Antioxidants are chemicals that help maintain our bodies cellular health and thereby improves overall health. Our cells are continually dividing throughout our lives in order to multiply. Ideally, this would occur seamlessly every time so that all of our cells would be new and healthy after each replication cycle. However, this process isn’t seamless. In fact, this process includes a number of steps, and each one carries the risk for mistakes, which is how we end up with abnormal cells or cancer. One of the most common reasons that the new cells are abnormal is because the number of electrons within them becomes off-balance. When this occurs, the cell will essentially be searching for balance, through a process called oxidation, and begin to react with other cells around it, spreading the problem.
Antioxidants can help to stabilize or neutralize these free radical cells by providing them with the proper number of electrons. This allows them to return to their less-reactive state. A diet high in antioxidants improves many different conditions, including inflammation, blood-sugar imbalances, lethargy, poor digestion, low quality of sleep, as well as reduces the risk of cancer, age-related eye diseases, and certain heart diseases. This is because many diseases are caused by cellular deterioration that occurs over time.
Fortunately, antioxidants are readily available in a number of formats. Many fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, but there are human-made supplements available as well. It is important to note that meats and fish do contain some antioxidants, but plants are typically a more efficient source, which is why people who consume a plant-based diet often have higher antioxidant levels. Both vitamins C and E are antioxidants and can be obtained through the consumption of a wide variety of foods, as well as in pill format. Beta-carotene is another important antioxidant that can be found mainly in yellow, orange, and red vegetables such as carrots and squash. Selenium has been found to help with thyroid function and cancer prevention and is found in a wide variety of foods including meat, seafood, grains, onions, various nuts, garlic, and even water. Flavonoids are perhaps some of the most widely discussed antioxidants because they are found in popular foods and beverages that are often considered guilty-pleasure foods, such as green tea, red wine, grapes, and chocolate. Omega-3 fatty acids are also widely discussed because they have been proven to be protective against stroke, heart attack, and cancer. These are mainly found in salmon, tuna, and other fish.
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