A Layman’s Guide to Understand What are Antioxidants

what are antioxidants

Most of us have read about antioxidants and how they are needed for good health. But not everyone understands what are antioxidants and how do they help. Here is a simple understanding of antioxidants and their role in body functions.

Antioxidants are the compounds that fight against the free radicals inside the human body. Free radicals are another type of compounds which if accumulate in high amounts, start to damage the body. They increase the risk of certain diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

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Typically the human body has a pre-set system that maintains the levels of these free radicals. But if a person doesn’t eat enough of these antioxidants that mainly come from food sources, it is possible that he is more likely to fall for free radical damage.

Free radicals move freely in almost all body parts. If there are no antioxidants available to stop them from causing damage, the chances of progression of disease increased to a significantly high level. Most of the time, they end up taking the life of a person.

But what are these functions for which antioxidants take an action? For a start, it promotes the body’s immune response and makes it capable of killing any substance that is a threat to a person’s health.

But for that, the body has to create a balance between radicals and antioxidants. If the number of free radicals exceeds the antioxidants, it leads to oxidative stress and if ignored, it can cause permanent changes to the DNA, causing cancer. Some researchers believe oxidative stress also promotes premature aging. It may also cause death in extreme cases.

Following a healthy diet, stress-free environment, and paying attention to the environment where a person lives can lower the chances of free radical damage. Poor diet, pollution, stress, toxins, alcohol, and radiation are some of the major risk factors for oxidative stress.

Typically, the human body is capable of generating the antioxidants on its own for example; glutathione. However, antioxidants can be obtained from food sources i.e. animal and plant sources both. Some of them such as vitamin C and vitamin E are essential antioxidants. Some other non-essential antioxidants are also obtained from food sources and they are involved in overall health.

Food sources like berries, dark chocolate, fruits, green tea, and coffee are considered as rich sources of antioxidants. Some of the researches present coffee as the most antioxidant-rich dietary source.  Meat sources i.e. fish are also a source of antioxidants but their amount is lesser than fruits and veggies.

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Intersintigly, the antioxidants also act as additive as they may extend the shelflife of a product. That’s why they are often used as a food preservative. Now, it is clear that what are antioxidants and how do they help in maintaining good health, the next important thing to understand is that taking a sufficient amount of antioxidant-rich food is mandatory for every person.

In case dietary sources are not sufficient, antioxidants supplements can also be used, but obtaining them from natural food sources is better than taking supplements.

Excessive intake of these antioxidants may bring a toxic effect to the body and instead of reducing the oxidative damage, it can actually cause an antioxidant paradox, which damages the body. The best idea is to maintain the daily intake of antioxidants, mainly from fresh food sources, and enjoy good health.



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