Antioxidants in nature

August 05, 2008

Antioxidants in Nature

The human body is a factory of many products and byproducts through various chemical reactions. Every function of the body is more or less a derivative of a reaction. Digestion of food takes place by reaction of food with acids, respiration is an oxidation process where energy is released and further utilized by different cells at various sites in form of tissues or organs. At times, the byproducts formed during these biochemical reactions are hazardous. These entities are themselves unstable entities and are very reactive and are called ‘free radicals’. These free radicals attach themselves to other chemicals in the body, body tissues containing proteins which covers practically all of them and other vital building blocks of the body. This attachment is damaging as the entire tissue or organ is eaten up. Moreover by many unwanted chemical reactions and physical actions, the free radicals cause many diseases like atherosclerosis, cancer, and accelerate aging too!

As the number of foreign bodies normally not accustomed to it increases, the chances of formation of free radicals increases. Pollutants like carbonaceous particles, arsenic, and other water and land pollutants increase the formation of free radicals. Factors like stress, tension, tiredness, improper sleep also enhance the production. Hence avoidance of conditions favorable for free radical formation is the best alternative for avoiding detrimental diseases.

Nature has always played a balancing act . If man is increasing complexities for himself by adding to free radicals, nature is helping him out by bestowing natural antioxidants which inactivate the free radicals and stop the detrimental action. These antioxidants stop unwanted oxidation in the body which involve the formation of free radicals and further deteriorate the condition of the body. Some natural antioxidants are mentioned below:

Aloe Vera

This looks like a spiny cactus that has a rosette type arrangement of the leaves. The leaves store and use nutrients for the plant in form of gel like substance which is the active substance with antioxidant properties. This plant has offered medical applications to humanity right from the fourth century. Some conditions where the antioxidant properties of the plant are used are:

  • Flu
  • Chicken pox
  • Herpes
  • Skin allergies

In addition to antioxidant properties, aloe vera also has healing properties used in ulcers. Also, diabetes mellitus is documented to improve with aloe vera.

Green tea

Tea has been used from time immemorial to treat diseases and offer better immunity to mankind. Several aches and pains, depression and other minor illnesses are very well taken care of by tea alone. There are various types of tea and the one with most potent active components offering medicinal properties is green tea.

Green tea is not fermented and hence the tannins and medicinal components including vitamins and minerals remain in active form in green tea unlike black tea. Some constituents of green tea with antioxidant properties are

  • Poly phenols
  • Epigallocatechin gallate

On account of these constituents, green tea is very effective in mitigation and prevention of cancer and atherosclerosis along with diabetes mellitus.

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