Christmas time is a lovely time of year however can often be overwhelming and stressful particularly this year with a pandemic on top of it.
Stress can have many effects on the body such as suppressing the immune system and can also be responsible for the generation of free radicals, which can cause damage to DNA and other parts of human cells.
What are Free Radicals and Antioxidants?
Free radicals form in our bodies as a result of daily internal cellular reactions. They also come from outside of our bodies - from environmental pollutants, processed foods, medications, and stress (to name a few).
Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals. The body produces some antioxidants, and many plant-based foods contain antioxidants too.
Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body. When there are more free radicals present than can be kept in balance by antioxidants, the free radicals can start doing damage to fatty tissue, DNA, and proteins in your body.
Mild oxidative stress, such as that caused by exercise, may be good for the body, however long-term oxidative stress can be more harmful. Proteins, lipids, and DNA make up a large part of your body, so this damage can lead to a vast number of diseases over time, for example chronic inflammation or neurodegenerative diseases, and even ageing.
Stress is a huge contributor to oxidative stress. The main thing you can do to minimise oxidative stress is to increase your levels of antioxidants and decrease the formation of free radicals.
Also, the more antioxidants that you consume each day from fruits and vegetables, the better.
How to minimise Oxidative Stress
🍇 Food sources are the ideal way of including more antioxidants in your life. And the brighter and darker the colour of the food (for example blueberries, red capsicums, beetroot…) the more antioxidants they contain. Nuts, cinnamon, turmeric, and fish are also excellent sources of antioxidants.
😞 Reducing stress can really help minimise oxidative stress. Try increasing water intake, exercise, healthy eating, relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga.
🍟 Remove or at least reduce harmful habits such as smoking, over-consumption of alcohol, eating fast food.
🦠 Multiple studies have demonstrated that probiotics, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, possess excellent antioxidant capacity to provide a certain degree of protection against oxidative stress. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7524341/)
How to add more antioxidants to your Christmas Dinner:
- Use nuts such as Brazil nuts instead of chips and crackers for pre-dinner nibbles
- Make an avocado guacamole and serve with kumera crisps 🥑
- Smoked salmon on nut & seeds crackers
- Olives are rich in vitamin E and other antioxidants
- Add a cured, smoked or baked salmon alongside the traditional turkey or other protein
- Use raw vegetables in salads such as raw broccoli salad or a fresh zingy slaw with kale and red cabbage 🥦
- A plate of fresh beans and/ or beets and / or asparagus
- Potatoes are high in antioxidants and new baby potatoes are in season
- Load any deserts up with fresh, in-season berries – raspberries, blue berries, blackberries, cranberries and pomegranate.
- Cherries are in season and are rich in antioxidants 🍒
- Dark chocolate has more minerals and antioxidants than regular chocolate.
- Nuts such as pecans contain healthy fats and are high in antioxidants.
While researching this topic I was pleased to find out that red wine has antioxidant properties. Apparently, the antioxidant Resveratrol is found in the skins of the grapes and as red wine is fermented with the skins for longer than white, it is more antioxidant. 🍇
However, this is to be taken with caution as over-consumption of any alcohol can have negative effects on health. Remember to drink plenty of fresh water, and this can also be loaded with fruits such as strawberries and lemon for added flavour.
Christmas Treat: Antioxidant Smoothie
Try our new smoothie recipe containing plenty of antioxidant-rich whole foods with Immunity Fuel probiotics for immune support.
It is more important than ever to look after yourself and your family this summer, and there’s no time like the present to start!
- 1 cup frozen mixed berries
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 banana
- 1 tsp immunity fuel
Blend all the ingredients together and Enjoy!
Thanks to Nutritionist Nancy Poole for her nutritional input and recipe :)