We all want to be healthier, right?
Let’s imagine that you have a brand new, red Ferrari!
You pull up to a petrol station and you want to fill the petrol tank. You’re now faced with a decision. What petrol do I use in my brand new Ferrari?
The obvious choice would be the petrol with the highest octane (After all, we want the best performance out of our sports car!), and the cleanest burning petrol (We want to look after our Ferrari’s motor and make sure it runs as clean as possible and as long as possible!).
I’d like to think that we’re on the same page as to which petrol would be best for your new red Ferrari!
Unfortunately this very same logic ceases to prevail with everyone when it comes to choosing the correct food (Petrol) for our bodies (Red Ferrari).
Just as an engine can only run at peak performance and peak endurance with the correct type of fuel, so too do our bodies require the correct nutrition to be able to run at peak performance.
The human body has this amazing ability to be able to repair itself when it gets injured or sick, build it’s own defences against diseases and viruses, adapt to stimuli in the form of exercise by building stronger and bigger muscles, increasing the bodies endurance capacity to enable us to work harder, faster and much longer. The human body is by far, more complex and adaptable than any red Ferrari.
Why then do we not apply the very same logic of “Best fuel = Best performance” to our own bodies?
With the advancements in food processing (chemicals, deep frying etc.), storage (canned foods, preservatives etc.), additives (colourants, sweeteners etc.) and refinement (Flour, corn syrup etc.), it has increased the availability and diversity of our food and at the same time brought the cost of food down exponentially.
Unfortunately as much as we have advanced with food, not all of these advancements are healthy for us. The human body cannot digest and deal with all these changes correctly.
These advancements unfortunately lead to an overload in the total toxicity in the human body.
You see, our body is in a constant state of repairing damage caused by oxidation.
As oxygen interacts with cells of any type – an apple slice , in a cut on your skin, the cells lining your lungs or in your body– oxidation occurs.
This produces some type of change in those cells. The cells may die, as with rotting fruit. In the case of cut skin, dead cells are replaced in time by fresh, new cells, resulting in a healed cut. This birth and death of cells in the body is a process that is necessary to keep the body healthy and goes on continuously, 24/7.
Oxidation is a very natural process that happens during normal cellular functions. The processes of breathing, exercising and breaking down food creates free radicals in our body. However, there’s a downside. While the body is very efficient in metabolising oxygen, 1% or 2% of our cells get damaged in the process and their molecules turn into free radicals. “Free radicals” are unstable molecules, with unpaired electrons. They are “free” because they are missing an electron, which sends them on a riot to find another electron to pair its unpaired electron. The new free radical can then pull an electron off the next molecule, and a chemical chain reaction of radical production occurs. The free radicals produced in such reactions often terminate by removing an electron from a molecule which becomes changed or cannot function without it. This chain reaction causes damage to the molecule and cell, and ultimately the DNA that contains it.
Unfortunately as free radicals rob any molecule of the missing electron they damage cells and DNA along the way.
Cross-linking of atomic structures are caused by free radicals, which lead to disease (Particularly cancer) and ageing. Cross-linked fat and protein molecules lead to wrinkles. Heart disease and stroke from plaque in the arteries are caused when free radicals oxidise fat molecules (LDL)
There is hope!
Thankfully our bodies have a natural defence system to cope with free radical damage called antioxidants. The problem comes in when we are eating all the incorrect food as mentioned above and the total load of free radicals become too much for our body to handle. This is when we experience a toxic overload of free radical which cause damage.
Antioxidants are molecules that safely terminate the bad chain reaction before any damage is done by interacting with the free radicals.
This is where eating correctly becomes vital to our everyday lives.
Our body cannot unfortunately manufacture all the main antioxidants that hunt down free radicals.
The main antioxidants to be consumed in the macro-nutrients that our body needs are D-Alpha tacopherol, Beta-carotene, Ascorbic acid and Selenium.
Thankfully nature has provided everything we need to stay healthy and perform at peak performance!