Part 2: Foods Rich In Antioxidants

Hi friends, Happy Friday! Happy Guru Parab and Kartik Purnima too!

I am so happy to be back after a gap of two weeks. Was taking a pause with family and the added classes/studies for Certified Personal Trainer from American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) did not make it any easier. It is a lot crazy right now and I really want to insert a crying emoji for better effects but I don’t think I can do that on my laptop.

Anyways, how have you been? Hope life is going crazily good for you 😊

Today’s post, the part deux of Antioxidants, has been long due. Do read the part 1 of the Antioxidants Series here if you missed it or need to recall something. In it, we already understood what are free radicals, what is oxidation as well as oxidative stress and, what exactly are antioxidants.

There are several factors that can shake the balance of free radicals/antioxidants and cause the oxidative stress. These factors could be:

  • Pollution
  • Smoking, drugs and alcohol
  • Radiations
  • Poor diet choices
  • Stress
  • High blood pressure
  • Infections such as bacterial, fungal or viral
  • Excessive intake of minerals like copper, zinc, iron, magnesium as well as of Vitamins C and E
  • Exercising too much

Antioxidants are essential for our survival and we need to support our body in keeping this balancing act, strong. Without antioxidants, major damage would happen to our body and it won’t survive for long!

How?

Do not worry much. It is not possible to completely avoid the damage done by oxidative stress. However, there are things we could do to minimize their effects on our body and ensure a disease free, long, healthy life.

One way is through our diet. Antioxidants are found abundantly in various foods, apart from being produced in our body on its own. Make sure to have a healthy, well-balance diet and include the foods below in it:

  • Rajma (kidney beans)
  • Dark leafy greens – spinach, methi, kale, broccoli, tomato, bok choy, lemon grass
  • Beans – broad beans (sem fali)
  • Beetroot, carrot, olives, onions, garlic
  • Amla (Indian gooseberry), lemon and other citrus fruits
  • Berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, goji berries
  • Cherries, prunes, stone apple (bael fruit), avocadoes, bananas, pomegranate, apricots, grapes
  • Nuts
  • Cocoa or dark chocolate (80% and above cocao content)
  • Artichokes – steaming them ensures the best antioxidant content
  • Red or purple cabbage – 4 times the regular cooked cabbage due to the red pigment anthocyanin
  • Microgreens
  • Barley flour (bajra)
  • Turmeric
  • Vitamin E, C and melatonin

Antioxidants are easy to add to the diet. There are so many options to suit all budgets and tastes. You don’t even have to calculate much, there are two simple rules:

  1. Add a variety to your diet
  2. Add colours (preferably in veggies)

Other than diet, there are a few other ways to decrease the oxidative stress in our body. These are:

  • Care for the environment and the Earth. Doing our own small bits towards reducing pollution and wastage of resources go a long way. Being mindful of our actions and their consequences to the planet/animals/humanity in general, keeps us happy and safe too
  • A regular exercise routine at moderate intensity works wonders
  • Quitting smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke, both
  • Quit or reduce alcohol consumption
  • Do not overeat and keep a routine for meals/snacks
  • Reducing our exposure to chemicals, pesticides, cleaning agents etc helps
  • Sunscreens help and I, personally struggle with this one…I always forget to put it on and these days, I have been trying to be mindful for it 😊
  • Adequate sleep – differs from person to person but 6 hours of good sleep is adequate for most of us
  • Stress management

In the end, the important thing is to take care of yourself, your loved ones and Mother Earth. We will automatically be taken care of!

It is also time we start paying Mother Earth back for all that she gives us so patiently…to help us live and thrive even if we choose to do nothing in return. Not fair to give her nothing in return, wouldn’t you say?

Hope you found the series on antioxidants useful and it gave you food for thought…and some actual food ideas! Do join me on Instagram for regular updates on Health, Nutrition, Fitness and Motivation, here:

https://www.instagram.com/healthcoach_smita/

Till next Friday,

Love, Health & Peace

The Power Of Antioxidants

Hi friends, happy Friday!

How was the week that went by? All good at my end too, thank you.

Today’s post is on antioxidants. Yes, the powerful antioxidants which are supposed to be a magical cure for everything, just like immunity these days. No, no, there is no sarcasm intended here, they both are truly magical and crucial to our survival.

And they are closely related, antioxidants and immunity. In fact, the whole human body is magical…so precise and self-sufficient. Hundreds of chemical reactions and synchronized movements makes it magical and I often find myself overwhelmed with the complexity of it all.

e.g. – Did you know that a human heart beats 1,00,000 times a day and the whole process of one beat and the blood pumping through our heart in itself involves an orchestral rhythm.  It involves 4 heart chambers, electric signaling in its nodes and multiple valves/blood vessels working in sync …and I have not even included lungs here!

Anyways, more on that some other day. Let’s come back to antioxidants for now.

First, let’s get familiar with free radicals and oxidative stress.

Free Radicals

Free radicals are molecules in our body with uneven no. of electrons. This uneven no. of electrons makes them unstable and they look for other molecule to attach themselves to. To create long-chain molecules. This process called oxidation, could be beneficial or it could be harmful.

Beneficial because our immunity depends on it. It fights the infections by attaching and de-activating the incoming infections just as well.

When there are too many free radicals in our body, it causes oxidative stress and high oxidative stress in our body, is not a good news. Like most things, there needs to be a balance.

Excess of free radicals or high oxidative stress in our body is linked to many diseases and even damage to our DNA structure. The other damages include:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular illnesses including atherosclerosis (hardening of blood vessels)
  • Cancer
  • Inflammation and related conditions
  • High BP
  • Neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
  • Aging

We don’t want all this damage, right? We want to keep a balance between the free radicals and the antioxidants in our body. Now the question is how to keep a balance.

Let’s get to know the antioxidants now.

What Are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in our body and keep a balance. Our body knows this and has the whole system in place for us, already.

However, lot of factors manage to shake this balance. These factors could range from:

  • Pollution
  • Smoking, drugs and alcohol
  • Radiations
  • Poor diet choices
  • Stress
  • High blood pressure
  • Infections such as bacterial, fungal or viral
  • Excessive intake of minerals like copper, zinc, iron, magnesium as well as of Vitamins C and E
  • Exercising too much

Now we know that antioxidants are essential for our survival. We also know that our body has a system in place for generating oxidants. In fact, all plants and animals have such a system in place. How can we help this system or strengthen it, in our body?

Through diet. And better lifestyle choices, of course.

Too much of anything, even of good antioxidants is bad. High-dose supplements should be avoided unless your doctor prescribed them for a specific reason.

And that is why having food rich in antioxidants is generally considered safer. It is very rare to consume high-dosages through diet alone and a good diet brings about a whole cluster of other good nutrients, apart from antioxidants.

I feel this post is long enough for today. Now we do understand various terms like oxidation, oxidative stress, free radicals, antioxidants etc. better and how the whole process works.

I shall cover the rest in my next post, next Friday. It would tell us how we can improve our antioxidant intake through diet and by making better lifestyle choices.

If you want to join me on Instagram for regular updates on Health, Nutrition, Fitness and Motivation, I am here:

https://www.instagram.com/healthcoach_smita/

Till next Friday

Love, Health & Peace