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The power of antioxidants

The power of antioxidants

Did you know that one theory about ageing is that it is due to the damage produced in the body by free radicals? Now, what are free radicals? They are molecules resulting from biological reactions in our body. Put more simply, when cells breathe, the energy molecule is formed and glucose is degraded, this degradation gives rise to free radicals.

These reactions are essential for life, but in the long term the formation of free radicals can damage cell membranes and genetic material (or DNA). They have great oxidative power and when formed inside cells can oxidise biomolecules and lead to cell death and damage in the body.

We need to know that they are essential in the organism, and that after they are produced they are eliminated thanks to antioxidant substances, but in situations of stress or in high physical and mental performance, they are produced in excess, they cannot be counteracted with antioxidants and, therefore, the damage in the organism is increased. This is called oxidative stress.

So how can we avoid this damage? Well, in a very simple way: WITH ANTIOXIDANTS, which, as we have said, are capable of neutralizing free radicals, and thus avoid the damage they produce in the organism. We can find them divided into four large groups:

POLYPHENOLS

They are responsible for the maximum antioxidant activity of fruits, vegetables, certain infusions and natural drinks. Some of them adhere to toxic substances, such as lead, copper, iron and other heavy metals; eliminating them from the body. They are further subdivided into different groups, but all of them have similarly powerful antioxidant properties. An example would be resveratrol, one of the most powerful natural antioxidants.

They are abundant in fruits, vegetables, cereals and legumes, as well as in some drinks and infusions such as green tea, coffee, red wine and other products such as chocolate with high concentrations of cocoa.

CAROTENOIDS

They are found in leafy green vegetables such as spinach and chard, and in orange-coloured (therefore easily recognisable) fruits and vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, mango or medlars. Lycopene is considered efficient against free radicals that cause damage especially to eyes and skin. Carotenes are precursors of vitamin A (retinol), which plays a key role in preserving the integrity of the retina and thus correct vision, and in keeping the immune system fully active.

TOCOPHEROL or VITAMIN E

It acts as an antioxidant by slowing down the proliferation of free radicals, protects fatty acids from oxidation and maintains the permeability of cell membranes. It acts at the level of the skin and is therefore attributed an anti-ageing effect. It also prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), thus preventing the formation of occlusive atheroma plaques, thus avoiding myocardial infarction, stroke or other cardiovascular accidents. They are found in foods rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids such as olive and sunflower oil, nuts, wheat germ, avocado or egg yolk.

ASCORBIC ACID or VITAMIN C

It plays a role in cell metabolism and is also believed to play a role in protecting the mucous membranes and in the formation of collagen (providing elasticity to the skin) and elastin, which is very important in the structure of blood vessels, tendons, bones and ligaments. It acts together with vitamin E by enhancing its antioxidant activity. They are generally found in fruits and vegetables, but are easily oxidized, so to obtain the benefits of vitamin C we must take these foods raw, and keep them in a fresh place and protected from light.

At Farmacia Progrés, we urge you to follow a balanced diet, in order to achieve a good state of health and also to help prevent accelerated ageing. If you have any doubts, or want to know more about antioxidants, visit us at the pharmacy.

Adrian Domingo.