In a world where everyone is keen to live longer and healthier taking vitamins, minerals and other supplements is an accepted practice for many of us. Many of these substances are found in food, but few of us can “recite” how much vitamin C and zinc they have taken by the end of the day. Maybe due to the difficulty in tracking the amount we intake and because a continuous deficiency of these substances is dangerous while overdosage is rare, all of us end up in the pharmacy wondering which supplement to pick.
Among the many vitamins and minerals are the antioxidants. They are a small group of biochemical “heroes” that help fight free radicals in the body. Even though they are part of natural metabolic processes, the release of free radicals increases as we try to fight toxins like alcohol, tobacco and polluted air. This can cause cellular damage and mutations leading to a number of diseases, including cancer. With that in mind, we asked Vitu doctors to tell us more about the lesser known antioxidants so we can be healthier and more vibrant throughout the year.
Turmeric, which gives yellow colour to Indian curries, is not only a tasty spice, but also a great way to increase your resistance to infections. The plant is especially beneficial for influenza, colds and even chemotherapy. If you have ulcerative issues, taking turmeric may be appropriate because it improves the intestinal fauna, reduces cholesterol and cravings for sweets. Also recommended as a supplement for patients with oral problems, gynaecological inflammation and arthritic pain, the healing properties of turmeric have been the subject of numerous scientific publications. Due to its strong anti-inflammatory effect, some dermatologists recommend it for skin rashes.
Care should be taken with taking turmeric if you have varicose veins, a heart attack, or taking diabetes medications because it acts as a blood thinner.
To the “green antioxidants”, such as broccoli and spinach, we can also add spirulina, which is an algae extracted in Latin America, Africa, Asia, but also in places like Greece. Spirulina is unique because of its high concentration of proteins and vitamins (B1, B2, B3, calcium and iron), making it an ideal food for NASA astronauts. Favoured by the Aztecs, this “super food” is also appropriate if we spend a lot of time in the gym and/or feel tired. Spirulina is recommended for people with anaemia and/or vegetarians who are unable to get the iron they need. For diabetes, spirulina balances sugar levels, and for those with high bad cholesterol, it lowers it. It is most popular because of the presence of Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) and Omega-3, which are elements commonly made in the body, not just procured from the outside and which have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Taken mostly as powder or pills, this algae has a proven effect on preventing mouth cancer.
Interesting: Spirulina is great sprinkled on orange juice in the morning.
Those of us who believe that wine is good for you will be happy to learn about resveratrol, an antioxidant that boosts the cardiovascular system. It is found in red grape flakes, young red wines, peanuts, blueberries and more. Resveratrol supplements are thought to reduce blood pressure and bad cholesterol and help protect your memory.
Resveratrol is beneficial for reducing insulin resistance. Many of the valuable properties of resveratrol have not yet been scientifically proven in humans, but early clinical trials are very promising.
The benefit of antioxidants for our body can be great. However, before making dramatic changes to our diet or starting to take supplements, it is important to consult a doctor, as some may interact with your medications or be inappropriate in certain situations. This is where Vitu doctors can certainly help!