It is known for several years that foods contain other substances in addition to vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that produce energy. Experts are discovering these substances one by one. The more you go on with the discoveries and the more the role played by these substances together with the nutrients in keeping our body healthy becomes clear.
There are antioxidants that are part of known nutrients, such as vitamin E, vitamin C and selenium, and there are new non-nutritional antioxidants such as carotenoids, phytochemicals and polyphenols. These substances help remove the molecules that attack the healthy cells of the body making it vulnerable to tumors.
The same oxygen we breathe without which we can not live can become one of our worst enemies. Oxidising action is necessary for existence; however, excess is harmful and destructive to the body. Four destructive forms of oxygen have been identified: the hydroxyl and hyperoxide radicals (the two free radicals) and the "non-radical reactive species", reduced molecular oxygen and hydrogen peroxide.
Destructive oxygen reactions have been related to at least 50 diseases including tumor, cardiopathy, premature aging, cataracts, peptic ulcer, diverticolitis, drepanocytic disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson's disease, leukemia, pancreatitis, asthma, infarction, colitis ulcerative, hemorrhaging in the cerebral cavity and AIDS.
Oxidation reactions occur when a free oxidant or radical is created that has lost an electron and is therefore no longer stable. In its quest for stability, the radical seizes anything that's nearby, causing other healthy cells to lose part of their elements and thus creating new radicals in a chain reaction.When
radicals attack fat molecules, they break away (vitamin E plays a protective role in this process) starting a deterioration that can lead to the disease. When these free radicals attack DNA molecules and begin to change them, conditions are created for tumor development and other degenerative conditions, including aging.
Free oxidants or radicals are caused by stress, metabolism scraps, cigarette smoking, drugs, toxic chemicals, ionising radiation, ultraviolet rays such as solar, food contaminants and pesticides. Extremely tiring physical exercises (high intensity and short duration activities) can stimulate the creation of free radicals.The
body, in order to defend itself against free radicals, produces macrophages of free radicals or endogenous antioxidants. These substances created by the body, capture and destroy excess free radicals, preventing them from causing other damage. A natural body antioxidant is superoxide dismutase (SOD), which fights free radical superoxide. Superoxide is believed to be the most dangerous of the four free radicals.
Other antioxidants are catalase and GHS (which combat hydrogen peroxide).
The most important antioxidant vitamins to be taken externally are vitamin C (1000 mg, divided into two daily doses for women, 1500 mg divided into two daily doses for men), vitamin E (400 UIs from 22 to 50 years , 60 mg per day over 50 years), and beta-carotene (25,000 IU per day from 22 to 50 years and 50,000 IU per day over 50 years).
Exercise helps to give oxygen to the body and if done wrong it can increase free radicals in the body. The above amounts remain unchanged for those who do not practice sports or who exercise for less than 80% of the target heartbeat. The recommended doses for those who carry out activities above 80% of the target heartbeat are 200 IU of vitamin E, 2000 mg of vitamin C for women and 3000 mg for men and 50000 IU of beta-carotene on a daily basis.
To get these amounts of vitamins you should consume large amounts of food; to avoid weight gain problems, it is recommended that you use supplements. It is believed that a selenium supplement (50 to 100 mcg) has positive effects because it strengthens the GSH.
The studies on the benefits of coenzyme Q10 continue on people who practice sports intensively.
It is advisable to consult a doctor before taking any vitamin, because certain doses may have side effects. Vitamin E should be taken especially in its natural form, because it is the most present in organ tissues. The terms to look for on labels are d-alpha tocopherol and d-alpha tocoferyl. Also acetate or succinate terms also indicate a more natural and biologically correct form.
Vitamin E of synthetic origin, however, can protect against LDL oxidation. Beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, should be taken instead of the proper vitamin A.
Vitamins should be taken at the time of meals, and water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C should be taken several times a day. Fresh, freshly packed or frozen foods have more antioxidants than canned, treated or heated foods.
The more coloured the fruits or vegetables, the greater the amount of antioxidants contained. Raw or cooked food have more antioxidants than boiled or cooked, whole foods are best recommended for juices, and cold squeezed extra virgin olive oil is more advised than heated fruits. Foods should be consumed immediately after purchase. It is advisable to wash them with a biodegradable detergent to remove any residual chemicals.
One of the first discoveries in the non-nutritional field were carotenoids, antioxidants that work to destroy free radical creating bacteria. There are many carotenoids and among them we find beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, glutathione and quercitin.
Recently, the hypothesis that the carotenoid responsible for their incredible antioxidant action is not just one, but the combination of all known and unknown substances in foods. Some foods such as oranges, red fruits and green leafy vegetables are vital to health and well-being.
Another category of antioxidant substances, recently discovered, are the phytochemicals contained in fruits and vegetables. Currently their contribution to the prevention and treatment of diseases and disorders is being researched. It is believed to be the result of a natural evolution in the process of protecting the plant from excess solar radiation. The National Institute of Science has recently launched a multi-millionaire program for their study.
Phytochemistry seems to block the processes that lead to cancer and can disrupt tumors. Some foods rich in phytochemicals are strawberries, grapes, pineapple, raspberries, carrots, cauliflowers, cabbage, brussel sprouts, green peppers, cabbage, silage, soybeans, hot chili peppers, garlic and onions.A phytochemical
component called sulphorphan is present in broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, crabs and cabbage. This element has prevented the development of breast cancer in laboratory animals. The results of the studies have shown that the same substance also protects against cancer in general. Raspberries, strawberries and grapes neutralise carcinogens before they can attack.
Sulfuraphane is very stable and is not destroyed by microwave or traditional cooking. It seems that the synthetic form is equally or even more effective and stable. These substances, which detoxify and remove carcinogenic substances from the stomach before they can be detrimental, have been attributed to the enhancement of Phase II Enzymes.
At almost, all levels of evolution toward cancer, the phytochemicals present in fruits and vegetables seem to interfere or stop growth in some way. It has been estimated that tomatoes have about 10000 phytochemicals (two are p-cumaric acid and chlorogenic acid) that destroy carcinogens called nitrosamines before they can join amines. Whole fruits are more effective than juices, but juices also inhibit the production of nitrosamines.
Another phytochemical called isothiocyanate phenethylate (PEITC) is found in the silage and cabbage (even when it is chopped). This phytochemical has performed a protective action against lung cancer caused by chemical agents such as smoking in laboratory animals, preventing the cancerous substance from reaching healthy cells.
A phytochemical called genistein is found in soybeans and has prevented increase in size of small prostate cancers. Hundreds of studies show that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables decreases the risk of cancer.
Phytoestrogens are compounds present in foods that are transformed into a weak form of estrogenic substance. They can create an environment that prevents the formation of hormone-like tumors such as the breast or prostate cancer. Although these compounds are weaker than estrogen, they bind to the receptors that are usually used by stronger substances, thereby blocking access to the body.
Some studies have shown that women with high levels of phytochemicals in blood have lower levels of strong estrogen in the body. Japanese women who follow their traditional diet have a fourfold less chance of having breast cancer compared to American women.They
also have less hip fractures and an easier menopause. Soybeans and all soy products such as soy milk, tofu, natto, tempeh, miso, soy sauce (low in sodium), Kinnoko flour, soybean flour and solidified soy protein, contain many phytoestrogens.
Other non-nutrient substances are polyphenols, antioxidant compounds present in fruits and vegetables, which help prevent cancer (for that of the stomach and lungs have been done with tea) and heart disease. They are found in onions, apples, strawberries, nuts, sweet potatoes, wine, coffee, black tea (the American type) and green tea (the Chinese type). Polyphenols give tea the texture and body, the feeling that makes it different from coffee.
Experiments on green tea have been made and it has been proven that it can give the following benefits: burn body fat, promote antioxidant action against free radicals, work with vitamin C and E to improve its action, protect smokers from the radicals, protect the skin from ultraviolet rays, prevent clots formation, lower LDL cholesterol and increase cholesterol HDL, decrease blood pressure, protect against caries, gingivitis and food poisoning and inhibit influenza viruses.
Research on green tea is currently underway in relation to the AIDS virus. Pregnant women should not drink more than five cups a day.