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Anti-Oxidants ~ a rainbow for health

Published November 11th, 2009 in Eat for Health

Anti-Oxidants ~ a rainbow for health

By Tammera J. Karr, MSHN, CNC, CNW, CNH  2009©

They come in a rainbow of colors; purple, red, orange, yellow and green, they are the anti-oxidant rich foods that keep us healthy. Studies over the last 30 years has shown that this group of nutrients can protect against cancers, cataracts, macular degeneration, allergies, heart disease, inflammatory diseases, more than eighty age related illnesses and slow the ageing process.

They come in a rainbow of colors; purple, red, orange, yellow and green, they are the anti-oxidant rich foods that keep us healthy. Studies over the last 30 years has shown that this group of nutrients can protect against cancers, cataracts, macular degeneration, allergies, heart disease, inflammatory diseases, more than eighty age related illnesses and slow the ageing process.

Anti-oxidants make up a growing group of minerals, herbs and vitamins like vitamin C, A, E, beta-carotene, bioflavonoid, selenium, germanium, lycopene and proanthocyanidins. They are all found in foods and today it is easy to use food concentrates or nutraceuticals to insure adequate intake of disease fighting anti-oxidants.

A little history

In 1954 the free radical theory of ageing was first described by Dr. Denham Harman. He stated that “a single common process, modifiable by genetic and environmental factors, was responsible for ageing and death in all living things”. He identified this process by saying, “Ageing is caused by free radical reactions, which may be caused by the environment, from disease and intrinsic reactions within the ageing process”. It has taken fifty five years for Dr. Harman’s work to be taken seriously by the medical community, they were convinced that disease must come from outside man, not as a by-product of normal biological functions; they still do not fully understand the importance of anti-oxidants in the prevention of disease.

Free radicals

No matter how hard we try there will always be free radical production in the human body. Free radical production is normal and we do it every time we breathe in air, eat food or place products on our skin.

  • Stress – emotional or physical makes you breathe less and burn more energy. Stress feeds on anaerobic metabolism, not oxygen.
  • Ozone in the air – great way to produce superoxide.
  • Auto exhaust – you breathe carbon monoxide and hydrochloric acid instead of oxygen.
  • Cigarette and wood smoke – same as auto exhaust.
  • Inflammation – your body’s immune system creates free radicals to fight germs.
  • Radiation – alters molecules so they throw off free radicals.
  • Sunlight – a form of radiation; necessary for vitamin D production.
  • Contaminated water – pick your poison; heavy metals, medications, petroleum, herbicides, and pesticides. Beware bottled water may be nothing more than filtered city water.
  • Processed foods – there are NO nutrients in man-made plastic foods. Processed foods shift your body into anaerobic metabolism to try and get something useful out of the fake food you just consumed.
  • Toxic metals & Industrial chemicals – they are in the soil, water and air. Some professions have higher exposure such as welders, fabricators, auto/aircraft detailers, herbicide applicators, gas station attendants, mechanics, janitors, landscapers etcetera… just about everyone!
  • Drugs – they all change the body’s ability to metabolize oxygen.

Anti-oxidant rich foods

Blueberries, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, greens, tomatoes, plums, peppers, grapes, winter squash, acai, pomegranate, beer, wine, spirulina, propolis, miso, tempeh, cranberries, kiwi fruit, grapefruit, olives, oranges, lemons, limes, elderberry, mushrooms, a host of herbs, cocoa, grape seeds, sesame seeds, green tea, garlic, and onions.  Also Alaskan Salmon contains the anti-oxidant astaxanthin; this comes from the krill, salmon feed on and what makes their flesh bright red/pink in color.

There are hundreds of specialty nutraceuticals that cater to just anti-oxidants. Many of them are very good and highly recommended for anyone with chronic illness or cancer. However they can only do part of the job, if you are not willing to make healthy food and beverage choices.

Supplements do not replace food and it is impossible for the average person to eat enough food to attain optimum anti-oxidants. You need to build a support system and team utilizing food, supplements, and healthcare practitioners who are willing to partner with you in a health and wellness plan.  It’s never too late to take back control of your health with a rainbow to lead you to a pot full of health.

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