Can We Stop Aging?
Ever taken a bite out of an apple and then set it aside for a few minutes?
What do you notice when you look at the apple, especially the freshly exposed juicy innards?
What was previously light-yellow “meat” has turned a darker, mushier brown.
So what’s going on?
What you witness every time this happens is the apple “aging” in a certain way. Specifically, it’s experiencing free-radical damage.
This is a process where the oxygen in the air steals electrons from the molecules making up the apple. This is called oxidation.
Here’s the kicker:
The same process is happening in your body… right freakin’ now!
Actually, it’s going on constantly. The only reason you haven’t disintegrated into mush (yet) is your body has natural defenses, including the judicious use of antioxidants.
See, your body doesn’t “fight” free radicals in the traditional sense. Instead, it basically gives the free radicals a peace offering to satisfy them.
I’ll use a zombie metaphor because, well, it was the first thing I thought of, and darn it, that’s a good enough excuse to infuse a health article with some zombie stuff:
Think of free radicals like super-strong, unstoppable zombies that seek out regular folks (like you!) and eat them.
Imagine you’re walking down the street and a zombie jumps out in front of you foaming at the mouth and growling something like “Rawrauugh!” or “Government programs improve the community!”
Naturally, you recoil in horror. The zombie charges at you. What do you do?
Well, it’s stronger than you, and you don’t have your gun with you (because some government goon took it away). So to defend yourself, you do the only responsible thing, which is…
Grab the nearest politician and shove him at the zombie to satisfy its lust for human flesh!
It works like a charm. The evil creature eats its close cousin and you escape unharmed.
That’s… sort of… how your body works. When free radicals rummage around your innards for electrons to eat up, antioxidants are thrown into their clutches. The idea being the free radicals and antioxidants come together to form neutral particles, and your actual tissue remains unscathed.
Which is one reason why fruits and veggies are so good for us. They’re chock-full of antioxidants that our bodies can use as bribes in the battle against dastardly free radicals.
Trouble is… sometimes your body runs short on antioxidants. Especially in the right places. Free radical damage can potentially happen anywhere in your body, even in your brain, or deep in the mitochondria in your cells.
And according to the free-radical theory of aging, this is one of the reasons why we age. Some people believe it is aging.
Once people caught onto this idea, they went on antioxidant binges. Scientists investigated. Studies were done. And things got a little more complex… as they tend to do.
Simply eating more antioxidants didn’t magically wash away aging.
That’s because oxidation is actually a necessary and beneficial function in your body… at certain times and in certain places.
For instance, exercise increases oxidation in the body, which enhances insulin sensitivity. This helps you store sugar in the muscles instead of turning it into fat, among many other benefits. The trouble is, a 2009 study out of Germany found supplementation with vitamins C and E (known antioxidants) prevented exercise from enhancing insulin sensitivity.
This is an old story in the weird world of health:
First, a discovery is made… like how antioxidants might help with aging…
Then people jump on the bandwagon…
Then the science shows things are more complicated…
Then stodgy scientists and doctors pooh-pooh the discovery. Sometimes, tragically, it gets buried.
In this case, there’s still something to antioxidants helping repair the age-related wear and tear on our bodies. But it comes down to applying the proper antioxidants where they need to go. As it turns out, there are selective antioxidants that throw themselves in front of the most harmful free radicals.
Very soon, we’ll introduce you to one of the most powerful antioxidants of all, which can even clean up oxidation in your brain. It also works against one of the nastiest free radicals known to man.
In the meantime, Jasmine reminded me, eat brightly colored fruits and vegetables, because they’re high in antioxidants in their natural forms.
I had to ask: “You mean like kale?”
“Yeah, kale is much better than something like, say, iceberg lettuce,” Jasmine answered.
“But iceberg lettuce is brighter!”
After rolling her eyes, she countered, “OK, Nate, richly pigmented fruits and vegetables. Does that work for you?”
“Yes that’s much better.”
See, dear reader? I’m always lookin’ out for ya.
Underground Health Researcher
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