“In the middle ages, people took potions for their ailments. In the 19th century they took snake oil. Citizens of today’s shiny, technological age are too modern for that. They take antioxidants and extract of cactus instead”
– Charles Krauthammer.
This is the truth, a sad truth. It’s human nature to take the easy way out of things – I understand. While people think supplementing with anti-oxidants will get the job done, the power of food is incredible and can certainly provide an optimal dose of anti-oxidants without any need for supplements.
Before I explain the role of anti-oxidants, it’s important to know what ‘free radicals’ are. Put simply, free radicals are produced when the body breaks down food or through environmental exposure of harmful substances such as tobacco or radiation. Free radicals, when accumulated in the body, may damage cells and cause cancer and heart disease, to name a few.
Anti-oxidants help fight these free radicals and protect the cells from any damage experienced. Some examples of antioxidants include vitamins A, C and E, lutein and beta-carotene. Such nutrients can be found in various types of food and also be supplemented with.
Of course, depending on your dietary habits and choices, you may be deficient in certain anti-oxidants. Rather than supplementing with anti-oxidants, why don’t you take a step back and analyze your eating habits? Are you eating the right foods? Better yet, are you not eating rich sources of anti-oxidants? These are examples of questions you should be asking yourself. Nonetheless, here are some factors that may lead to anti-oxidant deficiency. Take note, and work on changing any one of these habits to rev up your anti-oxidants supply in the body.
1. Restricting calorie-intake
Your main source of anti-oxidants should stem from food. If you eat a varied and well-balanced diet then you’ll be in the clear. On the flip side, reducing your overall calorie intake (which means lessening your food consumption) may lead to anti-oxidant deficiency due to the lack of nutrient absorption from the lack of food intake. For this reason, make sure you are consuming adequate calories throughout the day and taking in calories from whole foods rather than meal replacers (i.e. shakes).
2. A chronic low-fat diet
Among the benefits of fat is the ability to absorb vitamins, mainly vitamins A, D, E and K. Eliminating fat from you diet will hinder the absorption of such vitamins, including those considered as anti-oxidants (vitamins A & E). That said, include healthy fats in your diet to enhance the absorption of anti-oxidants and boost your overall health and well-being.
3. Limiting fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals, including anti-oxidants. Limiting such foods is certainly another way to become deficient in anti-oxidants. Make sure to include fruits and/or vegetables at every main meal and/or snack of the day and eat a rainbow! Varying the fruits and vegetables you eat will allow you to absorb the many different nutrients (and anti-oxidants) found in fruits and vegetables.
4. Ditching whole grains
We’re all aware that fruits, vegetables and other foods are abundant of anti-oxidants. What people fail to realize is that whole grains are also rich in anti-oxidants! Whole grains contain vitamins B and E, along with magnesium, iron and fiber and are a great choice to opt for if you’re looking to fight those free radicals.
Time and time again, I reiterate the notion of eating a varied and balanced diet to consume your daily recommended intake of micro and macronutrients and also taking in this like anti-oxidants. Believe me, the nutrients you obtain from the foods you eat trumps taking any supplement out there. As cliché as this may sound, if you eat well, you’ll live well. After reading this, it should be clear to you that doing so will provide you with the necessary nutrients needed to boost the immune system and enhance health and well-being. Always think food first and supplements second.
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