Antioxidants are those substances that protect your cells from free radicals. Free radicals are those elements that promote serious health issues. These health issues or conditions can be fatal in simple words, it can be described as; antioxidants are those molecules that help in neutralizing free radicals, and free radicals are the unstable molecules that can harm your cells.
Some conditions can emerge from free radicals, and they are as follows;
- Heart disease
- Cancer and other serious diseases as well.
Your body has a natural antioxidant defense system to keep free radicals in check. But it is advisable and recommended to consume food that is rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are found in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based whole foods. There are also several vitamins that are very prominent in antioxidants.
What are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are important ingredients because their main function is to reduce the effects of free radicals. They are found mostly in fruits and vegetables. Vitamins C, E, and carotenoids are also good antioxidants. They help by protecting the cells from the damage that has been caused by free radicals. Apart from this, there are other naturally occurring antioxidants that include;
It is a fact that plant-based products are very good sources of antioxidants. These include fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, seeds, spices, and herbs. Antioxidants are also used as preservatives in foods to increase their shelf life.
Antioxidants are very essential for the survival of a living being. Therefore, it is recommended to have the proper and adequate amount of antioxidant intake as your life is dependent upon the intake of certain antioxidants.
There are different types of dietary antioxidants. For instance;
- Water soluble antioxidants – water-soluble antioxidants are those antioxidants that work in fluids. It can be inside of a cell as well as it can be outside of the cell.
- Fat-soluble antioxidants – Fat soluble antioxidants are those that work in cell membranes.
Important dietary antioxidants include:
- Vitamin C – vitamin C is one of the essential water-soluble antioxidants.
- Vitamin E – vitamin E is one of the essential fat-soluble antioxidants. Its main function is to protect cell membranes from oxidative damage.
- Flavonoids – flavonoids are a group of plant antioxidants. They are also essential antioxidants.
What are Free Radicals?
Free radicals are regularly formed inside your body. These free radicals can cause serious harm to your body in a short time. It can be fatal and can also be responsible for the death of an individual. Although, they also play an important role. They help your immune cells to fight different infections. Thus, saying that your body does not need them is wrong. But in precision, it can be said that your body needs to maintain a certain balance between both antioxidants as well as free radicals. When in your body the number of free radicals becomes greater than the number of antioxidants, this leads to the stage of oxidative stress in your body. If this oxidative stress lasts for a long period, it can damage your DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) and other important molecules in your body. Sometimes this can also lead to the situation in which cells start dying. Damage to DNA further increases the risk of cancer. It can lead to an aging process as well.
Now, you think about how oxidative stress spreads. There are several factors that are responsible for the promotion of excessive free radical or oxidative stress in your body and they are as follows;
- Air pollution
- Cigarette smoke
- Alcohol intake
- Antioxidant deficiency
- High blood sugar levels
- Radiation, excessive sunbathing
- Bacterial, fungal, or viral infections
- High intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids
- Too much or too little oxygen in your body
- Intense or prolonged exercise that causes tissue damage
- Excessive consumption of iron, magnesium, copper, or zinc
- Excessive consumption of antioxidants such as vitamin C and E
Thus, we can say that your body needs to maintain a proper balance between free radicals and antioxidants. If there is a disruption it can lead to oxidative stress in the body.
Diseases that can occur because of the inadequate intake of antioxidants
Inadequate consumption of antioxidants can lead to increased oxidative stress. When there is an excessive increase in oxidative stress this will directly create the imbalance that results in the risk of developing a fatal disease.
Hence, diseases that are linked with the inadequate consumption of the antioxidant are listed below ;
- Atherosclerosis – is a type of disease that is responsible for the accumulation of fat, cholesterol, and other substances in as well as on the artery walls. This build-up is known as plaque. Because of plaque, it can cause your artery to get narrow or blocked. The plaque can also burst, and it can lead to a blood clot.
- Cancer – cancer is a type of disease in which abnormal cell growth happens. This cell growth is not in a controlled manner. This uncontrolled growth happens because of cellular change.
- Inflammatory joint disease – arthritis is a generic term for inflammatory joint disease. Regardless of the cause, inflammation of the joints may cause pain, stiffness, swelling, and some redness of the skin about the joint.
- Asthma – is a lung disorder in which the airways get narrowed. The tubes that carry the air into the lungs become inflamed and constricted thus causing breathing problems.
- Diabetes – is a type of disease in which an individual’s body has high blood sugar levels for prolonged periods.
- Senile dementia – senile dementia’s early symptoms loss of memory insomnia disoriented and/or poor balance and physical coordination. It occurs in old age because of progressive brain degeneration.
- Degenerative eye disease – an eye disease that leads to vision loss in older adults (age-related macular degeneration or AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration)).
Apart from these, some problems are related to the inadequate intake of antioxidants. Kidney damage in people with diabetes, fat build-up on the liver, swelling of the pancreas, etc.
Should you consume antioxidant supplements?
Dietary consumption of antioxidants is essential for the optimal health of an individual. But the concept of over-consuming is not always better. Some studies even show that consuming high doses of antioxidants can increase the risk of death.
For this reason, most health professionals advise people to avoid high-dose antioxidant supplements, although further studies are needed before solid conclusions can be reached. In conclusion, it can be said that consuming a high dose of antioxidant supplements can be very harmful. Therefore, it is advisable and recommended to have your daily dose of antioxidants from whole foods.
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