April 7th is World Health Day. This day provides an opportunity to start collective action to protect people’s health and well-being. This year’s theme is Ageing and Health. Ageing affects each and every one of us but good health throughout life can help older men and women lead full and productive lives and allow them to age gracefully.
Since naturopathic medicine emphasizes prevention, this topic is particularly relevant. We would like to shed some light on one of the major players in anti-ageing…antioxidants.
An antioxidant is a substance that is capable of countering damage in human tissues. The key source of damage in the body is free radicals, which cause oxidation. This is akin to when oils become rancid, apples turn brown and iron rusts…imagine this happening to the cells of your face! In the body, oxidation stress happens when free radicals, which are harmful molecules, go beyond the body’s anti-oxidant defences.
Free radicals can arise from many sources, both inside and outside our bodies. Environmentally, they come from pollution, sunlight, strenuous exercise, x-rays, smoking and alcohol.
Within the body, they are formed during normal breathing, metabolism and inflammation.
The effects of free radical build-up include cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis and cataracts as well as wrinkles.
It is impossible to avoid the the damage of free radicals so it is crucial to make sure your arsenal of anti-oxidants is strong in order to minimize the damage.
Key sources of antioxidants include: Vitamins A,C,E, zinc, selenium and beta-carotene.
You can get these antioxidants either through supplement form or through your diet. Some antioxidant rich foods include: berries, broccoli, garlic, green tea, tomatoes, red grapes, spinach, carrots and whole grains.
Be creative and find different ways of incorporating these foods into your diet everyday.