Most of us have heard the term antioxidant, whether it comes from the food we eat, or being a part of our beauty products. However, a lot of us may not know what they are or what they do. So in this article I’m going to break it down for you…
What is an antioxidant?
Simply put, an antioxidant prevents oxidation caused by free radicals in the body. Antioxidants can be placed into many different categories and some examples of these are listed in the table below:
Superoxide dismutase (SOD) – requires the help from copper, zinc, manganese and iron
Catalase (CAT) – requires the help from iron and manganese
Glutathione peroxidase (GSHpx)
What is a free radical?
“Free radicals” refers to certain particles found in the body. Particles are made up of protons and neutrons in the nucleus (centre) and electrons orbit the outside. The particle is able to lose and gain electrons, but in order to be considered stable, the particle needs to have an even number of electrons (so that they can be paired). When the particle loses one or more electrons, it becomes unstable. “Oxidation” refers to the loss of electrons1. It goes around, interacting with other particles trying to replace its missing electron, causing them to oxidize, making them unstable as well. This results in a chain reaction with multiple unstable particles1.
Figure 1: Illustration of a stable molecule and a free radical2.
What causes the particles to become free radicals?
A number of factors can cause free radicals1:
- A result of normal metabolism and energy production
- Cigarette smoke
What effect do free radicals have on the body?
- Free radicals can wreak havoc in the body by the “snowballing effect” that they have.
- They collect in the membranes of cells causing these to oxidise. The cell membrane becomes damaged and eventually the cell falls apart and dies1.
- Free radicals can affect your DNA and can also cause mutations1.
- Free radicals have also been proposed to be responsible for ageing in “The Free Radical Theory”3.
- Free radicals have been linked to many different diseases, including1:
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Alzheimer’s Disease
What is the role of antioxidants?
Antioxidants are known as “electron donors”, where they provide electrons to free radicals without becoming free radicals themselves1. This breaks the chain of free radical formation, preventing oxidative stress and the damage this causes.
Other important benefits of antioxidants include1:
- Repairing damaged molecules like DNA.
- Blocking metal radical production preventing them from damaging the body.
- Stimulating gene expression and endogenous antioxidant production.
- Providing a “shield effect” – attaches to DNA, protecting it from free radicals.
- Prevents cancer growth.
- Promotes the self-destruction of cancer cells.
We are exposed to a number of factors that can cause free radicals in our bodies, on a daily basis. Antioxidants help to neutralise these free radicals and prevent any complications that may arise. Make sure that you are getting these antioxidants in through your diet!
WHERE DOES FUTURELIFE® FIT IN?
Although FUTURELIFE® products are not marketed as containing antioxidants, they do however contain a number of antioxidants that will provide health benefits: Vitamin A, C, E, Selenium, copper, zinc, manganese and iron.
You can consume FUTURELIFE® as a meal replacement or a snack, and depending on how much fluid you add (water/milk) you can make a shake, or something more like porridge-consistency. You can also have FUTURELIFE® as part of a smoothie. Why not try the recipe below?
FUTURELIFE® ANTIOXIDANT-RICH BERRY SMOOTHIE
– ⅔ cup frozen mixed berries (blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries)
– 2 – 3 walnuts or pecans
– ½ cup plain yogurt
– ½ cold water
– 3 heaped tablespoons powdered FUTURELIFE® of choice:
- FUTURELIFE® HIGH ENERGY Smart Food™
- FUTURELIFE® HIGH PROTEIN Smart Food™
- FUTURELIFE® ZERO
- FUTURELIFE® ZERO WITH OATS
- FUTURELIFE® Smart Oats
Add all the ingredients to your blender and blend together on full power until smooth. Serve and enjoy.
Serves 1 – meal
Serves 2 – snack