Antioxidants have become a hot topic in the vast world of health and wellness, but many people are unaware of how they impact their health. Drinks, supplements, and foods all tend to flaunt their antioxidant properties, but do little to actually tell you how all those antioxidants positively impact the body.
To truly understand the health benefits of antioxidant products it is important to have a basic understanding of your health at a cellular level and the struggles your cells encounter on a daily basis.
Below is a detailed look at the interplay of free radicals, antioxidants, and oxidative stress as well as the health benefits of antioxidant products like antioxidant drinks and supplements.
What are free radicals?
A free radical is a molecule within the body that contains an unpaired electron that is chemically unstable. The instability of the molecule drives it to restore its stability by attempting to find an electron to pair with.
Within the body, this poses a problem, as free radicals can look to nearby cellular structures, proteins, or membranes for an electron to steal. If a free radical steals an electron from any of these molecules or structures, it can cause damage and place strain on your cells.
While they can be detrimental, free radicals are actually molecules that are an inherent part of many chemical reactions within the human body. The key to allowing free radicals within the cell is that they are continuously kept in check by the body’s natural antioxidants. When the free radicals outnumber the number of endogenous antioxidants, problems within the cell occur.
What are antioxidants?
For the past few decades, the public has been made to understand that antioxidants are good for them through intense advertising campaigns, but at their core, what makes an antioxidant an antioxidant, and why are they any good for your health?
At its core, an antioxidant is a molecule that neutralizes or inhibits a free radical from causing damage within the cell. Antioxidants act as an electron donor to free radicals which inhibits them from causing damage to nearby structures or molecules.
The body contains dozens of different endogenous antioxidants such as CoQ10, uric acid, and bilirubin. While these antioxidants are produced endogenously, consuming even more antioxidants through your diet can play a huge role in helping to keep free radical damage at bay.
Oxidative stress is a form of cellular stress that occurs when the balance of free radicals and antioxidants tips and free radicals go unchecked. Without the intervention of antioxidants, free radicals run rampant and try to steal electrons from nearby structures and molecules.
While this is only occurring at a microscopic level, the imbalance over time can begin to cause problems within the body like chronic inflammation, reduced energy levels, and mental fog. While oxidative stress is largely viewed as a cellular problem, the reality is that the lifestyle choices people make daily can impact the likelihood of cells encountering oxidative stress. Having a poor diet, smoking, and staying sedentary can increase the likelihood of developing oxidative stress and can place your body at a disadvantage at a cellular level. When your cells are preoccupied with free radical damage, cells tend to have diminished efficiency which can result in lower overall wellbeing.
Antioxidant drinks are a beverage that aims to deliver a high dose of antioxidants into your diet. Many fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, but it can be difficult to consume large amounts of them to see any benefit.
A common example is orange juice, where a single cup is equivalent to more than two oranges. When trying to get your daily dose of fruits, it can be much easier to reach for a glass of OJ than it is to peel and scarf down two oranges every single day.
Below is a look at some of the most antioxidant-rich drinks available and their health benefits. Pairing antioxidant drinks with a healthy diet and lifestyle can help to ensure your body’s free radicals are kept in check, and that your cellular health is supported to do more of the things you enjoy out of life.
Pomegranates are a unique fruit that contains hundreds of seeds inside. Unlike an apple that typically has five to eight seeds, a pomegranate can have as many as 600 seeds, and each seed is surrounded by the fruit you consume.
Pomegranate quickly has risen in popularity because of its immense health benefits and antioxidant abundance. While the fruit can be too tart-tasting for some, its antioxidant capacity is unmatched by many other juices and beverages.
Flavonoids, anthocyanins, punicic acid, and ellagitannins can all be found within pomegranates, and all of them can support free radical balance within the body. Without oxidative damage, the body is able to focus more on doing its job effectively than dealing with oxidative stress and damage.
The blueberry has a profound history as the top dog when it comes to foods containing antioxidants. Since a study conducted in the mid-1990s, blueberries have been of large interest to nutritional scientists for their unique blend of antioxidants and oxygen radical absorbance capacity.
While blueberry juice may not contain as many of the good components as raw fruit, having it in the form of juice allows you to get much more incorporated into your diet. Adding blueberry juice to smoothies or your pre-workout can not only give you a quick serving of antioxidant heavy fruit but also acts as a pleasant natural sweetener.
Coffee is an integral aspect of many people’s morning routine. The morning pick-me-up and the earthy taste make it the perfect morning pairing with breakfast. Coffee is not only incredibly tasty, but it also contains an antioxidant known as chlorogenic acids and melanoidin. Lighter roast coffees tend to have more chlorogenic acids since the roasting process degrades them, but the process of roasting also enables melanoidin to form.
Coffee is thought to have a number of different health benefits, including supporting neurological functioning, supporting blood sugar balance, and helping to enhance cognitive and athletic performance. Pairing these benefits with coffee’s antioxidant capability makes it a great beverage to have in moderation for your wellbeing.
Supplements offer many of the same antioxidant molecules available in healthy foods and beverages but have them in a more convenient and concentrated package. Supplements can also include antioxidants that are harder to obtain through food alone. Supplements are meant to be taken alongside a healthy diet and when taken correctly, can ensure you are getting the most out of your nutrition.
Unlike beverages that utilize the juice from plants, supplements can extract and provide a high level of antioxidants without the added calories.
Below is a closer look at some of the best antioxidant supplements available today.
CoQ10 is an antioxidant that is naturally found within the mitochondria of your cells. The mitochondria are a vital cellular component that is responsible for converting glucose into the usable form of energy within the cell known as ATP.
Without the mitochondria, it would be impossible for your cells to meet the energy requirements they need to survive and function.
During the energy conversion process, the mitochondria create a high concentration of free radicals. To help protect the mitochondrial membrane from oxidative stress, the body utilizes CoQ10. With the antioxidant ready to protect, the mitochondria are able to function at their best.
The main downside however is that CoQ10 levels can naturally diminish over time with age, or due to outside stressors. With lower levels of CoQ10, the opportunity for free radicals to wreak havoc on the mitochondria opens up and reduces ATP production efficiency.
CoQ10 can be supplemented, but many CoQ10 supplements are poorly incorporated into the mitochondria. This is where MitoQ stands out.
MitoQ is a modified form of CoQ10 that allows it to be readily absorbed and implemented within the cell. With MitoQ in the mitochondrial membrane, it helps to reduce oxidative stress and support normal mitochondrial functioning.
Curcumin is considered a super supplement for its immense anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin supplements are a refined form of turmeric that contains only the polyphenol curcumin. The polyphenol is the molecule responsible for curcumin’s antioxidant properties and helps support digestive, neurological, and immune functioning.
MitoQ +Curcumin is a supplement that has the ideal pairing of twin potent antioxidants to give your body the cellular support needed to function at its very best.
In summary, antioxidants are an important class of molecules that help to keep free radicals in check and avoid unnecessary oxidative stress.
Whether you eat, drink, or take supplements with antioxidants your body will appreciate the support against free radicals that constantly threaten your wellbeing.