Hello there! If you have ever wondered what are antioxidants then you have come to the right place. This article will tell you everything there is to know antioxidants and their functioning in the human body.
Let’s start with the most basic question: What is an antioxidant?
In order to understand antioxidants, it is imperative that we understand what oxidation is. In simple words, oxidation is a chemical reaction that leads to the formation of free radicals which in turn damage the cells of living organisms. Therefore, an antioxidant is a compound that restricts the process of oxidation.
What are the types of antioxidants?
The human body produces some of its own antioxidants. The antioxidants that are produced inside the body are called endogenous antioxidants whereas the antioxidants that come from external sources are known as exogenous antioxidants. Different food items provide specific antioxidants to the body. Some common sources of exogenous antioxidants include fruits and vegetables, seeds, dairy products, whole grains, etc.
Why are antioxidants important?
Considering that most of us live in an environment that is heavily polluted, having a sufficient antioxidant intake is imperative to build immunity and maintain good health. The body usually falls prey to oxidative stress due to bad lifestyle habits, excessive exercise, environmental pollution, tissue inflammation, etc. According to a study titled 'Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health' by V. Lobo, A. Patil, A. Phatak, and N. Chandra, “"Antioxidants act as a radical scavenger, hydrogen donor, electron donor, peroxide decomposer, singlet oxygen quencher, enzyme inhibitor, synergist, and metal-chelating agents." Some studies have also shown that a high antioxidant intake is known to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and other chronic illnesses.
How can one increase their antioxidant intake?
The best way to increase antioxidant intake is by leading a healthy lifestyle and indulging in a well-balanced diet. It is imperative to exercise regularly and include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Bad lifestyle habits like smoking and drinking kill the already existing antioxidants in the body thus making a person more prone to chronic illnesses.
Can antioxidants be harmful to the body?
Anything in excess is harmful to health and the same holds true for antioxidants. According to Dr. Beckett, “at high concentrations, substances that normally behave as antioxidants can have the opposite effect and act as pro-oxidants.” In addition to that, the use of antioxidant supplements can have possible consequences and therefore, should be used with caution.
Note: It is recommended that you consult a dietitian before switching to an antioxidant-rich diet in order to understand the benefits and repercussions in a more detailed manner.
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