Wellness Pathway #258 The Antioxidant Balance

We continue our series of Wellness Pathways on the vital balances that make for optimal well-being by turning our attention to the antioxidants that are so frequently touted as the key to good health. And, indeed, they are important. But large doses of synthetic antioxidants can tip the balance of the body’s oxidation process in the opposite direction, doing more harm than good.

First, a description of what we are talking about here. Oxidation is an inevitable and continuous part of life. The process stops when we die. Before that time, our continuous inhalation and absorption of oxygen creates toxic molecules known as “free radicals.” They are called “free” because they are missing an electron, making them highly reactive with any other molecule from which they can take an electron.

Lest these “free radicals” damage biologically essential molecules, such as fat, protein, or DNA molecules, the body has devised a way of neutralizing these “free radicals,” the byproducts of oxidation, with antioxidants that occur naturally in the body and in certain foods. The more antioxidant foods we eat, the easier it is for the body to protect itself against the ravages of oxidation. Too few antioxidants and the body will suffer the ravages of premature aging and certain diseases.

So it behooves everyone to eat a diet rich in antioxidants. Want to know how? Last year the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a report on the “Total Antioxidant Capacity” or TAC of 100 common foods. Of the foods they studied, here are the 21 with the highest TAC value per serving, shown in descending order:

Small Red Beans (13,727), Wild Blueberries (13,427), Red Kidney Beans (13,259), Pinto Beans (11,864), Cultivated Blueberries (9,019), Cranberries (8,983), Artichokes (7,904), Blackberries (7,701), Dried Plums or Prunes (7,291), Raspberries (6,058), Strawberries (5,938), Red Delicious Apple (5900), Granny Smith Apple (5,381), Pecans (5,095), Sweet Cherries (4,873), Black Plums (4,844), Russet Potato (4,649), Black Beans (4,181), Plums (4,118), Gala Apple (3,903), and Walnuts (3,846).

If you are not eating these foods on a regular basis, then you may want to modify your diet. Substituting beans for conventional meat while eating large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables are important, health-promoting behaviors. Many people, however, decide to get their antioxidants through vitamins (such as C, E, and the carotenoids) and minerals (such as selenium and zinc) which are often synthesized from chemical sources and isolated from natural food complexes.

In study after study, artificial supplementation has proved to be inferior to natural foods and whole food supplements. At high, “mega” doses, made possible by the synthetic production of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants can end up reacting against the cells they are meant to protect. In other words, at very high doses they do more harm than good.

Fortunately, antioxidants derived from natural foods and whole food supplements, such as those from First Organics, have no demonstrated toxicity (as long as you don’t eat so much that you start gaining weight). So eat, drink, and be merry — with antioxidant-rich foods, that is — because tomorrow you may live.

Coaching Inquiries: Do you maintain a healthy antioxidant balance? Do you eat enough beans, fruits, vegetables, and nuts? Do you supplement with high doses of artificial and synthetic vitamins? What do you know about their quality? How could strike a better balance with the foods you eat and the supplements you take?

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Wellness Coaching programs and to arrange for a complimentary wellness coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Bob.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

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