We’re taking it back to basics in this blog, looking at what exactly antioxidants are, what they do in the body and why they’re important, including their benefits for reducing inflammation, combating ageing and lowering cancer risk.
What are antioxidants?
To understand antioxidants, you first have to understand free radicals.
Free radicals are molecules which are generated by exposure to radiation, environmental pollutants and the metabolisation of drugs. Free radicals are responsible for a range of health complications in the body, including inflammation, heart disease and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimers.
Antioxidants reduce the effects of free radicals by stabilising the molecules and preventing them from doing damage. They’re called antioxidants because they stop oxidation, which is the reaction that creates free radicals in the body.
Many foods naturally contain antioxidants, including pomegranates and apple cider vinegar. Thanks to their free radical hunting abilities, antioxidants play a crucial role in protecting the body’s cells and restoring systems in the body that have been affected by free radicals.
3 reasons why antioxidants are important
The powerful effects of antioxidants in the body have been linked to a wide range of health benefits. There are tonnes of reasons that antioxidants are important - here are 3 of them
Researchers have done loads of studies into the use of antioxidants to combat the effects of ageing. They have been shown to have a positive impact on skin ageing, helping to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and protect the skin from sun damage. At the same time, antioxidants also prevent ageing in the body’s organs, such as the kidneys and ovaries, which is important for longevity.
Antioxidants also have strong anti-inflammatory effects in the body. They can be used to reduce chronic inflammation and have a positive effect on inflammatory diseases such as asthma, heart disease and hypertension. Increasing your intake of antioxidant vitamins like vitamin E, vitamin C and beta carotene could lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
The anti-inflammatory actions of antioxidants also play a role in their ability to treat patients with neurological diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinson’s disease. While research is still ongoing, there is some evidence that antioxidants could reduce the severity of common neurodegenerative diseases and prevent their onset.
3. Anti-cancer effects
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide but research has shown that antioxidants may have an effect on tumour growth and could stop the evolution of tumours in the body. For instance, curcumin, naturally occurring in turmeric, activates areas of the immune system that help to reduce the chance of cancer developing in the body.
The benefits of an antioxidant-rich diet
The positive effects of antioxidants on the body are diverse. Incorporating more antioxidant-rich food into your diet can have a huge impact on your health, allowing you to take advantage of the anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects while also protecting against diabetes, cardiovascular disease and more.