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Today’s newsletter is all about an-ti-oxidants, say that three times fast.

Some of you may already be supplementing your diet with antioxidant- rich foods such as berries, green leafy veggies and more. But do you know what an antioxidant is or what they do?

Here’s a little explanation... Why "free radicals" {the bad boys} are highly unstable molecules.

They are produced naturally as a by-product of chemical reactions in our cells. They are also produced when we are exposed to toxins and environmental pollutants. Free radicals are formed when the food we eat is converted into energy when we are exposed to things such as sunlight, radiation and cigarette smoke.

Ok, going to get a little scientific here… electrons typically come in pairs, you know, like Naomlett came together. Free radicals contain unpaired electrons, which is what makes them so unstable. They go a little crazy to steal the electrons they need from other molecules and in doing so they can cause significant damage to cells. This can then set off a chain reaction called “oxidative damage” or “oxidative stress”.

Why is oxidative damage bad? When free radicals form, this is normal. Plants, animals and humans produce free radicals all the time. Our bodies actually have defences against free radicals, it’s when the strength of these defences are outweighed by the amounts of free radicals themselves, is when we have a problem and this can cause lasting harm. Oxidative stress on the body can damage our DNA, compromise cell walls allowing things into the cells that aren’t supposed to be there. This also keeps our bodies in a state of “fight or flight”, which creates more stress and damage on the body.

How can we help prevent free radical damage and oxidative stress? The word of the day… antioxidants.

Antioxidants are able to neutralise free radicals by donating electrons to free radicals, making them more stable. In essence, antioxidants help us to properly detoxify the body of these harmful molecules. Yippee, the ‘Naomletts’ are back together again.

Researchers are continuously learning more about how oxidative stress plays a role in the development of many diseases and age-related conditions, and how antioxidants might help to prevent them. Taking antioxidants may be protective against dangerous diseases such as ­­­cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

So, there you have it, now you know why antioxidants are so important to us. Here is how you can integrate antioxidants into your daily diet.

Oftentimes, the most colourful foods have the most potent antioxidants. So make sure that your plates have a variety of colour on them such as fresh berries, green leafy vegetables like the powerhouse kale, green tea, vitamin C-rich bell peppers, vitamin E rich sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, artichokes, dark chocolate, pomegranates, cinnamon, nuts, seeds and legumes and it’s always good to supplement with an extra antioxidant to bridge the gap, more on that in the next newsletter.

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