So, what are antioxidants? Why are they good for us anyway?
Antioxidants slow down or prevent cell damage - to be more specific, they can prevent the cell damage that is caused by the buildup of free radicals. Free radicals are produced by the body’s cells as they process food and respond to their environment. In proper amounts, free radicals carry out many important functions in our bodies. However, when free radicals build up and aren’t removed, it can cause your cells to enter a state called oxidative stress. If oxidative stress is prolonged, it can lead to DNA damage and even cell death.
Luckily, antioxidants prevent this by neutralizing the excess free radicals. In doing so, antioxidants protect you from (or at least significantly reduce your chances of developing) conditions that are caused by free radical buildup, such as:
- Arthritis, a condition characterized by the painful swelling and tenderness of the joints
- Certain types of cancer - specific antioxidants help reduce the chances of certain types of cancers
- Alzehimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, which are linked to nerve cell damage in the brain
- Heart disease and strokes - free radicals encourage cholesterol to stick to the walls of the arteries in the heart, which is neutralized by antioxidants
- Vision loss caused by deterioration of the cells in the eyes
Now that we’ve established why antioxidants are so great, the next question is: where do you get them? Next week we will explore this!