Free Radicals – What Makes Them So Bad?

How Free Radicals Damage Cells

These nasty chemicals called free radicals are a major threat to our body’s cells.   The body generates free radicals as a byproduct of turning food into energy and can be found in the food we eat and the air we breathe.   Some are generated by sunlight and absorbed through the skin or eyes.   They come in different shapes, sizes, and chemical ann j. peters,dr ann peters,dr. ann j. peters,md,md longevity ann j. peters md & dr. ann peters,md longevity reviewsconfigurations, but they are all capable of damaging cells and genetic material.   Free radical damage is involved in the early stages of artery-clogging atherosclerosis and contributes to cancer, vision loss, and many other chronic conditions.

Free Radicals have an “appetite” for electrons and take them from substances that will allow them to.   As explained by Harvard’s School of Public Health “This electron theft can radically alter the “loser’s” structure or function.   Free radical damage will change the instructions coded in a strand of DNA”.  An example of how free radicals can impact our body is when they produce LDL (low-density lipoprotein), also called “bad cholesterol”.   This molecule is very likely to get trapped in an artery wall.  Free radicals can also alter a cell’s membrane and change the flow of what enters and exits the cell.

The good news is that we are not defenseless against free radicals.  Antioxidants give electrons to free radicals “without turning into electron-scavenging substances themselves”.  While each antioxidant has a unique chemical behavior and biological property, no single antioxidant can do the work of many.  This is why diet and anti-aging are so connected.   There are possibly thousands of different substances that can act as antioxidants.   Common vitamins in food like C, E, and beta-carotene are important to helping provide needed nutrition because they provided the different antioxidants a body needs.  Studies have shown that people with low intakes of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables were at greater risk for developing a chronic condition, and that people who ate plenty of these fruits and vegetables live longer.  The body will continue to resist the relentless attack of free radicals as surely as water douses fire if it receives proper nutrition.

See my article on foods high in antioxidents HERE

About Dr. Ann J Peters: 
Dr. Ann J Peters specializes in anti-aging therapies, natural hormone optimization, low glycemic and anti-inflammatory nutrition and maintaining ideal body composition. Her goal is to help clients look, feel and live longer and healthier lives by delaying, preventing and reversing the signs and symptoms of aging. She attained her medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). Dr. Peters completed her medical internships and fellowships at Cornell Medical Center, New York, Harvard School of Public Health and Ospadali Galleria in Genoa, Italy. She is affiliated with the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, European Academy of Quality of Life and Longevity Medicine, and the International Hormone Society For more information, please visit: http://www.drannjpeters.com/. You may also follow her on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Foods that Fuel Anti-Aging

Founder of MD Longevity and Anti-Aging Expert, Dr. Ann J Peters, shares how key foods impact aging.

The top Anti-Aging foods Dr. Ann Peter’s recommends are packed with antioxidants.  Foods including berries will help you age successfully.   The darker or bluer varieties berries, such as blueberries or blackberries, have the highest antioxidants.  A study published in the Annals of Neurology determined that eating blueberries or strawberries consistently will help prevent mental decline as we grow older.

The antioxidant compounds found in Green Tea, called “polyphenols”, give it a bitter taste but offer more antioxidants than some vitamin C.  Green Tea has been used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine to aid in digestion and to prevent heart disease for decades.   However, Dr. Peters warns about the sugary Green Tea soft drinks on the market today ann j. peters,dr ann peters,dr. ann j. peters,md,md longevity ann j. peters md & dr. ann peters,md longevity reviewsand recommends the old-fashioned brew.  She also notes that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “does not consider it appropriate to fortify snack foods like carbonated beverages” and advises patients not to purchase these.  In addition to the antioxidants Green Tea offers, there is research that it may also lower cholesterol and prevent several types of cancers such as bladder, breast, ovarian, and colon cancer.

Fish, including salmon, herring, tuna, sardines, are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids.  Eating these types of fish will help prevent heart disease and can fight inflammation.  Dr. Peters recommends fish because it reduces mortality rates, especially in people who have had a heart attack.  Since fish is high in protein and low in saturate fat it is much better than other types of meat.  The American Heart Association recommends fish for your heart health and believes omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats).  Dr. Peters warns that some fish, like shark, swordfish, contain higher levels of mercury and other environmental contaminants.  Shrimp, salmon, canned light tuna, and catfish have lower levels of mercury and for seniors, the benefits far outweigh the potential risk of mercury in fish.

Red wine is good for your heart.  It is high in antioxidants and an anti-aging component called resveratrol.  According to a Harvard study, resveratrol reduces blood clots, decreases inflammation, and possess anti-cancer properties.

We know vegetables are good for our health, but recent studies show there is more to this idea and that consuming more vegetables high in antioxidants will help maintain our memory as we age.  Vegetables high in vitamins such as vitamin A, K, C, and E (i.e. broccoli, carrots, spinach, asparagus, and kale) cooked or raw, are rich in antioxidants.

Olive Oil also contains polyphenols. Researchers believe the benefits of olive oil included memory improvement, digestive health, and in skin care if used topically.

Yogurt contains “friendly bacteria,” or probiotics that are naturally present in the digestive system. It also contains protein and calcium.

Dark Chocolate, with its cocoa falavonols, is on the list because it offers significant anti-cancer properties as well.  Animal Studies have shown the compounds in cocoa can improve the cognitive abilities of older animal and increase their lifespan.

Dr. Peter’s says “The old saying…”the better you eat, the better you will feel” is a scientific fact”, and that “by including Yogurt, Olive Oil, Fish, Berries, Leafy Vegetables, Green Tea, Wine and Chocolate into your diet you are sure to not only enjoy your meal but benefit from it”.

About Dr. Ann J Peters: 
Dr. Ann J Peters specializes in anti-aging therapies, natural hormone optimization, low glycemic and anti-inflammatory nutrition and maintaining ideal body composition. Her goal is to help clients look, feel and live longer and healthier lives by delaying, preventing and reversing the signs and symptoms of aging. She attained her medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). Dr. Peters completed her medical internships and fellowships at Cornell Medical Center, New York, Harvard School of Public Health and Ospadali Galleria in Genoa, Italy. She is affiliated with the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, European Academy of Quality of Life and Longevity Medicine, and the International Hormone Society For more information, please visit: http://www.drannjpeters.com/. You may also follow her on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Vitamin C: What & Why

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While we hear about the benefits of Vitamin C on a nearly daily basis, few of us know the real ins and outs of this nutrient, which our bodies treat like a vitamin. We know it can be found in citrus fruits and is frequently touted as the way to beat the common cold.

But many of us don’t know that there are several foods, vegetables and fruits which pack more Vitamin C punch than the oft touted orange. And while commercials and health blogs repeatedly recommend you up your Vitamin C intake to bolster your immune system, we’re unaware of many other ways ascorbic acid benefits a well body.

Vitamin C, ascorbic acid, acts as an antioxidant when introduced to the human body. This means it fights the free radicals which damage cells and advance, or at least advance some of the symptoms/signs of, aging. Our lifestyles and the lifestyles of those who surround us bring us into proximity with a variety of free radicals every day, air pollution, cigarette smoke (both first and second-hand), and even sunlight.

Here are some more fast facts about Vitamin C:

  • helps our bodies absorb iron (helps anemics)
  • required in order for our bodies to make collagen (aids in healing)
  • may shorten the length of a cold for those who take in enough via diet and/or supplements

Vitamin C research regarding other medical and healthful healthful benefits is ongoing.

“Vitamin C has received a great deal of attention, and with good reason. Higher blood levels of vitamin C may be the ideal nutrition marker for overall health,” says study researcher Mark Moyad, MD, MPH, of the University of Michigan. “The more we study vitamin C, the better our understanding of how diverse it is in protecting our health, from cardiovascular, cancer, stroke, eye health [and] immunity to living longer.” Source Article

That should be enough information to get you on board about getting more Vitamin C on a regular, if not daily, basis. Our bodies do not store Vitamin C, so it is important to maintain a diet and supplement regimen that provides plenty of ascorbic acid. Beyond orange juice, oranges and grapefruit you can add plenty of:

  • red and green peppers
  • cantaloupe
  • broccoli
  • tomatoes and tomate juice (read labels for additives, sugar & sodium content)
  • kiwi
  • red cabbage
  • kale
  • brussels sprouts
  • cauliflower
  • strawberries

Phytochemicals: Pile Your Plate High!

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Phytochemicals are the chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants (phyto means “plant” in Greek), giving them their deep hues and often delicious smells. Think of the rich reds of a ripe tomato or the sharp, yet enticing smell of garlic. While phytochemicals are considered valuable to a healthy lifestyle and diet, many are not considered essential nutrients. Studies into the benefits of phytochemicals are evaluating and considering the potential to affect diseases such as cancer, stroke and metabolic syndromes.

Some of the more often discussed and cited phytochemicals include beta carotene and other carotenoids, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), folic acid, and vitamin E.

Phytochemicals are broken down into several different subgroups including polyphenols, flavonoids and antioxidants. When you hear the simplified statement to “eat a rainbow on your plate”, it’s in reference to the wide variety of phytochemicals available in richly colored fruits and vegetables, and even nuts and grains. The rich orange hue of a carrot, for example, is evidence that it contains more than 100 phytochemicals.

Our eyes don’t lie. Those rich and robust colors entice us to eat these fruits and vegetables because they are so nutrient dense. So pile your plate high with phytochemicals and reap the health benefits.

Beneficial Berries

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What makes berries such a power-packed addition to a healthy and well diet? They’re packed with phytochemicals, antioxidants which help protect cells from damage and free radicals.

Adding brightly colored blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries can benefit our minds and bodies in a variety of ways, including:

1. Berries Add Something Sweet To A Diabetic Diet: Though they are sweet, the fiber in berries makes them a smart bet when looking for a serving of fruit.

2. Berries For Weight Control: Because these sweet red, purple and blue fruits are packed with fiber and juice, they leave the eater feeling full. Feeling satisfied makes it easier to build and maintain healthy eating habits.

3. Berries May Fight Cancer: Blueberries and raspberries, full of flavonoids, may lead to breakthroughs in cancer research and treatment. Research published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis has suggested that flavonoids and other compounds found in berries may reduce colon cancer risk.

4. Berries For Better Vision: Blueberries and raspberries contain lutein. Lutein is a carotenoid, related to vitamin A and concentrated in your retinas – vital for normal vision.

5. Berries Benefit the Brain: A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that berries help the brain stay healthy in several ways. We’ve already mentioned that antioxidants protect from cell damage and free radicals. The report also detailed the way berries change the way neurons in the brain communicate, preventing damaging inflammation.

They’re small, colorful and sweet, but boysenberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and cranberries are a powerful addition to smart and healthy nutrition.