You’ve heard people use the term before – and perhaps you’re familiar with some of the basics of what antioxidants are – but have you ever paused to consider whether or not your body’s antioxidant levels are where they should be? It’s an important issue that can’t be neglected.
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Why Are Antioxidants Important?
Your body faces serious threats all day long. Viruses, bacteria, and infections are constantly attacking your cells. Free radicals have the ability to not only damage your cells but also attack your DNA. Some cells can recover from the damage, while others can’t.
Free radicals can come from chemicals, environmental toxins (like tobacco, alcohol, or pollution), ultraviolet rays from the sun, and substances found in processed foods. And in order to stop or limit the damage caused by free radicals, your body depends on antioxidants.
“Your body uses antioxidants to balance free radicals. This keeps them from causing damage to other cells,” FamilyDoctor.org explains.
“Antioxidants can protect and reverse some of the damage. They also boost your immunity.”
While your body naturally produces some antioxidants, you can also get some from the foods, vitamins, and nutrients you consume on a daily basis. Common antioxidants include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, lycopene, beta-carotene, selenium, and lutein.
3 Ways to Boost Your Antioxidant Levels
If you’ve never measured your antioxidant levels, now’s the time to do so. Thankfully it’s easier than ever with tools like the Pharmanex BioPhotonic Scanner, which provide immediate readings on the carotenoid antioxidant activity in the body – all from a safe, low-energy blue light reading of the skin.
If you find, like most people, that your antioxidant levels are low or hovering around average, you’ll want to be proactive about increasing your levels. Here are some simple suggestions for maximizing your intake:
1. Eat Colorfully
You can read up on all of the different antioxidants found in various foods, but color can be a simple reference when shopping in the supermarket. Antioxidants are often what give color to foods. So if you’re consuming a natural diet with an array of colors, it’s likely that you’re getting lots of antioxidants.
Aim for at least two or three different colors of fruits and veggies per day. This will increase your likelihood of balanced antioxidant intake. If you have trouble doing this, consider juicing your fruits and veggies to make it easier.
2. Be Smart With Food Prep
It’s not just about the foods you eat. If you want to increase your antioxidant levels, be smart about how you’re preparing your food.
With the exception of tomatoes – which actually have higher lycopene content when cooked – the antioxidant level in vegetables is highest when they’re raw. But don’t worry, you don’t have to eat all of your veggies like a wild rabbit. Just be smart with how you prepare them. It’s best not to peel veggies, to minimize chopping, and to avoid soaking in water prior to cooking. It’s also better to cook quickly at high heat, versus slowly on a lower heat. Steaming veggies can help you retain their nutrients.
3. Try a Supplement
Don’t let people tell you that you need a bunch of supplements to get your antioxidant levels where they need to be. In most cases, this is false. However, there are certain supplements that can be integrated into your diet to further boost your levels. CoQ10 is one example. As people age and succumb to increased levels of stress, this vitamin-like molecule becomes more important. Consider taking a daily supplement to help restore your levels.
Adding it All Up
Some doctors and healthcare professionals have gone as far as to say antioxidants are the key to life. When your antioxidant levels dip low enough, your health becomes compromised and it’s all downhill from there. And though there are certainly other factors in play, it’s hard to argue with this assessment.
In a world of overabundant and omnipresent free radicals, antioxidants act as shields. In order to increase your chances of living a long and comfortable life, you need to do what you can to increase your intake and make smart choices about your health.
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