What Are Antioxidants? Why We Need Them?

by OkayHealthy
Antioxidants

Antioxidants are specific substances that can be used to prevent and slow down the damage to cells, which can be caused by unstable molecules like free radicals produced as a result of environmental and any other pressure.

Sometimes, antioxidants are referred to as scavengers. Antioxidant molecules are found explicitly in specific vegetables, fruits, and some types of teas, which can help in fighting the free radicals. Free radicals are the cells that are produced as a by-product of several reactions inclusive of breathing and other external stimuli as sunlight, alcohol, the smoke of a cigarette, and pollution.

Sources for antioxidants can either be natural or artificial. Some diets, including plant-based food, are considered to be the rich sources of antioxidants. Some of the antioxidants, like endogenous antioxidants, are produced by the body itself, while antioxidants obtained from exterior sources are called exogenous antioxidants.

ROS (reactive oxygen species) can result in oxidative stress (inability of the body to remove free radicals), which can be linked to Parkinson’s disease, emphysema, immune deficiency, respiratory disease, cancer, stroke, arthritis, several ischemic or inflammatory diseases, and heart diseases.

Factors which can contribute to increases in oxidative stress are:

Internal – inflammation

External – cigarette smoke, exposure to UV radiation, and pollution.

Antioxidants are found to be helpful in the neutralization of free radicals present in the body, which is considered to be vital in boosting the overall body health.

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of antioxidants on the human body.

Benefits of antioxidants:

Skin health:

According to an internationally leading skin expert and facialist, Abigail James, antioxidants are considered to be the essential components when the aging processes start and prevent skin damage in the long run.

The collagen present in the tissues can be damaged by free radicals causing:

  • Premature aging
  • Wrinkles of skin
  • Fine lines on the face
  • Dryness of the skin.

Skincare ingredients, nutrition, and supplements that are rich in antioxidants are essential for the prevention of cell damage and restoration of health balance.

To brighten, repair, and rejuvenate the damaged skin, incorporation of antioxidants into the diet can also make a big difference.

Protection of skin from reactive oxygen species can be carried out through a combination of beta-carotene and vitamin E, which makes a powerful antioxidant.

Immunity:

Immunity

Abnormalities in the function of the immune system can lead to inflammation but, sometimes, inflammation is necessary for the function of the immune system. Inflammation is also linked with some diseases as arthritis, cancer, aging, and heart problems. Antioxidants are essential for the protection of cells from the effects of free radicals and the reduction of the overabundance of the body’s inflammation.

Reversal of aging process:

Reversal of aging process

By neutralization of free radicals, antioxidants can not only limit the internal damage on account of aging but can also restrict the outward effects.

In the aging process, the skin is the most damaged organ leading to laxity, wrinkles, loose texture, and dehydration, which can be managed by the use of antioxidants and foods rich in the component of antioxidants.

Improvement in the vision:

Good Nutrition

Carotenoids are the pigments that are found in yellow, orange, and dark green vegetables and fruits. Carotenoids help in protection from sun damage. After the consumption of carotenoids, vitamin A is produced, which can regulate the pigments produced by the eye’s retina, which is a layer for light sensitivity.

Regulation of vitamin A helps in:

  • Protection of eyes from harmful sun radiations and sun damage,
  • Maintenance of eye functionality,
  • Improvement of vision functionality in low light,
  • Color vision.

Mental health:

Healthy Lifestyle

In several studies, a link between the concentration of free radicals and mood disorders as depression and anxiety has been discussed. Antioxidants can work for combating the neuroinflammation caused on account of damage caused by free radicals.

Neuroinflammation is a precursor for several neurodegenerative diseases as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. By reduction in the number of free radicals present in the body, symptoms of depression and anxiety also decrease.

Types and sources of antioxidants:

Antioxidants are a group of substances that can help in several body processes. Different types of antioxidants are:

  • Manganese
  • Selenium
  • Lycopene
  • Vitamin A, C, and E
  • Beta-carotene
  • Lutein
  • Zeaxanthin.

In plant-based food,

  • Phytoestrogens
  • Polyphenols
  • Catechins
  • Flavones
  • Flavonoids

are present in the form of phytonutrients.

Foods rich in antioxidants are in variety.

  • Dairy products, liver, and eggs can produce vitamin A,
  • Most vegetables, fruits as bell peppers, oranges, and berries are abundant in vitamin C,
  • Leafy vegetables, sunflower, seeds, and nuts provide vitamin E,
  • Fruits and vegetables with bright colors as spinach, mangoes, peas, and carrots are rich in beta-carotene,
  • Watermelon and tomatoes contain a high concentration of lycopene,
  • Cheese, eggs, nuts, legumes, whole grains, wheat, corn, and rice can be an excellent source for selenium.
  • Dark chocolate, pomegranates, red grapes, black and green teas, eggplants, legumes, and goji berries are the other rich sources of antioxidants.

Conclusion:

Antioxidants are essential components for the protection of the body from harmful ions and free radicals. Due to the extraordinary health benefits of antioxidants, they are considered to be the essential component of daily life diet. Antioxidants are compounds that protect the body against chronic illnesses and infections. They have a crucial role in the inhibition of oxidation and protect the cells from the effects of free radicals.

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