I think that we can all agree that Oxygen is pretty important. It's essential to pretty much every process in our bodies but is it also harmful to them? Time for a quick and dirty science lesson. Spoiler alert: I would suggest leaving "not breathing" off your list of ways to combat oxidation.
Oxygen, while very important, can also be produced, in various different forms (free radicals), as a byproduct of many processes in the body.
Atoms have shells that need to be full, in order to be stable. Too few or too many, means the atom is unstable. Atoms will either take electrons from other atoms or give electrons away so that they can become stable. Think of atoms as children playing a game. The children need to pair up. If there aren't the perfect amount, someone is going to be unpaired (he/she is the free radical). That kid doesn't want to be left out so he steals someone else's partner (electron). This causes a different kid to be unpaired (another free radical), so he steals someone else's pair, causing a chain reaction. This chain reaction happens very quickly and can lead to thousands of atoms being damaged in seconds. Over time, this can cause numerous diseases.
I would like to quickly note, not all free radicals are bad. For example, our body intentionally produces free radicals to throw at viruses.
As a solution to our above example, we can simply add someone (an antioxidant) into the room to pair with the remaining kid. At that point, everyone is happy and no one is stealing anyone else's partner. This is why antioxidants are important. As their name implies, they stop the oxidation chain reaction. There are specific antioxidants that neutralize specific free radicals but that's way more detail than I want to tell you about today.
If you watched my "What are Macros Anyway" video, you heard me say, in some regards a Calorie is a Calorie regardless of where it comes from BUT there's more to the story than that. I don't mind if you work out your Macros for the day so that you can include a couple slices of pizza but you have to keep in mind that pizza isn't going to be high in micronutrients, such as antioxidants. You must include enough micronutrient dense foods in your diet before adding "fun food", which we will talk about in an upcoming video. Here are some foods, high in antioxidants, sorted by Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) score. (Basically, their antioxidant concentration)
NOTE: The values below are for 100g of the individual food item. Meaning, while the spices are much more concentrated, you will get more from the fruits, veggies, and nuts because you will consume more of them than spices.
- Cloves 314,446
- Sumac 312,400
- Cinnamon 267,536
- Acai Berry 102,700
- Goji Berry 25,300
- Cranberry 16,062
- Pecans 17,400
- Walnuts 13,541
- Hazelnuts 9,645
- Artichokes 9,416
- Kidney Beans 8,459
- Pink Beans 8,320
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NUT031 1/96 Rev. 10/98, CLINICAL NUTRITION INSIGHTS