If you research health, diet, food, or supplements, you’ll probably hear the term “antioxidants.”
What are they?
On the one hand, the answer is a complicated lesson in chemistry. On the other hand, antioxidants are a fundamental element of healthy nutrition.
In this discussion, we’ll try to avoid chemistry and focus on the practical role of antioxidants in your health by answering the following questions:
- What are antioxidants
- Antioxidants and Free Radicals: A Balancing Act
- Where do antioxidants come from?
- Should I take antioxidant supplements?
- A Betr Approach to Antioxidants
Keep reading for the Betr basics on antioxidants!
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are the name for a family of molecules that fight cell damage and aging from oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that occurs when oxygen molecules react with the chemical substances in your body.
Rather than get into oxidation chemistry, let’s look at a specific real-world example– rust. When metal rusts, the chemical reaction that occurs is oxidation. Now, ask yourself: is rust usually good for your tools or car?
No, of course not! And it’s not good for your cells either!
The specific oxygen molecules that cause these reactions are known as “free radicals.” Antioxidants protect us from oxidative damage by combining with free radicals and keeping those molecules from reacting with the tissues of our body.
Antioxidants are a family of nutrients that keep free radicals from damaging our body tissue through the chemical reaction oxidation.
Antioxidants and Free Radicals: A Balancing Act
You may ask yourself, “Wait, don’t we need oxygen?”
Absolutely! All organs in our body need oxygen to function, and free radicals come with oxygen.
And that’s ok!
Oxidation is one of many normal, healthy chemical reactions that break down our tissue for growth and healing. The problem occurs when we get too many free radicals and insufficient antioxidants.
When this happens, free radicals cause unhealthy cell damage, premature aging, chronic inflammation, and, eventually, diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
This imbalance is called oxidative stress, and it’s why it’s so important to keep our antioxidants and free radicals in balance.
So how do they get out of balance in the first place?
At Betr, we say, “It’s not your fault.” And this is why: most of the free radicals and oxidative stress come from our toxic culture!
Free radicals assault us from overly processed foods, water and air pollution, and toxic chemicals in everything from lawn care to clothes!
How can we make up for this imbalance? Our diet!
An imbalance of antioxidants and free radicals causes oxidative stress. Ongoing oxidative stress damages our cells and tissues, causing inflammation and chronic disease.
Where do Antioxidants Come From?
As we mentioned in the last section, oxidative stress happens when we’re exposed to too many environmental free radicals and don’t get enough antioxidants to deal with them.
Where are we supposed to get these antioxidants? From a healthy diet, especially from fruits and vegetables.
Here’s where we run into another source of oxidative stress- the so-called “Western Diet.” The “Western Diet” is the default diet for many people in Western countries. It’s low in fresh fruits, vegetables, and fiber and high in fat, sugar, and processed foods.
The Western Diet’s synthetic chemicals, fat, and sugar are significant sources of free radicals. If you combine the high levels of free radicals with low antioxidant levels from a lack of fresh produce, you’ve got a recipe for oxidative stress!
Oxidative stress is just one trickle-down effect of the Western Diet. The solution for fighting “metaflammation” and increasing antioxidant intake is the same: a diet full of fiber from fresh fruits, vegetables, and other anti-inflammatory foods. You can read more in Metaflammation: The Western Diet’s Silent Killer.
Here’s the remarkable thing about dietary fruits and vegetables. Not only do they contain antioxidants in the form of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, flavonoids, and polyphenols, but they contain plenty of healthy fiber. This fiber feeds the beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract (your gut microbiome), producing antioxidant byproducts!
Dietary antioxidants primarily come from fresh fruits and vegetables. Your gut microbiome also produces them by digesting fiber.
Should I Take Antioxidant Supplements?
It’s understandable to ask this question, but here’s the thing: Studies have shown that high-dose antioxidant supplements don’t appear to reduce oxidative stress. In fact, they may cause it to increase!
Why is this? It’s an interesting topic because we don’t know what we don’t know.
The forms of certain antioxidants that are stable in a supplement form may be different than the natural forms contained in fruits and vegetables.
Another possibility is that oxidative stress may be a more complicated process than we realize.
There’s good news, though. While antioxidant supplements may not be helpful, there is evidence that the antioxidants we get from fruits and vegetables have a beneficial effect on our health!
Betr could’ve told you that. There are good supplements and nutritional support out there, but if you have to choose, let food be thy medicine!
Let food be thy medicine!
Scientific evidence indicates that you can get more benefits from a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables than from antioxidant supplements!
A Betr Approach to Antioxidants
Here’s a Betr hot take: antioxidants are an interesting conversation starter. But if you’re eating right, you don’t have to worry about them that much!
Betr is centered around using food as medicine to heal your gut microbiome, reduce inflammation, and restore your health- the natural way!
One of the most critical aspects of our Level 1 protocol is incorporating a variety of gut-healthy, high-fiber fruits and veggies into your diet. Your body knows how to use good fuel, and you can get all the antioxidants you need from good food!
As a bonus, following Betr will help you reduce the free radicals from your diet’s toxic preservatives, fat, and sugar. And, the more you learn about Betr, the more you may change your lifestyle to remove toxins from other parts of your life, too!
Betr’s Level 1 protocol utilizes a gut healing, anti-inflammatory food as medicine protocol that will reduce the amount of toxic free radicals in your diet and provide all the natural antioxidants your body requires.
Betr’s Analysis of Antioxidants
To wrap up this discussion on antioxidants, let’s review what we’ve learned:
- Antioxidants are a family of nutrients that keep free radicals from damaging our body tissue through the chemical reaction oxidation.
- An imbalance of antioxidants and free radicals causes oxidative stress. Ongoing oxidative stress damages our cells and tissues, causing inflammation and chronic disease.
- Dietary antioxidants primarily come from fresh fruits and vegetables. Your gut microbiome also produces them by digesting fiber.
- Scientific evidence indicates that you can get more benefits from a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables than from antioxidant supplements!
- Betr’s Level 1 protocol utilizes a gut healing, anti-inflammatory food as medicine protocol that will reduce the amount of toxic free radicals in your diet and provide all the natural antioxidants your body requires.
There’s no doubt that antioxidants are a vital ingredient to a healthy lifestyle. But focus on eating healthy, whole foods and plenty of fiber-packed fruits and veggies. You’ll get the antioxidants your body needs!
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