The term “anti-oxidants” keeps cropping up more and more frequently these days – not only do they feature in lots of advertising in the nutrition business, the beauty industry is also championing the power of antioxidants for creams, masks and serums.
But what exactly are we talking about here? To understand how antioxidants work in the body and why they apparently do us so much good, we first have to understand what “oxidation” is and why the so-called “free radicals” in the body have to be captured.
Free radicals are molecules containing oxygen whose chemical structure is missing an electron, which makes then extremely unstable. For this reason, they are thus always on the hunt for a suitable electron so that they can become complete and thus stable again. To achieve this, they act recklessly and extremely rapidly; the electron they require is simply torn away from the first molecule that comes along, whether it happens to be healthy or already damaged, and the molecule that has just been attacked can itself become a free radical in turn. This sets off a dangerous chain reaction in which healthy cells are destroyed and ultimately even organs and/or our DNA can be damaged.
Our bodies are constantly being attacked by free radicals. While this is to a certain extent normal, we are nowadays increasingly exposed to external factors that can encourage the formation of harmful free radicals:
- environmental toxins (exhaust gases, solvents, pesticides, chemicals)
- a diet that is unbalanced (too much meat and fast food with too little fruit and vegetables)
- harmful foods, such as e.g. trans fats and refined sugar)
- excessive sun exposure (UV rays)
- stimulants such as alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs
- physical and mental stress
Oxidation & oxidative stress
This “electron theft” by the free radicals is known as “oxidation”. This is not fundamentally dangerous; our bodies can intercept a certain amount of these aggressive compounds and thus prevent possible cell damage. Only when an excess of free radicals occurs can they cause us harm. When oxidation exceeds a certain level and affects the body too severely, this is known as “oxidative stress”. Many studies have shown that this leads to cell damage, plays a key role in the ageing process, and prompts the development of many diseases.
As the name indeed suggests, antioxidants counter this destructive oxidation. They provide the free radicals with the electron they are missing (“capturing” these) without becoming a free radical themselves, and oxidative stress is thus reduced.
Increasing your antioxidant intake
To stay healthy over the long term and to protect your own cells, it is worth making sure that you consume enough antioxidants in your day-to-day life. If you have a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruit and vegetables, you will generally be well supplied with antioxidants. The best-known anti-oxidants include vitamins C and E, carotenoids and the trace elements selenium and zinc, as well as secondary phytochemicals such as flavonoids, phytooestrogens, polyphenols and sulphides. These are all to be found in many varieties of fruit and vegetables.
The 15 foods containing the most antioxidants
- Acai berries
- Sweet potatoes
- Citrus fruits
- Red grapes
The blueberries (also known as bilberries) that grow in this country are one of the richest sources of antioxidants that there is; not only do they contain the highest absolute percentage of antioxidants of all the berries, they also have more of the specific types of antioxidants, including phenols, flavonoids and anthocyanins.
Full antioxidant power: PURE DELIGHT Glow Boost Shots
We make use of the full antioxidant power of blueberries in our PURE DELIGHT Glow Boost Shots and we recommend them to anyone who would like to do something for the beauty and radiance of their skin in a completely natural way. The tasty shots combine purely natural, highly concentrated anti-oxidants sourced from blueberries, acai berries, matcha tea and lemons.