Antioxidants are compounds found in food that neutralize chemicals called free radicals (unstable molecules), produced by oxidation in the human body. Plant foods such as fruit, the greens, the nut and the whole grains are rich in antioxidants.
The presence of free radicals is linked to health concerns such as heart disease, liver disease and cancer. These unstable molecules react with our human cells and create a chain reaction that transfers from one cell to another. The factors responsible for these free radicals are :
- chemical pollution,
- the ultraviolet of the sun,
- charred (barbecue) or caramelized (caramel flan),
- roasted drinks (coffee and black tea),
- emotional and physical stress (including overtraining),
- cigarette and
- some drugs.
To combat oxidative stress and free radicals, there are several antioxidant molecules that are found in nature :
- curcumin from turmeric,
- the catechins of green tea,
- resveratrol from grapes and red wine,
- tomato lycopene,
- E beta-carotene of orange and red vegetables,
- lutein in egg yolk and
- yellow and green vegetables and vitamin E from nuts and seeds.
Some antioxidant molecules have a localized action and confirmed by clinical research. They all have in common the ability to fight against premature aging of cells :
- Resveratrol would help reduce inflammation, prevent oxidation of LDL or" bad "cholesterol, and make platelet aggregation more difficult (prevents "thickening" of blood and the formation of clots). A recent study reveals that resveratrol, improves the health and life expectancy of obese mice subjected to a diet very high in fat (and therefore in calories).
- Lutein and beta-carotene would protect the retina and lens of the eyes from macular degeneration and cataracts.
"Epidemiologists in Boston studied 356 people aged 55 to 80 years with advanced macular degeneration and compared them with 520 control subjects with other ophthalmic pathologies. They observed a 42% decrease in the rate of macular degeneration in people with the highest consumption of carotenoids (mainly lutein and zeaxanthin) compared to those with the lowest consumption.
Another group of researchers studied the macular pigment of 878 healthy adult subjects. They observed a significant aging-related decline in this essential protective pigment that was worsening in smokers and those with a family history of macular degeneration. »
- Lycopene would protect cells from prostate, lung and stomach cancer.
"Just as lutein is concentrated in the macula, lycopene is concentrated in some organs and, in particular, in the prostate. Studies have shown a lower incidence of prostate cancer in populations consuming large amounts of tomatoes and tomato products. One study evaluated the consumption of different dietary carotenoids in 47,894 health professionals who did not have prostate cancer and compared it with the risk of develop this disease. Lycopene is the only carotenoid that has an impact : the larger the amounts consumed, the lower the risk of cancer.
Researchers at the University of Bern report that, in vitro, lycopene, combined with vitamin E, inhibits the growth of two different types of prostate cancer cells. When it is alone, lycopene does not have this effect. Several studies have linked lycopene to a lower risk of cancer. One of these studies, the Washington County Study, found that men with the highest levels of lycopene in their blood were half as likely to develop prostate cancer as those with the lowest levels. For men under the age of 70, the benefit was even greater. »
- Curcumin can fight various inflammations, against certain cancers (breast, lung, colon) and against diabetes.
"Curcumin, extracted from turmeric, is a powerful antioxidant that provides effective protection against damage caused by free radicals. In 1995, scientific work showed that a diet containing curcumin reduced oxidative stress. Indian researchers have shown that curcumin inhibits lipid peroxide and neutralizes superoxide and hydroxyl radicals. »
- Green tea catechins (especially the type of catechin called EGCG) would protect against breast, bladder, prostate and stomach cancer.
"Several epidemiological studies suggest that people who regularly drink green tea have less frequent and less severe cancers. In another study, green tea EGCG affected the activity and expression of prostate-specific antigen. This is able to affect cell migration - metastases - or other important cancer processes. »
Finally, there are also other antioxidants such as:
- coenzyme Q-10,
- alpha lipoic acid and
- glutathione produced by our cells and activated by cysteine or
- undenatured whey, which is found in the form of supplements.
Short antioxidants therefore generally protect against cancer and premature aging, but some are more specialized to prevent certain cancers depending on its target organ. A good way to prevent these diseases is therefore to prevent
- to consume antioxidants in the form of food or supplements,
- to exercise moderately and
- to modulate his stress,
- avoid smoking and
- Avoid consuming too much alcohol and meat on the barbecue.