Antioxidants and Free Radicals
When a person smokes, high amounts of free radicals are formed in the body, which cause oxidative stress or damage. Free radicals are a group of atoms with an odd number of electrons and is formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. They are highly unstable and they start a chain reaction to be stable. This chain reaction damages the components of a cell in the body such as DNA and the cell membrane. This causes malfunctioning and death of the cell and leads to several diseases and disorders.
How do we prevent our body from such damage? The answer is, by consuming enough antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules which safely interact with free radicals and terminate the chain reaction before any of the vital nutrients and cell organelles are damaged. Micronutrients such as vitamins, beta-carotene, selenium and copper are some of the constituents of antioxidants. They are not formed inside our body and hence we have to take them externally. Hence, we can say that antioxidants can heal the body even if you are smoking, however, it is not as potent as a complete cessation of smoking.
How Antioxidants Can Help
Antioxidants can help stabilize the unstable free radicals that were introduced to the body due to smoking. Risks of diseases and disorders such as fatigue, oral problems and lung cancer post smoking can be minimized with antioxidants. Scientists from University of Rochester are trying to find out the potential of antioxidants in reversing the oxidative stress or damage done by free radicals. They are trying to extract sole resveratrol from red grapes to see how fast antioxidants can work to prevent lung cancer. Scientists believe that this novel study might help millions of people who are seeking help to repair the body after quitting smoking.
Tips to Take Antioxidants
There are several tips and recipes you can try at home to get the benefits of antioxidants and repair the damaged cells of the body. Some of them are:
Beans: Colorful beans such as red, black, or kidney beans are rich sources of antioxidants. They contain eight flavonoids and health experts recommend these have to be eaten at least once a week.
Do you like a traditional sprouted bean dish that is cooked as a kind of popular Indian salad called the Chaat! Mix some sprouted beans with onions, tomatoes, salt, some fresh chilies, few drops of olive oil and lemon juice and a seasoning of fresh chopped coriander and have it as an evening snack. To add more colors on your plate, go for red and black beans that are more potent in nutritional boost.
Blueberries: Blueberries are a darling fruit for those wise women who know how to keep ageing at bay. They are one of the richest sources of antioxidants and do wonders to your skin and body. Eat blueberries to keep away the harmful effects of smoking.
Is availability a question in countries like India? Who said you have to just eat the fruit, blueberry ice creams are available in all ice cream parlors. Nowadays, blueberry juice is also being introduced to the Indian market. Go out for a cup of ice cream or have a glass of blueberry juice in breakfast. If the natural berries are available in your city, you can add them in your bowl of favorite fruit salad and munch them in the evenings.
Broccoli: Broccoli comes with a very impressive nutritional profile which includes folates, vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber and phytochemicals. They need no cooking or any special recipe to make them palatable. Just toss some pieces of broccoli in a bowl with salt and vinegar and eat it as a salad with meal. You can also use them for seasoning on soups, steaks and other dishes.
Tomatoes: Many of us don’t like tomatoes for their tangy flavor and runny texture, but tomatoes are rich in lycopene which increases four times when they are grilled or heated.
Love soups? Try some spicy tomato soups with your favorite toppings such as broccoli, sweet peas, coriander, cream to name a few. You can also grill the tomatoes in your microwave oven and season it with pepper, salt and dry herbs to eat with your lunch.
Dark Chocolates: Dark chocolates are one of the best sources of antioxidants. Studies show that dark chocolates are good for your heart and body, but not the milk chocolates or the white ones. Dark chocolates are rich in flavonoids.
Now you can dig in the dark chocolate cakes and truffles. You can also make chocolate milk shakes and have it at least twice a week.
Smoking is an addiction that cannot be stopped so easily. But there can be no second opinion on the urgent need to kick the habit however old or young you are. So make up your mind and stay determined to quit smoking. While you’re at it, try taking advantage of antioxidants to heal your body faster.