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Hey! Antioxidants - Ya gotta have them.
Don't give them free radicals a chance.
Gramma and Grandpa can help you.
TOLL FREE 1-888-634-8165
Hold one of your hands out in front of you, palm down. Next, using your other hand, pinch and lift the skin on the back of your outstretched hand. When you let go, does your skin quickly snap back into place, flat or smooth? Or, does it just sort of slump back into place?
When we are young, our skin snaps briskly back, but as we age, our skin loses its elasticity. It begins to wrinkle. Age spots appear. Why? Because the oxygen in the air around us (the air that we breathe) damages our skin. You can see evidence of similar damage everywhere -- from the rust that forms on an old car or a piece of scrap metal to the windshield wiper blades that you need to replace because they have become dry, brittle, and hard.
We call this process oxidation. Oxygen reacts with the molecules in these materials -- the iron in the car, the rubber in the wiper, the skin on your hand. The oxygen molecule loses an electron to become a free radical that produces the damaging effects of rust or aging skin. So powerful is this process that, over time, free radicals even will break down concrete.
Because they are so reactive, free radicals will attack almost any material including the more than 75 trillion cells in the human body. In the process, they will damage the outer cell membrane, opening the door for a variety of ailments.
Free radicals are suspects in more than 60 human diseases, ranging from cancer of the lungs, mouth, throat, stomach, bladder, and rectum, to heart disease. Free radicals cause veins and capillaries to become brittle with age. A decade-long study found that they are what makes cholesterol cling to the sides of arteries.
Cut an apple in half. Dip half the apple in orange juice. Leave the other half the way it is. Wait for a half hour. You'll notice that half of the apple has turned brown -- the result of free radical damage caused by contact with oxygen in the air. The other half of the apple -- the part dipped in orange juice -- still will be crisp and white.
Why the difference? An antioxidant has saved the half of the apple dipped in orange juice. Antioxidants are unique substances that counteract the damaging effects offree radical oxygen molecules. They do this by giving up an electron so that the oxygen returns to its less reactive and more stable formation. One such antioxidant is vitamin C, found in orange juice. By coating the apple with vitamin C, you created a shield against free radical damage.
This process has important consequences for human health. It is the reason the main antioxidants in the human diet -- vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and selenium -- are some of the brightest stars of the health food movement. Since 1988, beta carotene sales have grown from $7 million to more than $85 million a year. During the same period, vitamin E sales grew from $260 million to more than $340 million.
Now, health professionals, who denied the value of such food components a few years ago, have jumped on the antioxidant bandwagon. Newsweek quoted a Harvard physician as saying, "Until very recently, it was taught that everyone in this country gets enough vitamins_I think we have proof that this isn't true. I think the scientific community has realized this is a very important area of research."
The research, in turn, is bearing out what many biochemists have suspected for some time: That there are many benefits derived from a diet high in these particular nutrients. Harvard University, the University of California-San Diego, the University of California-
Berkeley, the University of Alabama, and the National Cancer Institute, among others, have conducted studies confirming the powerful role antioxidants play in human health.
One study -- involving 120,000 men and women during an 8-year period -- showed that an increased intake of vitamin E reduced the risk of heart disease by about 40%. Another study showed that vitamin D could retard the growth of cancer cells. A Harvard University study found beta carotene supplements reduced the risk of heart attack among men with a history of heart disease.
To reap these benefits, seven out of 10 Americans now take vitamin supplements occasionally and 15% of the frequent users just began taking supplements this past year. Many others are turning to more natural ways -- changing their lifestyles and eating patterns -- to benefit from an antioxidant-rich diet.
The best way to improve your chances of avoiding the ravages of free radicals and remaining healthy is through changes that any healthy practitioner would recommend: exercise more, stop smoking, cut out alcohol, increase your fiber intake, reduce fat in your diet, and eat more fresh foods.
The National Cancer Institute is now recommending that we eat five servings of green and yellow vegetables each day along with three servings of fruit. These foods are naturally high in antioxidant nutrients. Spinach, brussels sprouts, collard greens, kale, and many other green leafy vegetables also have significant amounts of the antioxidant nutrients on which researchers are focusing.
Many people are listening to this advice -- changing their diets, and at the same time, the quality of their lives. Finally, the modern diet, forced by rising rates of cancer and heart disease, pushed by spiraling health care costs, is taking a turn for the better.
If you're wondering if the benefits of making the change are worth it, try this: Hold one of your hands in front of you, palm down --
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