Antioxidants & Immunity
During the outbreak of COVID-19, people turn to natural food and remedies with immunity boosting capabilities. It has been well demonstrated that natural antioxidants play an important role in maintaining and strengthening our immune system. If you agree pathogens including viruses are products of nature, then the antioxidants are the antidotes Mother Nature gives us.
Antioxidants are biochemical compounds found in your food (especially plants) that delay damage or injury to the cells in your body. Antioxidants delay cellular damage by removing waste products in cells before they can do further damage. They’re released from the food you eat through digestion, absorbed, and travel via your bloodstream and ultimately into your cells. Some antioxidants are produced naturally in your body and at the same time are also available as dietary supplements.
Potent Antioxidants You Can Easily Find In Natural Food & Drinks
- Flavonoidsare a diverse family of plant compounds composed of six big family members (flavonols, isoflavones, flavones, flavanones, flavanols, flavan-3-ols, and anthocyanidins.) Aside from their antioxidant properties, they also have antidiabetic, anticancer, antithrombogenic (prevent blood clots in your arteries), anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective abilities through various processes. Plenty research studies have validated that they may decrease your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease. Sources of flavonoids include CACAO, green tea, fruits, and vegetables.
- Under the big Flavonoid family member anthocyanidins, are OPCs. OPC stands for oligomeric proanthocyanidins. OPCs are found in high concentrations in pear, apple, dark grapes, CACAO, green tea, and wine. A research study published in the journal Carcinogenesis (May 2019) has demonstrated the ability of OPCs to overcome colorectal cancer cells that are resistant to chemotherapy. The study showed their tremendous potential as an adjunctive (supplementary) treatment in patients with colorectal cancer that don’t respond readily to chemotherapy.
- Resveratrol is a compound abundant in dark grape skin and seeds which has potent antioxidant properties and also acts as a phytoalexin (fights bacteria and fungi). It shows great promise as an antitumor agent, being able to suppress tumor growth in all stages under experimental conditions. Other beneficial properties under its belt include anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective (protects your heart), vasorelaxant (relaxes your blood vessels), and neuroprotective activities.
- Astaxanthin shows great promise in the medical field of dermatology. A comprehensive review of astaxanthin that was published in the journal Nutrients (April 2018) showed its antioxidant and anti-wrinkle effects. It can inhibit enzymes that destroy proteins on the skin and prevents the generation of reactive oxygen species. More studies are needed though, to solidify its benefits. Astaxanthin is a carotenoid produced by several microalgae, yeasts, and bacteria. Food sources include salmons, krill, trout, shrimp, and crayfish.
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a naturally occurring compound present in your body, concentrated mostly in your liver, heart, kidneys, and pancreas. Aside from its role as an antioxidant, it also aids in the production of energy in your cells. If you’re taking anticoagulants, inform your doctor first before supplementing with Coenzyme Q10 as it might make your medicine less effective. A study published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology (February 2018) has reviewed the wonderful benefits of Coenzyme Q10 based on updated scientific evidence. Its list of benefits includes decreased inflammation in cardiovascular diseases, slow down ageing, minimize oxidative stress in patients with kidney and neurodegenerative diseases, alleviate the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, and boost male and female fertility. Food sources of Coenzyme Q10 include organ and muscle meats (from pork, beef, and chicken), fish (salmons, sardines and trout), and nuts and seeds.
- Alpha-lipoic acid shows great therapeutic potential (as a medicine) against diabetes according to an article published in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology (September 2015). Alpha lipoic acid is naturally produced by your body and is also available in a variety of foods like organ meats (liver, kidney, and heart), tomatoes, potatoes, and green peas. Its army of benefits include improvement in blood glucose levels, reduction in insulin resistance, decrease the incidence of diabetic complications, slow down skin ageing, decrease memory loss among patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and optimize nerve functioning.
- Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is a valiant member of the first line of defense (together with catalase and glutathione peroxidase) against the onslaught of radical oxygen species. Dubbed as the most powerful antioxidant inside the cell, SOD has therapeutic effects on inflammatory diseases, ageing, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, and cancer by alleviating the symptoms (not curing the disease itself). SOD food sources include melons (honeydew and cantaloupe) and cruciferous vegetables like Brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage.
- Glutathione is arguably the best-known antioxidant. Aside from its anti-ageing and skin-lightening effects, this naturally produced antioxidant also does many other functions. You can increase your glutathione by increasing your intake of cruciferous vegetables (arugula, cauliflower, and cabbage), milk thistle, and beef liver.
- Curcumin is the main bioactive substance in the spice turmeric. It’s best known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin can increase the levels of natural antioxidants in your body and decrease ongoing inflammation. A study published in the Journal of Life Sciences (March 2016) demonstrated its capability to suppress cancer cells from multiplying. There was a glaring caveat though, its bioavailability. However it can easily be incorporated into your diet, so eat or drink turmeric.
- Lutein-containing foods include egg yolks and green leafy vegetables. An article that appeared in the European Journal of Nutrition (November 2017) clearly stated lutein’s role and importance in improving vision and preventing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. It’s not just an eye vitamin (or antioxidant) though. It has the power to recycle another powerful antioxidant, glutathione, and may even reduce skin inflammation from exposure to the sun’s harmful rays.
Note: Other antioxidants like vitamins A, C, E and the mineral selenium also have wonderful antioxidant properties and at the same time exert other positive and beneficial effects.
Remember, when somebody talks about antioxidants, they may be referring to a compound, food, or a compound in the food. Natural foods and drinks are always the best source for antioxidants. Karuna Whole Plant Wellness Drinks and Karviva Sport Recovery Drinks all contain natural antioxidants which are convenient and safe way to keep up your daily antioxidants intake. If you are taking them as supplement forms, it’s best to consult your primary healthcare provider, especially if you have a medical condition or are taking any medications.