What the Hell is an Antioxidant Anyhow?

Delicious. Good looking. In season now.

You can’t spit in a health food store without hitting a lesbian therapist or a package screaming about the health benefits of antioxidants. At least here in the Bay Area anyhow. And really, thank the Goddess for both of these things. I am going to leave it to you to explore the benefits and true joys of working with a fantastic lesbian therapist, but antioxidants? Those, I can speak to in this forum. I suppose I could also speak to the LT benefits, but I’ll just keep it cute. I mean, it’s friggin’ Monday after all.

This is metabolite glutathione. The pudgy yellow part is the redox-active sulfur atom that rocks out with antioxidant activity.

You may have heard that antioxidants have something to do with free radicals. And so in addition to What The Hell is an Antioxidant, you may also be asking What The Hell is a Free Radical? When we metabolize food in our systems, sometimes a molecule will get broken down in such a way that it leaves this little structure that is lacking an electron. It’s like picking teams and there’s a kid left out. After a good amount of time being left out, this child is impacted by the experience in ways that are damaging which can result in lashing out. Am I reaching with this metaphor? Sure. But I work in emotional narratives so that’s how we’re working this one. Like the left out kid, the free radical will eventually lash out if left at sea causing damage to your cells in the form of oxidation. Like how your apple gets brown when you leave it in the open air. That’s what can happen to your cells. So antioxidants, metaphorically, ┬ákeep your stray children with play pals or keep your inner apple from turning brown. Now, like kids, these radicals won’t just latch on to ANYTHING you toss at them. So you benefit from including a wide variety of antioxidants in your diet because different radicals attach to different antioxidants. You can’t just eat, say, blueberries, a wonderful little cache of antioxidants, and think That’s It. I’m Totally In The Clear From This Cancer Bullshit! In fact, some even work indirectly and don’t necessarily go out and find their own radical to partner up with. Some work undercover, supporting your system to bolster its own antioxidant stronghold.

This is not the kind of Free Radical I'm talking about.

Research shows that oxidation is linked to some of the most common and brutal diseases we grapple with such as cancer, immune disorders and heart disease. Recent research has shown that they are responsible, in part at least, for the aging process. Now, I personally am totally behind the aging process. I am ready to be the most awesome, foxy, wizened old crone around. In fact, I remember going to the Richard Avedon show at SFMOMA a few years ago and wandering around looking at macro close-ups of famous people and thinking, “There will never be a show like this again. No one will be able to make photographs like this in our culture of Botox and Photoshop and Old is Bad. I felt kind of sad about it, the absence of wrinkles and age spots and CHARACTER. I’m just going to go anead and get old. And I am going to spend the rest of my life eating well so that aging hopefully goes well. Also if you ever have the opportunity to walk into a room of enormous Avedon portraits, do yourself the favor of beholding that work. DANG.

Hi. I'm Marian Anderson and I'm GORGEOUS just how I am.

It’s true that our bodies produce enzyme antioxidants to neutralize the free radicals within the cell and prevent oxidation. It’s just that with the way things go these days with so much stress, fast food, drugs, pollution and a serious lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in our daily diets, we end up suffering an excess of free radicals in the body increasing the risk of damage to our gorgeous little cells and therefor the risk of developing these diseases.

So try and work in some blueberries, chia seeds, black plums, red beans, artichoke hearts, goji berries and cherries. And if remembering this is too irritating, eat by color. The more colors your produce and legumes present on your plate, the higher your chances of hitting all your nutrient notes.

Delicious. Good looking. In season now.


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