Am I Getting Enough Antioxidants?
What is Oxidative Stress?
To understand how antioxidants serve us, we first need to have an understanding of a process called oxidation. This process is a natural chemical reaction that can produce free radicals - unstable molecules that the body produces as a reaction to environmental and other pressures.
These free radicals damage the cells of humans and other organisms, but the good news is we can slow this process down, by consuming lots of antioxidants.
What are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals. They are sometimes called “free-radical scavengers", because they hunt down free radicals in the body and donate an electron to make the free radical stabilise.
However, not all forms of antioxidants are equal. Some antioxidants, such as vitamin C, also become unstable once they have donated their electron to another atom. This causes a chain reaction to occur, whereby the same process happens over and over, damaging more cells along the way.
This is why it's important to get a variety of antioxidants, as the more types available, the more power there is to offset the damaging effects.
How Many Portions of Fruits and Vegetables Do We Need?
The NHS recommends people consume 5 portions of fruits and vegetables per day, to obtain enough nutrients to sustain our bodies. However, this figure is very different in the naturopathic world. In the field of holistic nutrition, we recommend people aim for between 10 and 12 portions per day, to help prevent disease.
If I am honest, this can be very difficult to achieve, however I can get close to 10 portions just by adding in a freshly made juice every day (recipe here). For my main meals, I make sure to include as many fruits and vegetables as I can, usually in the form of either a large side salad or a bowl of steamed vegetables with melted butter.
For breakfast, I have either a cold option such as Greek yoghurt with berries, or a warm option such as avocado on toast with poached or scrambled eggs. Mid-morning, I usually have an apple, which bags me an extra portion of produce!