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Ageless formula

What's the secret of eternal youth? see the answer from experts

If there is one thing on the wish list of most adults, it is to remain forever young and escape the effects of aging. However, getting on in years is something that cannot be avoided. What accelerates the aging process is the polluted environment we inhabit with all its toxins and chemicals, and the part played by free radicals. Although the human body produces a certain amount of antioxidants to counter free radicals, the silver lining is the fact that Nature has generously provided us with enough antioxidants in fruits, nuts, vegetables, and grains/legumes to help halt the damage.
In simple terms, antioxidants are agents that inhibit oxidation and neutralise the oxidant effect of free radicals and other substances, in other words, counter oxidative stress. The rusting of iron, brass artefacts turning black, an apple slice or a piece of raw potato turning brown, are examples of oxidation which happens to all cells in Nature, including the ones in our body.
Free radicals
Says Jeffrey Blumberg PhD, director, Antioxidants Research Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Centre on Aging and Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, USA, “We require oxygen to live but oxygen can be a ‘dangerous friend', as when it is metabolised by our cells, some of it is converted into highly reactive compounds called free radicals. In stable molecules, electrons must be balanced by existing in pairs. Molecules in which an electron is unpaired (or “free”) act rapidly to attack and steal an electron from another molecule damaging it in the process. This damage can initiate or promote a chronic disease. For example, free radical attacks on DNA may lead to changes in our genes and cause cancer, free radical attacks on the clear protein in the eye lens can cause a cataract.”
What is the connect between free radicals and aging, considering free radicals have been implicated in a big way as a cause of aging? Says Dr Kousalya Nathan, Lifestyle and Age Management Consultant, HUMA Hospitals, Chennai, “One of the proven theories of aging is the free radical theory, which asserts that many changes occur during aging, due to excess free radicals.”
Prof. Blumberg corroborates this: “The Free Radical Hypothesis of Aging proposes that the damage done by free radicals to molecules accumulates over time and contributes directly to the aging process. For example, free radicals in the skin generated by ultraviolet light cause thinning and wrinkling associated with aging. Ultraviolet light generates free radicals in the eye lens leading to cataract. Free radicals generated in the cardiovascular system, the lungs and the brain can similarly injure these organs leading to age-related decline in their function.”
External toxins such as cigarette smoke and air pollution which are major free radical generators, compound the damage. Consumption of alcohol, and food and water contaminated with pesticides and toxins are other sources of free radicals that hasten the process.
The best bet
Antioxidants, our best bet against free radicals, are chemical substances that are naturally obtained from plant sources mainly from fruits and vegetables. Dr. Kousalya points out, “Antioxidants are the active components that give fruits or vegetables their colour and identity. Phyto-chemicals from green leafy vegetables; phenolic compounds from wine and olive oil; besides tomatoes, onions, garlic, red grapes, mangoes, prunes, olives, apricots, citrus fruits, carrots, berries and herbs are some good sources of antioxidants. Turmeric is another powerful antioxidant. Our Indian curry (tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, cumin and saffron) is a great antioxidant cocktail.”
Counter to free radicals
How do antioxidants help counter the attack by free radicals?
Says Prof. Blumberg: “Dietary antioxidants are compounds capable of donating an electron to an unpaired set of a free radical, thereby neutralising it. However, when antioxidants become oxidised by giving up an electron they remain relatively stable and non-reactive and are recycled back to their active antioxidant state.”
Is it better to opt for natural antioxidants found in foods as opposed to supplements (for example, Vitamins A, C and E) under medical supervision?
Prof. Blumberg recommends, “While diets rich in deeply coloured fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains, nuts and seeds provide many antioxidants, some people do not follow such diets, and supplementation, particularly with Vitamin C and E, may be useful. Also people with higher levels of oxidative stress (those living in cities with severe air pollution or who smoke or who have diseases associated with greater levels of oxidative stress such as diabetes) may benefit from taking antioxidant supplements.”
Offering a prescription Dr. Kousalya says, “Antioxidant supplementation depends on the health status of an individual and is best personalised. Our traditional Indian meal consisting of hand-pounded rice (containing B complex and fibre) sambar/dhal/rasam with turmeric, green vegetables, yoghurt and seasonal fruits for dessert makes for one of the best anti-aging solutions. ‘Eco Nutrition', ‘Organic Foods' and ‘Rainbow Plate' are concepts to chew on for eternal youth.”
Where to find antioxidants
Vitamin A: Cryptoxanthin is a carotenoid found in papaya, peach, and orange.
Vitamin C: guava, peppers, turnip leaves, broccoli, Brussels sprout, cauliflower, cabbage, strawberries, spinach, lemon juice, mango, asparagus and tomato. Remember Vitamin C content in foods is easily destroyed by light, heat and chemicals.
Vitamin E: Wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds, sesame oil, oatmeal, salmon, brown rice, olive oil, walnut, egg and whole wheat bread.
Selenium: Butter, garlic, barley, wheat germ, milk, orange, cabbage, onions, wine, cottage cheese and bran.
Coenzyme Q 10: Sardines, salmon, spinach and nuts.
Flavonoids: The biggest class of antioxidants are found abundantly in green tea and in dark chocolate (80 per cent plus cocoa)


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