables, and while this is definitely true when they are grown naturally, are picked when ripe and are eaten within days, or at least weeks from harvesting. Unfortunately the antioxidant qualify and quantity of our food is affected by forced growth methods, early harvesting, storage and age. So, often the foods we eat, although purportedly ‘fresh’, no longer contain the antioxidants our bodies so badly need. As well, poor eating habits is currently one of the greatest burdens on the health of western society

What Do Antioxidants Do?

Have you ever seen the bottom-feeder fish in a fish-tank, sucking up all the gunk and grime that is toxic for the rest of the fish? Think of antioxidants as molecular-sized, “free radical scavengers” in the fish-tank of your body. They function as helpers to influence the body’s immune response to inflammation, allergy and infection. Once an antioxidant finds its way into the body, either through the foods we eat or from supplementation, it slows down, or even prevents, the oxidation of other molecules.

When molecules in the body oxidize, they can create toxic ‘free-radicals’, or cellular bi-products. You are exposed to free radicals as a normal bi-product of regular bodily processes, like breaking down the food we eat plus from sources such as: the taking of toxic medicines, smoking, as well as through exposure to pollutants whether ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin.  It is very normal to have these free-radicals in the body, but in excess, they can wreak havoc on our cellular structures.

Antioxidants have been proven to stop this cellular chain reaction of oxidation by neutralizing the free radicals. Oxidative damage plays a huge role in many of our modern-day diseases, such as muscle and tissue degeneration, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, as well as many other health problems.

Studies have shown that taking supplemental antioxidants can play a huge role in reducing the cell-damage of free radicals. Moreover, the National Cancer Institute has stated that research in lab animals has shown that – “antioxidants help prevent the free radical damage that is associated with cancer.” Many experts feel that increased antioxidants in the body can also help slow the process of ageing, and may even increase longevity.

As we’ve explained, antioxidants scavenge free radicals from the body cells, and prevent or reduce the damage caused by oxidation. A diet high in antioxidants may reduce the risk of many diseases, including heart disease and certain cancers. There are hundreds, probably thousands, of different substances that can act as antioxidants.

Antioxidants include substances such as:

  • enzymes
  • Vitamins A, C and E
  • beta-carotene
  • minerals such as selenium and manganese
  • Other antioxidants such as glutathione
  • coenzyme Q10
  •  lipoic acid
  •  flavonoids, including OPCs
  • phenols and polyphenols
  • phytoestrogens, and many more.

By donating or sharing their electrons, antioxidants are able to neutralise free radicals and stop the damage they would otherwise cause. This is why antioxidants help reduce ageing, however it is worth noting that as you age, your body’s natural defences against oxidation, free radicals and oxidative stress become less effective. This means that the older you are, the greater your need for antioxidants.

However it is an unfortunate fact that the DNA damage from the recent decades of chemical onslaught has brought havoc into the cells of our young (even according to the WHO 2012 Report, our unborn) children, so that today children are also developing what was once considered ageing diseases such as heart issues, cancer and all the degenerative diseases of the twenty first century.

This means that the whole family needs the protective power of these wonder nutrients, if parents want to optimise their family’s health.

 

Which antioxidants should we choose?

Three main factors should be considered.

  1. The first is bio-availability. The more bioavailable an antioxidant is, the more easily it can be put to work.
  2. The next is its antioxidant strength. This can be measured using the ORAC system: the hight the ORAC* score, the greater its antioxidant power.
  3. Last, but not least, is diversity.  Choose a supplement that combines antioxidants from many different sources.

The Savvy Team’s recommended antioxidant is founded upon these three important factors – bioavailability, a high ORAC* score and a wide source of antioxidants. [* ORAC is an abbreviation for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity and was developed by the National Institutes of Health in Baltimore. In short, ORAC units measure the antioxidant capacity of foods. The higher, the better.]

Some of the ingredients in our recommended formulas include the antioxidants: vitamins A, C, E; the minerals calcium, selenium, and zinc; and caratenoids such as betacarotene, lucein and lycopene. It also contains tumeric for that cur cumin boost; grape seed and pine bark for the amazing OPCs; and flavonoid factors and green tea for even more flavonoid impact.

Why Do We Need Antioxidants?

The use of antioxidants has been proven to stem the onset of degenerative diseases, maintain a youthful appearance, improve the quality of the blood vessels and significantly increase one’s life span. It is important to maintain the strength of your blood vessels, because if the blood vessels grow old or become weak, fragile, thin and leaky, your health is in danger.

If the blood carrying oxygen doesn’t flow properly, the heart muscle can be damaged, your brain cells may die or malfunction, your leg muscles may cramp and cause pain, and your vision might diminish.

If a blood vessel bursts, there is a tendency that you will suffer a brain hemorrhage or “bleeding stroke,” or tiny spider veins may appear on the surface of your skin. The gums and nose may bleed, fluid may leak through permeable blood vessels, causing swelling or edema, or varicose veins may bulge in your legs. Antioxidants compounds like OPC have proven to be excellent at strengthening blood vessels and capillaries, therefore making the choice to supplement the diet with OPC-containing nutrients a wise choice.

In a perfect world, you’d be able to get all the antioxidants you need from a healthy diet alone. Unfortunately, there are just too many free radicals invading your body:-

  • From stress …
  • From a poor-quality diet and food additives …
  • From environmental pollutants and toxins …
  • And from your body’s natural metabolic processes …

So your body’s supply of in-house antioxidant “janitors” can’t keep up with all their chores — cleaning up the cell-damaging messes made by the free radicals. And without a plentiful supply of crucial antioxidants:

  • Your body becomes vulnerable to free radical damage …
  • You lack energy and stamina …
  • Your immune system operates at less than peak efficiency …

So what should you do?

You should take an antioxidant supplement daily, as a preventative measure!

There are more than 60,000 known toxins in the water we drink and the air we breathe at the time of writing, and thee increase almost daily. No one is immune to the destructive power of free radicals and oxidation as a result of the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat.

You need to bring in some “outside help” – some strong antioxidant ‘janitors’ to mop up the larger damage the excess free radicals make. These include things like … injuries to your cell membranes and mitochondria, damage to your DNA, cellular breakdown just to name a few. Taking antioxidants regularly throughout one’s lifetime can be beneficial in counteracting some of these toxins.

“But I already take an antioxidant,” you may be saying.” So why don’t I get the results your users seem to be getting?”

Firstly, not all antioxidants give the same protection. Secondly not all supplements have the same efficacy – been though they may look to have ‘more’ of any particular ingredient. It’s a bit like the old John West advertisement: “Oils Just Ain’t Oils!”

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