Several years we have heard a lot about antioxidants that are so good for health: they are the elixir for long life, they keep us young, serve for the prevention of tumors, we find them in foods, supplements, drinks and even in cosmetics such as anti-ageing creams.
Perhaps not everyone knows what they are, how they work biologically/chemically and the key function they perform in the cell and at the DNA level.
It is scientifically true and proven by the literature that antioxidants are chemicals (molecules, ions, radicals) or physical agents that slow down and prevent the oxidation of other substances. The chemical reaction of oxidation involves the transport of electrons from a substance to an oxidizing agent.
Oxidation in chemistry means producing molecules called free radicals (chemicals) that can damage or even kill cells. Oxidation reactions occur naturally in nature but must be compensated by the action of antioxidants.
What are the main antioxidants?
Vitamin C (fruits and vegetables), vitamin E (vegetable oils), polyphenolic antioxidants (tea, coffee, soy, fruit, olive oil), carotenoids (fruits and vegetables). Prolonged lack of antioxidants can facilitate/cause the development of many diseases such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, central nervous system pathologies, diabetes, joint and skin problem.
Now let’s imagine entering a cell.
Inside the cell there are molecules (substances) that work to block oxidative processes from DNA, proteins and lipids.
Deficiency of antioxidants can also cause serious damage to DNA, such as gene mutations (gene alterations) and consequently tumors. There are DNA repair systems that work to repair DNA errors caused by oxidative processes, but they do not always work well enough if oxidative damage is very important. Oxidation, therefore, damage to cellular proteins, can also destroy parts of the cell and inhibit biological processes fundamental to the life of the cell itself.
Antioxidants can then be defined as protectors present in cells; partly they are synthesized by the body, and in part they are taken with daily nutrition.
What diet and lifestyle allow antioxidants to contribute to our health?
Yes, to fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables but also to whole grains, dried fruits, shellfish and shellfish, legumes, fish (anchovies, tuna, salmon).
Always thinking about normalismo, introduced by Oncology and Kitchen, it is not useful to resort to extremism, looking for antioxidants in particular products, expensive, and difficult to find.
Please note that the Ministry of Health indicates the daily intake of vitamins and minerals, because overdoses are harmful to health. Always pay close attention to eating healthy foods without exaggeration and be wary of products advertised as miraculous.
It is healthy to feed on seasonal fruits and vegetables, limiting the consumption of fats and sugars.
Performing moderate but constant physical activity, avoiding heavy smoking and alcohol, protecting yourself from sunlight, limiting stress as much as possible, reducing the formation of free radicals, ensuring an adequate supply of antioxidants that work for our health.