Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food. ...Hippocrates
Aging is an irreversible phenomenon for all living organisms. With aging, cell division and replacement of dead or damaged cells slows down. Cell death, mutation or damage is partly caused by the free radicals that our body constantly produces, hence the conception of the free radical theory of aging. Increased cellular and DNA damage or mutation, as we age, eventually results in various age-related diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular heart disease, brain damage and Alzheimer’s disease. Most of the diseases—as result of cell and molecular damage—manifested with aging are caused by free radicals and nutrient deficiency.
Genetics is one factor that determines aging process and our health condition. Nevertheless, nutrition, lifestyle, and other factors also determine how healthy the aging process can be. Making our diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grain foods and daily adequate physical exercise are natural and potent anti-aging therapy.
Antioxidants are natural scavengers of free radicals, known to cause cellular damage and consequent age-related medical disorders (including wrinkling of skin). Antioxidants' anti-aging benefit is due to their anti-inflammatory effect, delay or prevention of cancer, diabetes, and brain disorders. Antioxidants also have the potential to lower blood pressure and reduce development of atherosclerosis. Antioxidant rich foods are also suggested for diabetic patients to help relieve the oxidative stress caused by increased free-radicals synthesis.
Antioxidants have greater anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic effect and the resultant anti-aging effect, when they are consumed in their natural food source than individual antioxidant elements. Foodstuffs contain a plethora of antioxidant and other phytochemicals that are not present in a single supplement pill. Besides, a combination of variety of antioxidants has a synergetic effect. A variety of antioxidants can be obtained naturally from fruits, vegetables, herbs, teas, legumes and whole grain cereals.
Below is a short list of natural antioxidant food sources and the potent antioxidant nutrients they contain.
Garlic: is rich in antioxidant vitamin A and C, selenium and sulfhydryl compounds.
Tomato: is rich in antioxidants such as lycopene, vitamin E and C, beta-carotene (vitamin A precursor).
Ginkgo Biloba: rich in flavonoids, and terpenoids (gincolides A, B, and C).
Ginger: good source of phenolic compounds (6-gingerol, zingerone). Ginger root containds about 50 types of antioxidants.
Green tea: rich in catechins, vitamin E (tocopherols), gallic acid, carotenoids, and vitamin C. Some studies suggest that green tea has higher antioxidant activity against certain free radicals (peroxyl radicals)than vegetables suchs garlic and spinach. Animal and cell culture studies indicate that green tea, partly by its antioxidant activity, reduces the risk of skin, lung, stomach, liver, kidney, prostate, ovarian and breast cancers. The National Cancer Institute is reportedly evaluating grean tea for its potential cancer-chemopreventive use.
Our body can also synthesize antioxidant enzymes, namely, superoxide dismutase and methionine reductase.