The main culprits responsible for aging of the body are cells called free radicals. The more you have , the faster you degenerate. When oxygen molecules in the body are under stress they lose one electron creating “free radicals”. These free radicals then attack healthy cells in an attempt to steal electrons from them. Free radicals often injure the cell, damaging DNA, which creates the seed for disease. Free radicals trigger a damaging chain reaction. When a free radical oxidizes a fatty acid, it changes that fatty acid into a free radical, which then damages another fatty acid. Free radicals released in our bodies during every 24-hour period subject each one of our cells to a thousand hits .
Free radical production is a normal part of life, part of breathing in oxygen. Oxygen causes oxidation ( If you leave an iron nail outside, it will rust. Slice an apple in half, and it turns brown. Both are examples of oxidation ), a chemical reaction that involves the loss of an electron from an atom .Usually, the body's natural defense systems neutralize free radicals that develop, rendering them harmless. However, assaults on the body like radiation, bad eating, pollutants and alcohol, can overpower the body's ability to neutralize free radicals, letting them cause damage to the structure and function of the body's cells. This damage contributes to aging and leads to a host of illnesses, including cancer and heart disease. Some of the degenerative conditions caused by free radicals include: Deterioration of the eye lens, inflammation of the joints (arthritis), damage to nerve cells in the brain, which contributes to conditions such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, acceleration of the ageing process, increased risk of coronary heart disease, since free radicals encourage cholesterol to stick to artery walls, and cancers triggered by damaged cell DNA Diabetes, kidney problems, liver problems, almost every disease is related to the damage caused by these free radicals.
The body keeps these free radicals in check by producing antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize free radicals by soaking them up. For instance, dip a sliced apple in lemon juice and the rate at which the apple turns brown is slowed. That's because the vitamin C in the lemon juice slows the rate of oxidative damage. Although the human body produces it's own antioxidants, the amount is insufficient and, as one grows older , these become even less. However, antioxidants are abundantly available in food.
Fruit, vegetables whole grains, nuts, and legumes are key sources of antioxidants, According to the Journal of Neuroscience, these may help prevent or even reverse age-related mental and physical decline. Antioxidants - certain vitamins,minerals and enzymes - are Vitamin A, B-6, B-12 , C, E ,Beta carotene ,Folic acid and Selenium . Vitamin C antioxidant foods include citrus fruits, strawberries, green peppers, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, raw cabbage and potatoes. Vitamin E antioxidant foods include wheat germ, nuts, seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oil.
Vitamin A is found in the most deep/bright colored fruits and vegetables, including carrots, squash, apricots, spinach, bell peppers, tomatoes. Selenium foods include garlic and onions. Foods that contain multiple sources cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower,beans. corn, green tea, eggplant, grapes . pumpkin, mangoes, red capsicum, apples. soybeans, tofu, lentils, peas sesame seeds, bran, whole grains pink grapefruit and watermelon. oranges, blackcurrants, kiwi, turmeric, nutmeg and cloves.
Here are the biggest producers of free radicals :
FAT: Polyunsaturated fat ( most vegetable oils) becomes oxidized and causes an increased production of free radicals . Monounsaturated fat-olive and mustard oils- does not get oxidized. When an oil is heated, the rate of oxidation increases rapidly, doubling with every ten degrees centigrade rise in temperature. Eliminate fried foods from your diet.
MEAT. Oxidation occurs in all meats, chicken and fish. Animal flesh has iron, which reacts with oxygen and causes free radicals in the colon. Iron and copper are crushed out of the meat's cells and into the fat and juices, accelerating oxidation. Meat eating animals have a short intestinal so that the food does not stay in the body for a long time The human intestinal tract is twelve times the body length so there is more time to produce more free radicals.
FOOD PRESERVATIVES AND PESTICIDES Pesticides kill the pest by creating free radicals, and if you consume them you will be damaged by those free radicals also.
Avoid processed foods in which all the vitamins , enzymes and minerals have been zapped out . Natural, unrefined foods, particularly whole grain cereals and green and yellow vegetables, should make up 50 percent or more of your daily calories. Eat the food whole (the fruit instead of the juice) and the entire vegetable (potatoes with skins). This will also give you fibre ( meat has none) which promotes speedier movement through the digestive tract. This reduces the time they're subjected to oxidation, Reduce salt consumption. Cell walls damaged by free radicals lose some of their ability to maintain a proper sodium balance. Excessive sodium leaks into these cells and cause the body to swell.
A large study reported at the World Alzheimer’s Congress found that “on average, people who remained free from any form of dementia had consumed higher amounts of beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and vegetables than the people who developed Alzheimer’s disease.”
Instead of eating foods that metabolize readily into excess free radicals, eat free radical destroyers. The right foods strengthen and protect you from glitches in your machinery, while providing the fuel to function. A low-fat, vegetarian diet would cause the least amount of free radical damage.