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Eating antioxidants through an Antioxidant rich DietAntioxidants are known to reduce or stop oxidation, the process of creating free radicals that can cause damaging and disease forming chain reactions in the body. Yet, scientists are still trying to find out whether taking antioxidant supplements is nearly as beneficial as getting them through natural food sources.
Studies have shown that eating foods high in antioxidants can decrease the chances of heart disease and certain cancers. The complex phytochemicals and vitamins found in these foods, mainly fruits, whole grains and vegetables, create natural forming antioxidants. Each person has different needs for various types of antioxidants, depending upon their lifestyle and environment. Those who smoke and consume high levels of processed foods, alcohol and take in high levels of environmental pollution need higher levels of antioxidants to eradicate free radicals and lessen their chances of disease.
To determine a person’s oxidation damage level, researchers study blood samples. While oxidation damage has been identified in those with heart disease and nerve damage, researchers cannot be sure that oxidation causes this damage, or whether it is a side effect of the damage.
The big question in recent studies is “Can antioxidants supplements herald the same results as consuming antioxidants through food sources?” Many are performing studies to determine whether these supplements can be helpful, or whether they are harmful. Some experts are concluding that supplements are upsetting to the body’s natural level of antioxidants. Others have conducted studies that show that free radicals may be helpful in cancer patients, encouraging cancer cells to die. Because of this, many physicians ask their patients to avoid supplements during chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
While antioxidant research is still ongoing, most experts recommend a plant-based diet that is high in complex vitamins and minerals, to supply the body with a wide variety of naturally occurring antioxidants. Antioxidants can be found in fruits, such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and cranberries. Certain vegetables, such as artichokes, asparagus, broccoli and spinach, can provide the body with much needed nutrients and antioxidants, while nuts and grains add yet another type of antioxidant protection. Studies have even shown that red wine and dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa content, can offer the body much needed antioxidants.
Experts recommend additional precautions to reduce oxidation damage, such as eating lightly to avoid excess calorie intake, staying away from tobacco smoke (first and second hand) and protecting the body from damaging ultraviolet rays when in direct sunlight.
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