Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Antioxidants - Your Best Defense Against Disease and Aging

Studies support the benefits of eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. This is due to their high antioxidant value. Why are antioxidants so important? Because they have a proven track record of fighting free radicals.
Your body is being constantly attacked by very harmful substances known as free radicals or oxygen radicals. Free radicals can destroy your cells, tissues and organs.
Free radicals are highly unstable molecules that are naturally formed inside our bodies by the process of oxidation. They are normal by products of everyday functions like digestion and physical activity. Free radicals also come from outside sources, such as smoking, environmental pollution, and synthetic chemicals that are added to our water and food.
We are also all exposed daily to polluted air, ingest oxidized or partially rancid foods, and oxidizing radiations from the sun and various electrical appliances.
Free radicals lack one electron making them chemically unstable. To stabilize themselves, they attack any other substance within reach and steel an electron from it. This process creates a new free radical, which repeats the process, producing a "domino effect." When this reaction is uncontrolled, it can generate millions of free radicals within seconds.
Fortunately our bodies come equipped with a free radical fighting mechanism. It consists of specialized enzymes that have a "spare" electron that they can give away without turning into free radicals. In order to protect us, the enzymes need help from certain substances known as antioxidants.
The antioxidant value of any food or supplement can be determined by it's ORAC rating. ORAC means Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. According to the University of Michigan, Comprehensive Cancer Center, the measurement of ORAC is a way to measure how many oxygen radicals a specific food can absorb. The more oxygen radicals a food can absorb, the higher its ORAC score. The higher its score... the more that food or supplement will help you fight diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Most experts agree that we should consume 5,000 ORAC units per day to effectively fight free radicals in the body. Sadly, most of us average around 1,200 units per day. Not nearly enough to protect us from the common ciseases of aging.
One of the best sources of antioxidants are berries and fruits. Most of us would have a very hard time eating the large amounts necessary to reach 5,000 ORAC units per day. For this reason, high ORAC supplements have been created. They contain berry and fruit extracts with a known ORAC rating. These supplements are inexpensive and provide many health benefits to your entire body and brain. Many people use these supplements as part of an anti-aging program. Keeping your cells from being destroyed goes a long way to staying healthy and young.