09 Jan The Power of Antioxidants: Anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and more.
Ever wondered why you are told to consume more vitamin Cs after catching a flu? Vitamin C, among many other types of antioxidants, helps to stimulate different immune mechanisms including fighting off viruses and bacteria. Besides improving your immunity, antioxidants has many health-boosting properties.
Antioxidants, as shared in our previous article, are natural or man-made substances that neutralise free radicals which are by-products of natural metabolic processes, UV rays, cigarette smoke and air pollution etc. Free radicals in excess, due to its reactive nature, cause oxidative stress to our body which is linked to the induction of several chronic illnesses and cell aging.
5 Key Benefits of Antioxidants
Besides being known as the immunity booster, what are the other benefits of antioxidants that you have yet to find out?
- Reduce inflammation
When we talk about inflammation, we tend to associate it with swollen and painful joints. Truth to be told, the implications of inflammation are much more extensive than problematic joints.
Inflammation is a biological response activated when your body detects a foreign particle, which can be classified into acute and chronic inflammation. Scientific research has shown that inflammation is involved in the progression of several chronic diseases, including diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
Antioxidants namely beta-carotene and vitamin D, found in apricots and blackberries, reduce inflammation and the risk of viral infections.
- Prevent degenerative diseases
By neutralizing free radicals, antioxidants are believed to help defray the effects of mental aging. Antioxidants, such as vitamin E found in almond nuts and sunflower seeds; and vitamin C found in strawberries and cranberries, enhance nerve cells’ abilities to carry out cognitive functions which contribute to the slowdown of Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease.
- Delay skin aging
Antioxidants, in particular vitamin B3, C and E, are useful in preventing premature skin aging. Due to their small molecular weight, the antioxidants are able to penetrate the skin and induce collagen production which in turn help to maintain skin texture and minimize wrinkles. Good sources of vitamin B3 include fatty fish like salmon, green leafy vegetables and tea leaves.
- Maintain bone health
Antioxidants, mainly vitamin A, D and K, play a pivotal role in maintaining normal bone remodelling and bone health. They prevent inflammatory reaction and bone loss by inhibiting the programmed death of bone cells. Among different fruits and vegetables that serve as good sources of vitamins, carrots top the list with vitamin A. For vitamin D, an effective way is to go outdoors and enjoy some gentle sunlight. Alternatively, you can add some dairy products or mushrooms to your diet. Natural sources of vitamin K include blueberries and pomegranate.
- Improve vision
Antioxidants slow down the progression of age-related macular degeneration which is a common cause of permanent vision loss in adults over 60.
Carotenoids, most commonly found in carrots, form vitamin A in the body that regulates the pigment produced by the retina and protect the eyes against damage from the sun while maintaining low-light and colour vision. While age and family history are factors that cannot be altered, dietary changes which involve an increase in intake of vitamin C and E are believed to be useful in preventing cataracts.
While antioxidants boast many health-boosting properties, different types of antioxidants are effective in varying extent. Besides the commonly known vitamins, other substances such as carotenoids and minerals also act as antioxidants. It is most recommended to include a variety of fruits and vegetables, which serve as rich sources of antioxidants, in your everyday diet.