Elixir of youth: Antioxidants

It is essential to consume foods full of antioxidants to prevent diseases, stop cell aging and have a young skin.

So what are these antioxidants?

We call antioxidants molecules that fight the damage caused by free radicals in our body. Free radicals, which are produced naturally in our body with each breath, can be summarized as molecules that age cells and are associated with many diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular and Alzheimer's. While our body produces our own antioxidants to fight these free radicals, it uses many foods to increase this power.

Stress, smoking; exposure to air pollution, environmental toxins or UV rays from the sun, infections and intense and prolonged exercise are the most important reasons for the increase in free radical formation. Or in other words, situations that increase our need for antioxidants even more... Since these situations touch our lives in some way; In order to protect our cells and stay young and energetic, we must consume seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Where do we get these antioxidants?

All herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables are actually good sources of antioxidants. The first step that anyone who decides to eat healthy should take is to take care to eat more "good" foods with high antioxidant value, rather than focusing on eliminating "bad" foods from their diet. Thus, we can ensure that unhealthy foods do less harm to our body, both on a cellular level and physically.

The more colors, the better!

The more natural, sun-grown, dark-colored vegetables we eat, level up the antioxidant rate we get. We can think of it this way. UV rays create an oxidative stress in plants, just like in us. Plants produce pigments with high antioxidant power as they stay under the sun to protect themselves. When we eat these ripe and sun-exposed plants, we can benefit from these antioxidant substances. In the light of this information, we can even make a general judgment that the darker the color of a plant, the stronger it is!

The more colors we eat, the stronger the antioxidant effect we will see. For example, the ORAC value used to measure antioxidant power is higher in purple cabbage than white cabbage, and black chia seed is higher than white chia seed. When we look at the foods with the highest antioxidant value, it is not a coincidence that we see very dark-bright plants such as cocoa, sumac, turmeric, clove, blackberry, blueberry and beetroot.

What about an antioxidant supplement?

Studies show that the antioxidants we get from vegetables and fruits are more effective than the pill form. The reason of this; both the presence of more than one type of antioxidant in a vegetable, and the presence of the same antioxidant in different forms. When you take pills, you only take a certain form of an antioxidant, and this means neutralizing free radicals in the body, which are only in one form. The rest continues to freely wear out our cells.

Consuming fruits and vegetables in their freshest form, in season, without cooking or by using low temperature cooking methods in the oven instead of frying/boiling allows us to make the most of the antioxidant content. Speaking of most fruits and vegetables, consuming them unprocessed and raw is the best way to get antioxidants. Except for some vegetables, such as broccoli or tomatoes, whose antioxidant content increases when cooked...

The views expressed in this article are written to shed light on alternative studies and to encourage conversation about these studies. Even if the articles contain the advice of physicians to some extent, they are for informational purposes only. This text; cannot replace professional medical advice, diagnosis and treatment.

About the author:

Eda Çıdam - Dietitian and Functional & Integrative Medicine Health Coach

Having completed her undergraduate education at McGill University Nutrition and Dietetics Department in Montreal, Çıdam did internships in many hospitals in Montreal, such as endocrinology (diabetes), gastroenterology and geriatrics. He completed Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Hormone Health courses from Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York, Plant Based Nutrition course from eCornell and Sports Nutrition certificate programs of AFPA (American Fitness Professionals and Associates). He also completed the two-month Health Instructor program on natural treatments at Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida. Çıdam, who is currently doing her master's degree in Integrative Medicine at George Washington University, shares articles and recipes on healthy living on her website.

Eda Çidam

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