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Antioxidants

Antioxidants and free radicals: what are they?

 

Antioxidants are substances that fight free radicals and counteract their negative effects on our body. Free radicals are atoms or molecules that lack an electron. This deficiency makes free radicals particularly unstable and pushes them to "steal" electrons to other atoms or molecules. Free radicals are able to find a balance thanks to the “redox reaction”, as it is called. It therefore triggers a chain of oxidations which can damage the cellular structure of our tissues.

The production of free radicals is a natural physiological phenomenon, which depends on certain metabolic reactions. However, it can be triggered, accelerated or exacerbated by various factors such as improper diet and other negative lifestyle habits. When free radicals start to react with other atoms or molecules, the natural defences of the body are activated , and this produces enzymes and antioxidants. If these are not enough, free radicals can trigger oxidative stress that can lead to cell death, promote the development of diseases and accelerate the aging.

 


Antioxidants: how they work

 

The main forms of defence of our body against free radicals are:

The production of enzymes that fight free radicals

The production of antioxidant molecules

The introduction of antioxidants through diet

Oxidative stress is among the main causes of cellular aging. Antioxidants are molecules that can counteract the oxidative action of free radicals. In particular, antioxidants favour the elimination of cell waste products, such as free radicals. Antioxidants, such as their name implies, they block the oxidation and the oxidative stress. What are the antioxidant substances?

Polyphenols, such as flavonoids, tannins and anthocyanins

Vitamins, in particular vitamin C and E

Minerals like selenium, zinc and copper

Coenzyme q10

Glutathione

Melatonin

 


Free radicals and oxidative stress: what are the risks

 

Free radicals are a waste product of metabolism. The oxygen, present in both breathing and in other physiological processes, spreads these dangerous and highly reactive molecules that accelerate the cellular aging, weaken the immune system and promote the development of many diseases.

Among the most common risks of oxidative stress there are:

The impairment of the functionality of cells of all kinds

They attack DNA

They deteriorate tissues, such as organs and skin

They are associated with numerous chronic diseases

They trigger degenerative processes that can lead to diseases such as diabetes, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease

They speed up the aging

 


Free radicals: risk factors

 

Pollution

Active and passive smoking

Alcohol

Drugs

Stress

Ultraviolet rays

Exaggerated sports activity

Excessive consumption of saturated fats

Excessive consumption of animal proteins

Hormonal therapies with estrogens


All of these factors can increase the production of free radicals in the body and turn into possible health hazards.

 


Antioxidants and free radicals: what to do?

 

While we can not stop the natural aging process of our tissues or the productions of free radicals as a result of breathing and other metabolic processes, we can surely prevent oxidative stress and avoid excessive damage. Here are some tips to better deal with aging:

Avoid stress, or at least learn how to handle it properly. The physical and psychological stress accelerates hard the aging of the skin and all other tissues.

Moderate physical activity: we must not overdo it. Too much exercise is bad for health and triggers the production of free radicals in a large amount. Even a sudden effort, for an untrained person, causes the release of free radicals. Better if training is constant but moderate.

Cholesterol: high cholesterol promotes oxidative stress and leads to the onset of cardiovascular diseases.

Diabetes and sugar over-consumption of sugar and diabetes favour cell oxidation. Better keep your blood sugar under control and avoid consuming too much sugar. According to the WHO, we should not consume more than 25g of sugar at most per day, considering all possible food sources.

Diet: an unbalanced diet, rich in animal protein, saturated fat and low in fruits and vegetables is among the most common causes of oxidative stress.

 


Antioxidants: what are the best natural sources

 

To measure the presence of antioxidants in food, the US Department of Agriculture has developed a scale called ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). Here are the foods that contain more antioxidants:

Acai and Maqui

Cloves: on the top places there are many spices, such as cinnamon, oregano and turmeric.

Cocoa: raw cocoa is the first among the “real” foods.

Black grapes

Blueberries

Kale

Blackberries

Plums

Strawberries

Orange


The list is very long, because fortunately there are many foods rich in these precious substances. In general, it is recommended to consume 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day.

 


Superfoods high in antioxidants

 

Among the rich sources of antioxidants, we should mention some superfoods, natural foods particularly rich nutrients.

Acai: the purple Amazon berry, similar to blueberries, is a true antioxidant bomb, the supreme source of anthocyanins. Also rich in Omega-9, fibre and vitamin E, it is an excellent natural supplement to promote the circulation and beauty of the skin.

Turmeric: it is amongst the spices with the highest antioxidant content. Turmeric contains curcumin, an anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent, which is activated only thanks to piperine, the active ingredient of black pepper.

Goji Berries: small red berries rich in flavonoids, carotenoids, but especially vitamin A and C. They strengthen the immune system and fight aging.

Camu Camu: a tropical fruit, particularly rich in vitamin C. Excellent for the immune system and to improve iron absorption.

Matcha: green teas are a great source of antioxidants, but Matcha surpasses them all. It is grown in the dark to stimulate the production of chlorophyll and it is finely cold grounded to allow the proper absorption of all nutrients.

Raw Cacao: all our Cocoa-based products come from the best quality of Cocoa in the world, Peruvian Cacao Criollo. Organic, raw and Fairtrade, our cocoa is a source of antioxidants!