This is a guest blog post from our amazing Red Deer Personal Trainer, Brianna Lawry, CPT. This is a game changer, so make sure you take your time and absorb this info.
Nutritional Therapy and the Role of Antioxidants
Hippocrates: “Let food be your medicine”
We have all heard of antioxidants and know they are good for us, but what about them is good, and why? In this article by a Red Deer personal trainer, I will explain the ins and outs of antioxidants and hopefully better explain their purpose. I recently completed a course on Nutritional Therapy and learned a ton of interesting information from all aspects of life. I would like to share some of what I learned, but since there is so much, I picked strictly antioxidants as the focus of this article.
First of all, let me explain nutritional therapy. Is it the improvement of your cellular activity through proper nutrition. Nutritional therapy can help healthy individuals prevent disease and optimize good health, and also help sick individuals minimize the effects of a developed disease.
Free radicals or oxidants are generated in the environment through sunlight, toxins, pollution, radiation, processed food, poor diet in general and smoking. Free radicals affect our cells by causing damage and disease. This is why we always hear about introducing antioxidants in your diet which come from foods with vitamins A, C and E. These antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which optimizes your health. Research shows that nutrition, good or bad can switch genes on and off.
Research has been done on twins, determining that the main contributing factors to degenerative disease and ageing is environment. Your environment consists of how you live and what you eat, not inherited genes. Less than 10% of human disease is a result of genetic destiny (so that excuse of “It’s in my family” is usually bogus).
Even if you have genes that predispose you to certain health problems like cancer or obesity, by improving nutrition, habits and how you live which are factors that change your cell behaviour, you can keep these genes dormant or counteract their negative activity. Also as part of this idea, your DNA, which is the blueprint of your genetic makeup, will stay the same, but the way certain parts are read and implemented can be altered by changing factors such as nutrition- what, when and how we eat and live.
Your gene expression, which is what determines health or disease can be altered by changing the environment from which your genes live off.
This environment, if problematic (poor nutrition, minimal to no exercise and stress) will exceed your bodies ability to adapt and this leads to development of health issues.
Now onto specifics. Antioxidant deficiency is related to diseases such as: Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease, cataracts, diabetes, hypertension, infertility, AMD or less degeneration, measles, mental illness, gingivitis, respiratory tract infections and rheumatoid arthritis. The basic benefits of antioxidants are: help boost immune system, increased fertility, reduced inflammation in arthritis, lessen cold symptoms and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Phytonutrients which are found in vegetables, legumes, herbs, spices and fruit, are extremely helpful for cancer and age fighting. They also silence oncogens which are cancer-causing genes, and increase cancer suppressor genes. We have all heard “eat your 5 a day” referring to fruits and vegetables.
This suggestion helps lower heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity. To get the full spectrum of phyto- and antioxidants, you really do need to eat a variety of natural foods from every colour of the rainbow. The 4 main antioxidants are vitamin E, C, Beta-carotene and Selenium.
Many people will find an antioxidant for their needs and take just that one, but that can be unwise and in some cases and can often be dangerous. An example of this is supplementing beta-carotene alone while smoking. This can actually increase the risk of cancer, which was tested in three separate studies. However, when taken in combination with a full spectrum of antioxidants, beta-carotene was found to help with a 22% decrease in risk of heart disease. The best combination of antioxidants is vit. E, C, beta-carotene, glutathione, anthrocyanidins, lipoic acid and coenzyme Q10 to disarm free radicals or oxidants.
Some of the best antioxidant foods are berries, grapes, tomatoes, mustard, broccoli, turmeric, sweet potatoe, carrots, watercress, peas, beans, nuts, seeds, kale, spinach, plums, and alfalfa sprouts. An important side note to this list is to remember, when boiling veggies, you reduce the ORAC or oxygen radical absorbance capacity which greatly lowers their healthy affects, whereas steaming retains 90% more antioxidants.
I hope this information can be useful to you or someone you know. As always, it is important to practice everything in moderation, so if you plan on incorporating some of this knowledge into your daily life, be sure to do some research or talk to a doctor, certified nutritionist, or your favorite Red Deer personal trainer before drastically changing your eating habits. It is also important to stay active and keep hydrated!
Read more about Nutritional Therapy Here: http://thehealthsciencesacademy.org