• Experts speak

    Antioxidants – The Elixirs of Life

  • -Eefa Shroff

    Anyone looking to escape premature ageing? If that’s you, read further.

    Who needs to use antioxidants? Pollution, sunlight, metabolic 55 functions cause damage to cells we know as premature ageing. These elements cause oxidation in our body, which produce dangerous chemical compounds called oxidants. These highly dangerous and reactive compounds can cause cell mutation and damage our DNA by literally raping our healthy cells. These damages first show up on our immune systems by compromising them and making them susceptible to viruses and bacteria and also cause what we call “signs of ageing”.

    An oxidant or a free radical is a single oxygen atom that becomes unstable and leaches onto other healthy molecules, breaking them down and destroying healthy cells. An oxidative cell viewed under the microscope shows this damage with its tattered walls and the cellular matter roughed up and leaking out of the cell walls. Also when oxidized cells die or breakdown the daughter cells are not as healthy as they should have been and our bodies over time give in to the damage and ravages of the oxidation process.

    We can help our body in its ability to destroy these free radicals before they cause permanent damage by substances that act as natural ‘anti-oxidants’.

    Antioxidants block the chemical reactions that generate free radicals and destroy the one which have already formed. The way antioxidants do this is by lending themselves to the free radical to attach onto and carrying them out of our systems through the detoxification system.

    Here are some sources of oxidation:

    • Normal metabolic functions
    • Radiation
    • Exercise
    • Ozone exposure
    • Carcinogens (cancer causing agents)
    • Environmental toxins

    These factors cause oxygen molecules inside our body to break down. It loses one of its electrons and ‘O2’ become ‘O’, making the life giving molecule now a highly reactive one of pure destruction. In its never ending quest to complete itself, it latches onto other perfectly healthy and necessary molecules in our body. In this violent state it gets to be known as a free radical.

    When the rebel molecule finds an electron mate, it bonds with it, giving it an extra electron, making it highly reactive and a self perpetuating vicious cycle begins. Cell membranes are destroyed, immune system compromised and DNA altered and destroyed.

    They target our tissue proteins, the DNA in our cells and the most important fatty acids in our cellular membrane. Once this destruction is initiated by the free radical, it results in total destruction of the cell.

    Scientists have estimated over 60 age related diseases to be the direct result of long term exposure to free radicals. There are seven different species of free radicals and the following supplements are the counteractive antioxidants.

    Please make sure that if you decide to use these that you consult with a qualified sports nutritionist first!

    • Green tea
    • Vitamin C
    • Glutathione
    • Maria Thistle
    • Gingo Biloba
    • DHEA
    • Beta Carotene
    • Vitamin E
    • Selenium and Bilberry

    Prevention is the best cure against the ravages of free radical damage. And instead of jumping towards supplementation directly, my strong advice would be to get build and develop your weekly menu around antioxidants. The easiest and simplest way is to consume as many colors of fruits and vegetable through the week as possible. The compounds which give fruits and veggies their vibrant colors are usually antioxidants and other precious phytonutrients.

    Other preventive measures include:

    • Abstaining from smoking and stirring clear of second hand smoke
    • Strict adherence to a carefully constructed training regime and a nutrition plan to support it.
    • Avoiding pollutants and other toxic substances that are known to cause free radical damage such as aluminum cook ware, worn out Teflon cookware and DDT or other pesticides.

    Above mentioned antioxidants have over the last decade become scientific dogma and are proved to help the body recover better from unavoidable free radical damage.

    There is no doubt that free radicals decrease our ability to recover from illnesses and injuries. However, if we skillfully learn to include antioxidants into our diets through cooking, we would be sure to not just add years to our life but more importantly add life to our years.

    Eefa Shrof is a high profile Fitness Lifestyle Coach & Consultant in Mumbai owns Supernova Fitness & Nutrition. She is dedicated to fitness, nutrition and sports psychology to her clients. Her highpoint was topping the U.S with a proud 97% in sports nutrition . Her prestigious client list includes Hrithik Roshan, Ami Modi, Anupama & Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Abhay Deol, Anushka Sharma, Vikas Oberoi & many more.

    Twitter: @EefaShrof