The Causes of Aging
No matter how careful we are, we eventually start to notice the inevitable signs of aging such as fine lines, thinning hair, aching joints, and fatigue.
That’s because deep down at a molecular level, our bodies are waging a war against oxidative stress. Free-radicals, atoms of a particular element that have an uneven number of electrons, are a by-product of the metabolism of oxygen as food is converted into energy. Free-radicals are formed naturally in our cells and have beneficial effects on the immune system.
The danger occurs when an increased number of these molecules result from environmental factors such as stress, drinking and smoking, or exposure to radiation. Researchers have found that these excess free-radicals strive to “pair up” their electrons, and in the process they cause a domino effect of damage to the structure and functioning of other cells, including damage to the DNA in the cell’s nucleus. This results in disease, certain types of cancer, and the signs of aging.
“Anti”-Oxidants: Diminish the Signs of Aging
Vitamins, minerals, and other chemical compounds found in plants, specifically in brightly colored fruits and vegetables, are “anti”- oxidants with the specialized ability to transfer an electron to a free-radical without themselves becoming destructive or causing damage.
Health experts aren’t sure how many antioxidants a person should consume in a day, and they seem to disagree about whether supplements are as effective as whole foods. Since there are numerous types of natural chemicals in a standard diet that do the work of antioxidants, it might be impossible not to get enough.
The baseline requirement is 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, with a single serving being a ½ cup of juice, a baseball-sized piece of fruit, or 1 cup of fresh vegetables.
Red wine has been singled out for containing high amounts of resveratrol, an antioxidant that could prevent heart disease and slow the aging process. But what about young people or adults who don’t drink alcohol?
Resveratrol is found in an array of other foods such as fresh grapes, blueberries, peanuts, and dark chocolate. And these foods, unlike red wine, also contain healthy doses of vitamins K, C, and B1, as well as potassium, iron, and copper.