New Castle News

April 5, 2012

Lori Brothers: Getting old? Send in the antioxidants!

Lori Brothers
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Are you making choices that add life to your years?

Have you maintained the spring in your step? Are you pain-free? Are you at your target weight?

World Health Day, which is Saturday, is focusing on aging and health this year. The slogan is, “Good health adds life to years.”

How much life force you have available to your cells is a very important concept. The same force that moves sap up a maple tree, or causes a seed to sprout and bloom, is also in the human body. If you are aging without maintaining a supply of vim and vigor, things can get pretty grim. You have the power to supercharge your cells.

It is possible to age well and realize that, even if we can’t stay young forever, we can make a significant impact on how well we age. Low energy, loss of muscle tone, wrinkles, bone loss are all part of the process of oxidation on the body.

Another sign of oxidation is inflammation. Research shows that inflammation is the underlying cause of most diseases. Some of the diseases linked to excessive oxidation in the body are aging, cataracts, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, autoimmune diseases, coronary heart disease, arthritis and various cancers.

So, let’s talk about oxidation; the brown discoloration of cut apples when left out and rust on a car are two examples. This same process happens to the human body.

Oxidative stress goes against how electrons pair up in the body. Instead of having a “partner electron,” single electrons called “free radicals” float around in your body looking for a partner. This is an unstable oxygen molecule that doesn’t have a partner, and it may be at the root of what is ailing you, if it is successful at working its way into a healthy cell. Send in the super partners — antioxidants.

Over and over again, the “movie stars” of food are the antioxidants. They always get the spotlight. They are the ones that get all of the glowing reviews.  Why? Because they are the super-agents that deliver phytonutrients that combat the aging process. They connect with the free radicals so they don’t connect with, and kill off, your healthy cells.

In terms of “total antioxidant capacity” red beans, pinto beans, blueberries, cranberries, artichoke hearts, prunes are at the top of the list.

Also, foods high in Vitamin A are carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, mangoes oranges, goji berries, collards, cantaloupe, peaches and apricots.

Foods high in Vitamin C are green leafy vegetables, black currants, strawberries, blueberries, raw cabbage and tomatoes.

Foods high in Vitamin E include wheat germ, nuts, seeds, whole grains, kiwifruit, vegetable oil and fish oil.

These all will be your allies.

The good news is that the body needs some of these free radicals. Even though they can attach to a healthy cell causing oxidation, similar to rusting the body, free radicals also attach themselves to germs and viruses and kill them, too.

Free radicals are produced by the body’s natural processes. This process speeds up if your habits include too much stress, eating too many refined foods, smoking, or excessive alcohol consumption.

The idea is to create balance that uses the free radicals to your benefit with exercise, stress management and a “team” of antioxidants working together to add life to your years.