Good nutrition plays an important part in protecting us from the free radicals in our environment. The ageing process is associated with cell damage caused by free radical molecules. Free radicals can cause the break of down cells in our body and make us age faster. The effect of this can be skin wrinkling and mottling, hardening of the arteries, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and coronary heart disease. Free radicals are also associated with the development of cancer cells in our bodies.
Antioxidants are natural anti-aging substances which can neutralise the free radicals in our bodies and protect us from cell damage. It is believed that antioxidants help reduce the aging process and protect us from the diseases of old age. Many fruits and vegetables contain high levels of antioxidants which protect us from free radicals.
ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) units are the new way to measure the antioxidant goodness of fruits and vegetables. ORACS were developed by the National Institute on Aging in the US. If food has a high ORAC value, it provides better protection against damaging free radicals. Fruits and vegetables with high ORAC scores include bananas, blueberries, broccoli, raw carrots, cranberries, pecan nuts, red kidney beans, kiwis, oranges, prunes, red cabbage, red peppers, spinach, strawberries and tomatoes. We all know that we should eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day for a healthy diet. Some health advisors now recommend that we eat 8 to 10 portions a day.
You can easily include these healthy fruits and vegetables into your diet. Try adding blueberries, prunes or strawberries to your breakfast cereal, and a banana or orange as a mid morning snack. Add kidney beans and grated raw carrot to salads, chilli con carne and stews. Try baby leaf spinach in place of lettuce on your salad, and add to pizzas. Fruits and vegetables are also a good source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Ideally, 3 out of 5 of your daily portions should be vegetables, as they contain more fibre and less sugar than fruit.
With our hectic lifestyles, we often eat convenience foods to save time on preparation, and many people are deficient in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found naturally in food. If you smoke, drink excess alcohol, live in a built up area with pollution from cars and factories, or suffer from stress, then you are more at risk from the damaging effects of free radicals. If you find it difficult to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, then consider taking a nutritional supplement. Here are some anti-ageing supplements which you can buy from health stores: Lycopene is a powerful natural antioxidant, which helps to neutralise cell damaging free radicals. Pycnogegol is an extract from bark of the French maritime pine tree. It contains a natural blend of bioflavonoids and helps combat the harmful effects of cell damaging free radicals. Selenuim is seen as one of the best natural antioxidant sources. It is often combined with vitamins A,C and E.
The most important change we can make to improve our health and reduce the risk of age related diseases is to improve our nutrition. More and more people are concerned not only with staying healthy, but looking younger as they get older. Someone in their fifties who has a healthy lifestyle and high quality nutrition can look as if they are in their thirties.
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