Whilst free radicals damage cells and DNA, antioxidants are the superheroes who come and straighten everything out.
Good diet, slapping on sunscreen, getting enough sleep, exercise and having a healthy mindset: these are the things in our control when it comes to aging. But where does the damage associated with aging come from, and how can you slow it down?
The Rust: free radicals and oxidative stress
The damage to your cells and DNA that we associate with aging is from oxidative stress made by free radicals. These free radicals damage your body’s cells and DNA and are linked to aging and disease (1, 2).
Imagine your body is like a car: when it is left to weather in tough conditions it begins to rust.
Your body responds quite similarly to oxygen. This process, called oxidative stress, contributes to damage created by free radicals. Over your lifetime these free radicals cause your body to age (1, 2).
The good news is there are antioxidants (think Rust Guard) found in foods and beverages that can reduce this oxidative damage from having such an impact on your body and can promote a healthier and potentially longer life.
Where can you find antioxidants?
There is no magic antioxidant that fights all free radicals. A combination of many different antioxidant types are needed to keep the oxidative stress from damaging your body. Some you may be aware of include vitamins such as vitamin C, E and selenium.
As mentioned above, the best sources of antioxidants are in whole foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and in drinks like tea and coffee (3). Green tea is one of the best sources because it contains particular phytochemicals which are incredibly beneficial: catechins, epigallocatechin, epicatechin gallate, and epigallocatechin gallate and caffeine (4).
Even if you’ve never heard of a single one of these before (besides caffeine), believe me - you need them.
Like different fruits and vegetables, teas have different levels of various antioxidants. Green tea has higher amounts of catechins (one of the powerful polyphenol antioxidants) compared to black and oolong tea. A cup of green tea roughly contains 250–350 mg tea solids, of which 30–42% are catechins and 3–6% caffeine (5, 6).
Based on scientific studies, the antioxidants and phytochemicals in green tea suggest there is a link between green tea and decreased risk of multiple cancers (7, 8). Other benefits that are supported in scientific research include reduction to the risk of diseases like metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases (9).
What can you do to increase your antioxidants?
- Drink green tea daily for both antioxidant properties and to meet the fluid needs of your body (10). Try including tea at regular intervals throughout the day. A study showed the antioxidant effects from green tea happened an hour after the tea was drunk. Remember, we’re avoiding ‘rust’ so enjoying this beverage throughout the day will help keep your body covered for more hours. If you’re nervous about bitter green teas, we’d suggest trying our naturally sweet Eloments Summer Orange green tea blend.
- Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. Each different colour shows you that it contains different antioxidant and phytochemical properties. Aim to eat 2 serves (300g) of fruit a day, which equals one larger piece of fruit (think an apple, pear or orange) and two smaller pieces (like plums, peaches or a cup of diced fruit). You can mix it up on occasion with a no-sugar juice, but whole fruit is better in general (12).
- Watch your vitamin C. This universally important vitamin can be found in strawberries, green capsicums, citrus fruits and white potatoes, and is in many of our Eloments blends extracted from organic Amla berries (11)
- Include whole grains in your diet like quinoa, brown rice, pasta, couscous and seeded breads. When making a plate, whole grains should be around a quarter of the plate to meet your body’s needs.
So here’s what we’re saying:
Eat a balanced and varied diet from foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains as well as beverages rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals like green tea.
Free radicals are a part of the ageing process but you do have some control over the rate and effects of these free radicals, and the oxidative stress your body is put under every day.
Antioxidants (Rust Guards) are how you can keep your body working smoother and longer through regular maintenance to help maintain the health of your body, both now and into the future.
- Diplock AT, Charleux JL, Crozier-Willi G, Kok FJ, Rice-Evans C, Roberfroid M, et al. Functional food science and defence against reactive oxidative species. The British journal of nutrition. 1998;80 Suppl 1:S77-112.
- Jacob RA, Burri BJ. Oxidative damage and defense. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 1996;63(6):985s-90s.
- Liu RH. Health-promoting components of fruits and vegetables in the diet. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md). 2013;4(3):384s-92s.
- Seeram NP, Henning SM, Niu Y, Lee R, Scheuller HS, Heber D. Catechin and caffeine content of green tea dietary supplements and correlation with antioxidant capacity. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry. 2006;54(5):1599-603.
- Khokhar S MSTp, catechin, and caffeine contents of teas commonly consumed in the United Kingdom. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 [cited 2007 20 July];50:565-570. Abstract available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11804530.
- Henning SM F-LC, Lee HW, Youssefian AA, Go VLW, Heber D. Catechin content of 18 teas and a green tea extract supplement correlates with the antioxidant capacity. Nutr Cancer. 2003 [cited 2007 20 July];45:226-235. Abstract available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12881018.
- Yang CS, Wang X. Green tea and cancer prevention. Nutrition and cancer. 2010;62(7):931-7.
- Green tea extracts for the prevention of metachronous colorectal adenomas: a pilot study. Shimizu M FY, Ninomiya M, Nagura K, Kato T, Araki H, Suganuma M, Fujiki H, Moriwaki H Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Nov; 17(11):3020-5.
- Chen ZM, Lin Z. Tea and human health: biomedical functions of tea active components and current issues. Journal of Zhejiang University Science B. 2015;16(2):87-102.
- Rietveld A, Wiseman S. Antioxidant effects of tea: evidence from human clinical trials. The Journal of nutrition. 2003;133(10):3285s-92s.
- Slavin JL, & Lloyd, B. (2012). Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables. Advances in Nutrition, 3(4), 506–516. http://doi.org/10.3945/an.112.002154.
- Health AGDo. Australian Dietary Guidelines Australia: Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council; 2015 [updated 27/07/2015; cited 2017 10/01/2017]. Available from: https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups.
- International W. Dietary supplements For cancer prevention, don’t rely on supplements London: Continuous Update Project; 2016 [updated 2016; cited 2017 9/1/17]. Available from: http://www.wcrf.org/int/research-we-fund/cancer-prevention-recommendations/dietary-supplements.