As you run, swim, ride or work out, your body consumes much more oxygen than when you are at rest. It also produces many more free radicals during heightened activity, which contribute to muscle fatigue and to the muscle damage and inflammation that make it hard to workout again the next day.
The natural enemies of free radicals are antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals and thereby limit their effects. Research has shown that antioxidant-rich foods offer benefits to runners and other endurance athletes. Studies have also shown that muscle damage and inflammation are reduced when athletes consume antioxidants, and that muscle strength improves significantly faster.
Dangers of Free Radicals
Antioxidants prevent the oxidative damage that free radicals do to your body’s cells. Although your body naturally produces free radicals and the antioxidants to neutralize them, free radicals normally outnumber the antioxidants. When this happens, free radicals can have negative effects on your body and performance.
The negative effects of free radicals include:
- inflammation affecting muscle performance.
- deterioration to the lens of your eye, which can lead to blindness.
- damaging nerve cells in the brain, which leads to diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.
- joint inflammation such as arthritis.
- rapidly accelerating the aging process.
- making LDL cholesterol attach itself to your artery walls, leading to a higher chance of heart disease.
- damage to cell DNA, which can lead to some cancers.
This is why it is important to ensure you are getting enough antioxidants from external sources.
Health Benefits of Antioxidants
Since antioxidants neutralize free radicals, they can prevent the oxidative damage that can lead to disease. There are many types of antioxidants, and each one can impact different parts of your body. They include:
- lycopene, which can lower the risk of developing prostate cancer.
- lutein, which can lower the risk of eye lens degeneration.
- flavonoids, which can reduce the risk of heart disease.
- proanthocyanidin, whicah can be beneficial for urinary health.
- carotene, which has benefits for eye health.
- vitamin E, which can prevent skin damage.
- immune system support from astaxanthin and spirulina.
Good Sources of Antioxidants
There are many plant sources rich in antioxidants, including the following:
- allium sulphur – onions, leeks, garlic
- anthocyanins – grapes, berries, eggplant
- beta-carotene – mangoes, pumpkin, carrots, apricots, parsley, spinach
- catechins – tea, red wine
- copper – milk, nuts, seafood, lean meat
- flavonoids – citrus fruits, green tea, onion, apples, red wine
- isoflavonoids – milk, peas, tofu, lentils, soybeans
- lutein – spinach, corn, green leafy vegetables, corn
- lycopene – watermelon, tomatoes
- polyphenols – oregano, thyme
- selenium – lean meat, whole grains, seafood
- vitamin E – nuts, seeds, avocado, whole grains and vegetable oils
If you think you are not getting enough antioxidants in your daily diet, try working some of the above foods into your meals in addition to INVIGOR8, which contains a green veggie complex that provides anti-inflammatory antioxidants and other benefits.