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What are antioxidants good for?

Updated: Jun 18

You understand the importance of a well-rounded diet in order to look and feel your best. You eat your veggies, you may drink your greens, and you hope you're getting enough protein in. What are antioxidants good for, and what place do they have in your food diary?


vegetable juice recipe

Antioxidant foods, serums, and powders permeate their marketing spheres through clever wording, influencer code-sharing, and subscription services that all look mighty tempting as you fight the natural process that is...getting old. "What are antioxidants good for?" feels just as fitting a search phrase as "fountain of youth near me."


By definition, an antioxidant is "a substance that inhibits oxidation, especially one used to counteract the deterioration of stored food products (Oxford Languages)." In normal-people-speak, an antioxidant stops the damage of cells by free radicals which are produced through the oxidation process involved in metabolism.


Your body, by way of its operation in today's world, is constantly exposed to free radicals not only through the process of ingesting and breaking down food for nutrition, but also through the air we breathe in our environment, and even the products with which we choose to clean our homes.


In short, there's no avoiding free radicals these days. Never fear, I'm here to quell the alarms going off in your brain as a (yet, another) wellness influencer scares you into purging your home and body of everything you currently have in favour of an over-priced meal subscription or supplement service. Let's get down to what are antioxidants good for, where you can find them, and how to easily incorporate them into your daily life.

 

Skin Health

Antioxidants support the body's natural ability to repair cell damage by preventing free radicals from actually accessing cells. Antioxidants are like the buddy you had to go to the mall with to protect you from that group of gossiping girls- they stop the gaggle of free radicals getting to your cells before they can throw an onslaught of viscous insults. 


Antioxidants allow the integrity of your skin's cells to remain intact as your cells continue the processes of age reversal such as: correcting sun damage, replenishing collagen to prevent wrinkles, and keeping a radiant skin tone


More Energy

If you work out regularly, engage in recreational or competitive sport, or just enjoy getting out for a run in the warmer months, antioxidants can improve your performance during these activities. Antioxidants improve insulin sensitivity and the amount of fat cells flowing through your bloodstream, which are indicators of good health overall. 


Antioxidants can enhance the amount of oxygen your body uptakes during aerobic exercise, meaning your endurance levels potentially increase. Who doesn't love not feeling totally winded after the first ten minutes of activity? (I will certainly raise my hand enthusiastically for that one). 


Moreover, an antioxidant-rich diet demonstrates a positive effect on how well your body uses carbohydrates for energy. Meaning that you use your food intake more effectively, and store less excess as body fat. You can keep your slim physique with antioxidant-rich foods in your daily food diary.


Stronger DNA

Here's one for any male who is worried about the overall decrease in sperm quality over the last ten years: antioxidants are being actively used in what's called antioxidant therapy to improve sperm quality- which is particularly useful as sperm counts are clearly on the decline in North America and parts of Europe


While research in this area has been conducted on smaller groups (to date), and needs larger bodies with more parameters to measure outcomes, antioxidants working together have largely shown a positive effect on male reproductive health which can potentially help couples who are starting their conception journey and will share the prioritization of reproductive health equally. 


Disease Prevention

With antioxidants' way of functioning (being your buddy in a swarm of gossipy girls at the mall, remember?), it is evident that a lack thereof can weaken the body's immune system and lead to a decreased defense against disease


Diets that are high in fruits, vegetables, and legumes- especially vegetarian and Mediterranean diets- have been associated with a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, and even an increased chance of tumor prevention


 

fresh juice on the table

So, where can you find antioxidants in your day to day life? 

It might seem silly-simple, but you're getting most of your antioxidant needs through your dietary intake. A rule of thumb that I have given to every client, in my five years (and counting) experience as a nutritional therapist and personal trainer, is. to include two different colours from fruits and/ or vegetables at every eating opportunity. Whether you are a frequent, smaller portioned person or you enjoy three robust, main meals...you need colour to get your antioxidant levels topped up. St. John's Health published this really handy PDF list of foods that are potent antioxidant carriers. On it, you'll find everything from cranberries and raspberries, pinto beans to pecans, to black/ green tea and cacao


How can you easily get more antioxidants? 

I'm going to ruffle the feathers of every wellness influencer with a mass following: drinking a greens powder or sucking down an antioxidant super-gel isn't going to cut it.


Antioxidants are most effective when they are combined with each other.


Vitamins C and E work well when combined with resveratrol or quercetin.

So a meal that combines citrus fruit/ berries with almonds or sunflower seed butter/ peanut butter are a powerhouse combination with a host of benefits.


You can enjoy the benefits of CoQ10 with resveratrol if you have a delicious dinner out of roasted salmon with a side of leafy greens and a glass of red wine.


Flavanoids might decrease the risk of heart disease, so consider this your go-ahead from a nutritional therapist to have your dark chocolate as part of your snack...every day.

 

Still not sure about how to reduce the oxidative stress that you're exposed to every day?

fruits and vegetables for juicing

You can get the help that actually works for you through the Empowered Hour.


Get specific on your needs and circumstances, outline your goals, and come away with a clear plan of action that lets you take control of your health for present you, as well as future you.






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