Oxygen is vital to life. We simply could not survive without it. It is also a highly reactive substance and is responsible for a process known as “oxidation”, which surprisingly, can actually cause damage to our cells. Oxidation is unavoidable, and is happening to every human body on the planet on a daily basis. The problem is not so much the fact that oxidation is happening, but rather how much of it is going on.
What Is Oxidation, And How Can Anti-Oxidants Help?
Oxidation is another word for degeneration. If you cut an apple in half and expose it to the air, it will turn brown. This is an example of oxidation in action. However, if you squeeze lime juice onto the apple, the process is slowed down. This is because the lime juice contains vitamin C which is an anti-oxidant. By adding the lime juice into the equation, the rate of oxidation is much slower, taking a longer time for degeneration to occur. Cells in our body are also vulnerable to oxidation, and so by eating a diet rich in anti-oxidants, we can help to slow down the process of cell degeneration.
Why Are Anti-Oxidants Important?
Cell degeneration causes aging, not just of our cells, but also the organs that they make up. Research has shown that eating a diet rich in anti-oxidants may help to prevent the development of devastating diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, and slow down the progression of other age related conditions such as problems with vision. Anti-oxidants also boost the immune system, and protect against damage caused by exposure to environmental pollutants such as cigarette smoke and air pollution, effectively slowing down the rate at which our cells age.
Which Foods Contain Anti-Oxidants?
The main anti-oxidants are vitamins A, C and E, and the precursor of vitamin A, beta carotene.
Vitamin C is abundant in fruit and vegetables, but it can be destroyed by heat, so it’s important to include plenty of fresh fruit and some raw vegetables in your daily diet. Vitamin E can be found in nuts, seeds, oils and wholegrains such as brown rice. Beta carotene is found in red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables.
How Can A Naturopath Help?
A naturopath can examine your diet to help you achieve optimum nutrition. With the use of food diaries and nutritional testing, you will get a better picture of which vitamins and minerals may be missing from your diet. Biochemical anti-oxidant profiles may also be an option. These tests can measure the levels of beta carotene and vitamins C and E in your blood, and show how well your anti-oxidant enzyme systems are working. This may be helpful for people wanting to increase the amounts of anti-oxidants in their diet. A naturopath can devise a tailor made eating plan and prescribe supplements relevant to your unique, individual needs.
Integrative wellness testing is one of the services routinely offered by our clinic, and nutrition and dietary advice underpins every client consultation. Click around our site, or call us for a chat about our full range of nutritional services, and find out more about how our experienced naturopathic practitioners can help you to achieve optimum nutrition.