Do you want to stay young but don’t want to take any anti-aging drugs? Or you just don’t have the budget to do so? Whatever your answer, this article is good for you to read. Written by Florentino G. Solanzo of FNRI.
Antioxidants: Your Modern Day Anti-Aging Nutrient
During the last few years, we have witnessed the explosion of modern-day anti-aging nutrients known as antioxidants.
Antioxidants are compounds present mostly in fruits and vegetables, which neutralize excess free radicals that are generated by the body during normal metabolic metabolism. They belong to a group of substances known as phytochemicals.
Free radicals are the most vicious and the most toxic substances by-product of metabolism. When not neutralized, they can travel through the body cells, disrupting the structures of proteins, lipids and carbohydrates and causing cell damage. Such damage is believed to contribute to aging and degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, strokes, cataracts and the like.
Cellular antioxidant defense mechanisms can be classified into primary and secondary systems. The primary defense system includes familiar nutrients such as vitamins (vitamin E and vitamin C), carotenoids (B-carotene and lycopene), thiols (glutathione, lipoic acid), ubiquinols, flavonoids and polyphenols (from herbs, teas, grape skins) and minerals such as zinc and selenium. A variety of enzyme systems such as the catalase, superoxide dismutase, gluthathione peroxidase are also part of the primary defense system. They are thought to interact directly with harmful free radicals. The secondary defense system includes enzymes that break down protein, lipids, and in DNA repair mechanisms. They are mostly involved in repair of already damaged protein and lipid molecules.
Where can we get enough supply of these antioxidants? Most people only know that the best sources are those that are available in drugstores in the form of vitamins and supplements. But these are very expensive. Toxicity may result from overdose intake of
these substances as they are commonly taken in mega doses or in amounts more that our body needs. Remember that … “more may not always be better.”
Unknown to many, most of these antioxidants are present in foods especially fruits and vegetables. As long as we follow the Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) message # 1. “Eat a variety of foods everyday”, and # 5 Eat more fruits, vegetables and root crops”, we will have no problem meeting our daily requirements for these nutrients.
Food sources rich in vitamin C include bayabas, kamachili, kalamansi, balimbing, kasuy, aratilis, atis, and oranges.
Beta-carotene rich foods as dark green vegetables include malungay, kamote tops, kangkong, pechay, kulitis and the like. Yellow fruits and vegetables like carrots, kalabasa, kamatis mangga, papaya, and tiesa are some of the rich sources.
Vitamin E-rich foods include nuts and legumes, germ oil from wheat, corn, cottonseed and by-products such as mayonnaise, salad dressing and margarine. Animal sources include egg yolk, liver, butter, and milk.
Lycopene is found in processed fruits like tomato catsup and pineapples. Other sources of antioxidants are grapes, apples, soy and soy products. Always remember that the best source of antioxidants is still those from food.
To promote better health … eat the right foods in the right amounts. Always
be guided by the FNRI’s Ten Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos!