We talked about antioxidants last week, we will continue today.
The balance between our intake of antioxidants and our exposure to free radicals may literally be the balance between life and death. You can tip the scales in your favour by making simple changes to your diet and also through supplementation. Some antioxidants are known as essential nutrients which are needed for survival, such as Vitamin A, beta-carotene and Vitamins C and E. Many others such as phytonutrients are not essential for survival but still considered optimal for our health.
Levels of Vitamin A are consistently found to be low in people with lung cancer. In fact, having a low Vitamin A level doubles the risk of lung cancer. Similarly, a high intake of beta-carotene from raw fruit and vegetables reduces the risk of lung cancer in non-smokers. In one study, giving a 30mg per day supplement of beta-carotene resulted in 71% of patients with oral pre-cancer (lukoplakia) improving, while 57% of patients given 200,000iu of Vitamin A per day had complete remission.
Supplementing Vitamins E and C effectively halves the risk of ever having a heart attack, while in a large study of nurses, those who consumed 15-20mg of beta-carotene per day had a 40% lower risk of a stroke and a 22% lower risk of a heart attack compared with those consuming only 6mg per day. And those with high dietary intakes of beta-carotene had half the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. It's also known that supplementing 1,000mg of Vitamin C daily reduces blood pressure.
Ideally, we require a combination of Vitamins, E, C and beta-carotene, as well as glutathione (subject of a future post), lipoic acid and Co-enzyme Q10 to disarm antioxidants properly.
So, what should we be eating in orderto maximise our intake of these anti-oxidants? Beta-carotene is found in red/orange and yellow fruit and vegetables.
Vitamin C is also abundant in vegetables and fruit eaten raw - but heat rapidly destroys it, Vitamin E is found in seed foods, including nuts, seeds and their oils, as well as vegetables such as peas, broad beans, corn, and whole grains.
Eating sweet potatoes, carrots, watercress, peas and broccoli daily is a great way to increase your antioxidant levels - assuming they are not fried!
so, as noted previously and as we always prescribe within the clinic - eat a variety of colourful fruit and vegetables from across the rainbow every day.
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