Antioxidants keep us youthful and so we need a plentiful supply of them to maintain healthy bodies and to keep our brains sharp well into old age. All plants based foods are high in antioxidants, but some more so than others. In fact some of these top 21 anti aging foods truly deserve super food status due to their impressive array of phytochemicals and other nutrients that help keep us in tip-top health.
WHAT ARE ANTIOXIDANTS EXACTLY?
Antioxidants are specific molecules found in certain foods that help inhibit the oxidation of other molecules (ie the molecules inside every cell in our bodies). This is important because oxidative damage is one of the root causes of most diseases, illnesses and AGING in general.
Oxidative damage to our cells is caused by many seemingly benign every day activities and addictions (see list below) that cause our cells to split thus triggering free radicals in our body. These unpaired electrons called free radicals then scavenge our bodies looking to pair themselves up again, causing damage on their way to our DNA, our cells and other proteins.
Therefore it is crucial this free radical damage be negated as much as possible, because this damage when it gets out of control can have a domino effect, eventually triggering diseases such as cancer, alzheimer’s, and most other age related illnesses.
WHAT CAUSES THIS OXIDATIVE DAMAGE?
- Over exercising OR not exercising enough – Both of these can cause oxidative stress so stick to no more than an hour a day, and by the same token make sure your’e doing at least half an hour 5 times per week.
- Over eating, especially sugars and refined carbohydrates – Over eating causes our mitochondria to release more ‘exhaust’ so to speak, and this creates higher free radical levels from the burning of fuel from our food for energy.
- Excessive stress – Something that we’re all guilty of in our busy lives, excessive stress literally is a killer! It causes us to release the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn produces inflammation in the body thus creating free radical damage. It’s also worth mentioning here that chronic inflammation underpins most diseases and illnesses.
- Too much alcohol – Excessive drinking increases cytokine levels which are molecules that cause oxidative stress through inflammation.
- Smoking – an obvious one! – Cigarettes contain over 4,000 chemicals – which sounds absolutely horrendous right? And it’s these chemicals – the worst being formaldehyde, lead, arsenic and ammonia that cause the most destructive kind of oxidative stress which will almost certainly lead to disease and ill health.
- Ionizing radiation – Now this can mean many things, but most commonly is exposure to the sun (as in sun damage), or mobile phones, WIFI, airplanes and X-rays can all cause oxidative stress in our bodies.
- Fungus – Molds and fungus like those found in your bathroom or in damp houses contribute to oxidatve stress in the body, as do candida and other fungal infections in and on the body itself.
- Burnt foods – Especially burnt meat or cheese – the process of burning food oxidises it and when consumed causes oxidation, thus free radical damage in the body.
- Poor sleep and chronic insomnia – Both of these cause stress due to the fact that the body hasn’t been able to rejuvenate and repair itself properly – in the long term this will have a snow ball effect in terms of oxidative damage and the resulting problems.
- Pollution and chemicals – Again this can come in many forms, from household pollutants such as cleaning products, air fresheners, soaps, shampoos and make up etc, to the outdoor pollution of industrial toxins, airplane fuel and car exhaust fumes. Even our food is full of chemicals, preservatives and fertilisers and the water we drink full of yet more chemicals
- Infections – Chronic long term infections such as chlamydia and gum disease all contribute to oxidative stress and damage in the body.
- Bad liver and gut detoxification – When the liver becomes overwhelmed in its pursuit of detoxifying all of these toxins it will produce yet even more free radicals which perpetuates the cycle even further. At this stage a proper detoxification may be necessary to bring the system back into a state of balance.
As you can see there are many ways in which our body comes under free radical attack, and many of them simply cannot be avoided – BUT you can go a long way to giving yourself a helping hand, which is where antioxidant rich foods come in. These alone should not be your only protection, but they will help, especially alongside other lifestyle changes:-
- A healthy diet.
- Adequate exercise
- Not smoking.
- Watching alcohol intake.
- Staying away from as much as possible heavily polluted areas.
- Lots of houseplants to purify air.
- Where possible buying organic food, cosmetics and soaps.
- Staying away from or cutting down drastically on junk foods, fried foods, burnt foods, sugar, and refined carbohydrates.
Remember, your body is designed to detoxify itself, and without this magnificent system beavering away inside of us 24/7 we would not survive even a day. It is important to understand that we were not designed to detoxify from all the harsh pollutants we are exposed to in our modern world. This puts a huge strain on our liver and other detoxification organs, meaning eventually the battle is lost and we succumb to disease and sickness. This is why it’s vital we take precautions to help prevent this.
FOODS HIGH IN ANTIOXIDANTS – TOP 21 ANTI AGING FOODS
This list is of the most commonly found foods that are the highest in antioxidants. You should aim for at least 7+ portions of these per day to keep your body in good health and detoxified adequately. They are also great for anti aging, and should be eaten in their most rawest state possible (or very lightly steamed) which will help to keep those nutrients and fibers intact.
- Berries of all kinds
- Dark Chocolate (at least 70% cacao)
- Pecan Nuts
- Kidney Beans
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Red Wine/ Red Grapes/ Raisins
- Sweet Potatoes
- Brussels Sprouts
- Bell Peppers
- Green Super Food
Side Note: There are many green super food powders available on the market that are all great for detoxification purposes including spirulina, wheatgrass, barleygrass, moringa and blue/green algae’s. They deliver a concentrated hit of nutrients that have been picked and freeze dried at their peak.
I take a shot of a green food supplement every day and I couldn’t live without it as I notice the difference so much in my complexion and energy levels. I can only presume if it’s showing from the outside then it must be doing so much more on the inside that I can’t even see!
The powder I use and can thoroughly recommend as being the best I’ve tried is Dr. Schulze’s Green Super Food Powder. This has a unique blend of all the best green superfoods and grasses and takes your skin to another level – it’s true what they say that beauty really does come from the inside!
For help clearing out your cupboards and getting healthy foods into your diet the easy way please visit my post ‘Easy Steps to Eating Healthily‘.