To enjoy a long life of optimal health, we must have a complete and aggressive nutrient strategy. I know you’ve all heard the term “antioxidant” by now, but I’m sure many of you are not fully aware of just what they are or what they do, and why they’re so vitally important to our health and longevity.
Simply put, antioxidants are electron donors that are capable of neutralizing or preventing the potential damage caused by oxidation in our bodies. Oxidation is a naturally occurring metabolic process wherein complex molecules within our tissues lose one or more of their electrons.
In a violent attempt to rebalance and regain these lost electrons, oxidized molecules, also known as free radicals, are capable of cumulatively doing great damage to the delicate tissues within our cells and elsewhere by tearing electrons from other molecules. When adequate amounts of nutrients are present, they donate electrons and quickly rebalance the harmful free radical molecule, minimizing tissue damage.
Medical research is now showing that the cumulative effect of uncontrolled free radical damage over time is the basis of many chronic degenerative conditions, and is, in fact, the basis of much of the aging process itself.
Normal cellular metabolism, along with other naturally occurring exposures such as ultra violet light from the sun, creates free radicals in our bodies every day. These include such free radicals as superoxide and hydroxyl radicals, hypchlorite and hydrogen peroxide radicals along with lipid peroxides and even nitric oxide radicals. But these naturally occurring free radicals are usually easily kept in check by antioxidants also produced by the body itself. These natural substances include superoxide dismutase (S.O.D.), methionine reductase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase.
Free Radical Damage
Free radical damage is one of the leading preventable causes of chronic degenerative conditions and aging.
Naturally occurring free radicals would not normally compromise our longevity and our health, but because of the modern high tech world in which we live, combined with poor lifestyle choices we tend to make we become susceptible to free radical damage.
Our fast paced lifestyle choices and the stress that comes along with them coupled with air and water pollution, high fat diets, tobacco smoke, caffeine, excess alcohol consumption, pesticides, preservatives, food additives, excessive UV radiation, chronic dehydration, poor bowel function.... the list goes on and on... all conspire to create an overwhelming avalanche of additional unnecessary free radicals, far out-stripping the body’s ability to produce enough natural resistance to protect our cells from damage.
From our diet
We can obtain some important nutrients from our diet. Vitamin A is found in high concentrations in such foods as butter, egg yolks, sweet potatoes, asparagus, cantaloupes, spinach, broccoli and apricots. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, berries, sweet peppers, tomatoes, cabbage and melons. Foods rich in Vitamin E include whole grains, sunflowers seeds, almonds and peanuts.
Others that we can get from a good diet include Zinc found in beef and chicken, seafood, carrots, peas, oatmeal and nuts and seeds raised in soil rich in Selenium.
In recent years the acai berry from the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil has been rediscovered. We say rediscovered because the fruit has been used by the indigenous people in the region longer than anyone can remember.
A couple of surfers from California discovered the energizing effect of acai when they visited Brazil on a surfing trip. They are now the owners of Sambazon, the importer of Acai to the United States. Sambazon products can now be found on the refrigerated shelves at your local health food store.
Super Healthy, Super Tasty Superfood
Dr. Perricone, the noted author of the New York Times bestseller "The Perricone Promise" has hailed Acai as the world's number one superfood because of its powerful nutritional properties, including antioxidants. You may have seen him on "Oprah".
The latest scientific research has shown that many of the most important antioxidants, particularly those antioxidants that are specialized to minimize damage within the cell, are not present in high concentrations in a typical North American diet or are broken down in the digestive process. Some of these important antioxidants like glutathione, alpha lipoic acid, and co-enzyme Q 10 must be taken as nutritional supplements.