Daily, we are subjected to stresses which cause free radicals to form and can increase damage to our cells. This damage is linked to everything from wrinkling of the skin and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, to macular degeneration, cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The free-radical theory of ageing (FRTA) states that: “organisms age because cells accumulate free radical damage over time”.
So what causes this harm?
There are the usual suspects such as smoking, fatty diet, alcohol, stress and environmental pollution. But free radical damage can also be the product of exercise, sunlight and a by-product of normal metabolism. Simply put living life causes us to oxidise. And this is where antioxidants come in.
Think about an apple, which has been cut in half. It’s bright white and crisp-looking, but left exposed to air and it begins to brown – this is free radical damage. A simple way to stop (or slow) this process is by squeezing some lemon juice onto the apple, which acts as a protective antioxidant that slows the browning – or ageing – process.
A leading antioxidant scientist and author of The Antioxidant Miracle Dr Lester Packer says, “Scientists now believe that free radicals are causal factors in nearly every known disease, from heart disease to arthritis to cancer to cataracts. In fact, free radicals are a major culprit in the aging process itself.”
‘So, short of bathing in lemon juice, how can we increase antioxidant protection in our diet?’
While we can – and should – get our antioxidants from the skins and seeds of fruits and vegetables (the darker the colour, the richer the antioxidant source) as well as some spices and herbs, we can also ingest supplements for additional support. The most commonly known antioxidants are vitamins A, C, E, zinc and selenium, but we can also get them from our diet in the form of polyphenols.
Foods rich in antioxidants, such as red grape skin, grape seed extract and green tea, along with red wine and olive oil, contain high quantities of superior health-giving substances called polyphenols.
If you’d like to know which fruits and vegetables have the most antioxidant activity, then we suggest looking up the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) Scale. It’s recommended we ingest around 3000-5000 ORAC units per day in order to gain the protective benefits of antioxidants, but it could be more likely that 12,000 units per day are required for optimal health.
If you’re a keen cook, the bright yellow Indian spice, turmeric has a very high ORAC rating, while the other ingredients, pine bark and resveratrol (from Japanese Knotweed) are also powerful antioxidants. Superfoods like pomegranates, blueberries, acai, goji berries and noni juice have been lauded for their superior antioxidant-giving properties. But even the humble prune also has a lot to offer. Kale, spinach and garlic also make a noteworthy appearance, while cloves and cinnamon rate consistently top on the various ORAC scales, (although the amount required from these spices to afford us protection is more than most of us would care to consume!).
In other great news, quality chocolate or cocoa also contains very good amounts of antioxidants and there is some antioxidant activity to be found in coffee too – just remember not to overdo it!
In the fight against free radicals and cell damage Res-V Plus and new Res-V Ultimate both pack quite a punch as super antioxidant formulas.