People are always over enthusiastic when it comes to food. They tend to believe in several myths which are the result of their anxiety and improper knowledge regarding foods and nutrients present in these foods. Let us look at one specific group of nutrients, which comprises of both macro and micro-nutrients and plays vital roles in balancing human life and also the best way to obtain these nutrients from dietary sources.
Antioxidants, as the name says, they are anti-“oxidants” (i.e.) they are active substances present in the food that acts against highly reactive oxidative substances called free radicals and prevents our body from stress related oxidative damage.
Every metabolic process carried out in our body releases highly reactive substances called free radicals. Due to their unstable nature, they tend to react with every living cell around them and start causing oxidative damage and degenerates the functioning capacity of those cells and tissues and on a longer run can even affect the entire organ or organ system. In the presence of antioxidants, they act as a shield and prevent these free radicals from reaching the cells. Some of the strongest antioxidants include Vitamin A, C, E, Zinc, Selenium, Lycopene, Manganese & Glutathione (tripeptide protein molecule). These are some of the major reasons why you should include antioxidants in your diet.
IMMUNE ENHANCEMENT: These nutrients not only scavenge free radicals, but also act like natural antibiotics and enhance the baseline immune function of the body and protect our body from several common health disorders like fever, common cold, flu, any sort of inflammation etc. Henceforth these nutrients are also called as immuno-nutrients. Along with the above listed antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids and a good amount of protein; especially amino acids like arginine and glutamine have been proven to improve the whole body immune function.
WOUND HEALING: The above listed nutrients have proven to enhance the wound healing capacity of an individual. Along with wound healing properties, they also enhance collagen synthesis (vitamin C) and also help in fighting against the aging process. Thereby these nutrients are also considered as anti-aging nutrients as well as wound healing nutrients. Along with these nutrients, supplementing a high protein can boost the wound healing in people with diabetes and also for people who are under severe trauma like road accidents, fractures and even burns.
REGENERATION: Whenever any antioxidant acts on a free radical, then they get oxidized and their function is over and they need to be excreted. Whereas certain anti oxidant nutrients like vitamin E and C not only acts on the free radicals, but they also tend to act on the other oxidized antioxidants and regenerate them to further carry out their processes and there by boost their functional activity in the body.
Antioxidants are widely distributed in several varieties of fruits and vegetables that are commonly available in our environment. The antioxidant content in foods is at their peak only when the food item is fresh and raw. Cooking process or even while extracting their juices, there are chances for a huge loss in these nutrients. Try to prefer whole fruits (if possible with their skin) to prevent the losses of these nutrients. Vegetables that can be made into a salad are a better choice. Even nuts are a good source of antioxidants. The skin of nuts are a good source of fiber, hence avoid excessive soaking and peeling of the skin of the nuts.
When the diet is poor in antioxidants, the free radical scavenging process does not take place and they begin to attack all the cells and tissues leading to tissue degeneration, early signs of aging, poor immune status and ultimately affect the entire functioning of the body.