You hear so much talk about antioxidants within particular foods and vitamins and so I thought I might break it down and explain what it is that makes antioxidants so special and how they help our body cope with everyday biological functions that are vital to our health and wellbeing and why they are also great when you are following the Lose Baby Weight plans.
Our body is constantly changing, old cells are being repaired or dying and new cells are being made. The metabolic processes that encompass everything from making and repairing cells to using your muscles for everyday purposes cause bi-products and waste, and among this waste are free radicals.
Free radicals are short lived compounds that are a made up of a single electron with an electrical charge, which is being drawn to another electron of opposite charge from another compound. These free radicals are strong and are drawn to electron-dense cell components like DNA, lipids (fats) and proteins which can be very damaging if these compounds are interfered with and molecular chains broken.
This damage to compounds by free radicals is commonly referred as oxidative stress, which is the damage to DNA, lipids and/or proteins produced by excessive production of free radicals. The health consequences of oxidative stress has been extensively researched in regards to
- cardiovascular disease (Australia’s number 1 killer)
- cancer (particularly from damage to DNA)
- Acceleration of the aging process (as if kids don’t do that to us enough!)
- Inflammation of the joints (arthritis)
- Damage to nerve cells in the brain (with consequences like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease)
Additionally, oxidative stress also compromises the immune function causing many other less obvious effects.
Now to be fair, not all free radicals are bad, the immune system generates free radicals to destroy agents that cause infection and they are also used to stimulate cell growth and division, so exposure to free radicals is a part of life. However, the body must be able to regulate this free radical exposure and avoid the undesirable effects of excessive free radicals, and this is where antioxidants come into play.
An antioxidant is an agent that can work against the damage of oxidative stress by protecting other compounds by drawing a free radical to itself and thus removing it from being able to do damage elsewhere. There are nutritive antioxidants, of which common examples include Vitamin A, C, E and minerals like copper, zinc and selenium.
There are also non-nutritive compounds called phytochemicals, derived from nature, which have very strong antioxidant properties. We can also receive a small amount from zoochemicals, which are derived from animal sources like fish. Phytochemicals give us a large proportion of our antioxidant consumption and include sub groups like carotenoids, lignans, flavonoids and isoflavones that you may have come across, each with their own specific benefit (eg: carotenoids are important for eye health).
Unfortunately you can’t just buy a bottle of phytochemicals as they are generally available only by consuming whole foods, and having food as much as possible in their natural state will ensure the best quality of antioxidants as cooking and processing may damage the quality of some antioxidants.
In summary, antioxidants are very important to the wellbeing of our bodies and the point is to encourage you to include a variety of fresh and whole foods into our diet to ensure optimum health from the damaging effects of free radicals.
The Lose baby weight plans includes nutrient and mineral antioxidants in their healthy mummy smoothies and have a fabulous range of recipes that include a range of nutritious food groups to ensure you have a diet high in antioxidants.
This article was written by Nutritionist Rebecca Riley
If you are ready to lose weight then the Lose Baby Weight plans offer a healthy and safe exercise and diet routine that are safe in breastfeeding
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