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Importance of antioxidants and phyto-nutrients - Immunity boosters
Friday, 31 July, 2020, 13 : 00 PM [IST]
Kamayani Naresh
Homo sapiens have been gifted with a complex physiology body that works much like a machine. Like a machine requires good quality and adequate quantity of fuel to run it, the best fuel for us is a good and proper meal. The food we eat must provide all the necessary resources which can fuel up the human machine and ensure its efficient working and smooth functioning along with the repair work needed. If we do not eat right, the entire body, the metabolic processes would suffer and the health tends to deteriorate.

Food is conglomerate term for a variety of substances that can be categorised as healthy and unhealthy.  Earlier people used to have a balanced diet which was a combination of all vital and essential nutrients in the right quantity that made the human body healthy and they were free from diseases.

On the contrary, today the food habits have evolved over time such that present day demands for the same are based on maximising sense gratification through minimum time, effort and economics. This has led to a decline in the quality of food being consumed.  

Maximum nutritive value
Due to the new mechanical world we tend to overlook the subtle sensibilities of nature, for example the idea that certain fruits and vegetables have maximum nutritive value during the season they are available in - citrus plants by nature, bear fruit in the winter because it is during this season that flu is common and our body requires a higher level of immunity. With scientific developments and excessive capitalist tendencies in all spheres around us, the unregulated growth of vegetable and fruit hybrids amongst other drawbacks, has resulted in nutritive values of these products declining and their high disposition to disease.

With the world witnessing changing and cleansing trends people are now conscious about their food and nutrition intake, however, at times the synthesising system of our body becomes defunct due to various factors and this is where supplements play an important role.

For healthy functioning of body
Vitamins and minerals are compounds that are necessary for the healthy functioning of our body. Vitamins are organic substances made by plants or animals, minerals are inorganic elements that come from soil and water and are absorbed by plants or eaten by animals. Though eating an optimum diet is ideal to maintain the level of vitamin and minerals, in certain situations, irregularities can be rectified through supplement intake as well.

Scavenge and neutralise free radicals
Antioxidants are compounds in food that scavenge and neutralise free radicals. Free radicals are those unstable chemicals which damage cell membranes and other structures. A free reign of free radicals can cause diseases of heart and liver and certain types of cancer. Other factors like stress, smoking and alcohol also play a role in their growth. Lycopone in tomatoes, Lutein in spinach and corn, Flavonoids in tea are some examples of antioxidants. A good diet which contains high levels of antioxidants reduces risks of various diseases including that of heart and certain kinds of cancer. Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals, unstable molecules that the body produces as a reaction to environmental and other pressures.

At times, in keeping with certain factors such as lifestyle and age, it may not be possible to fulfil the body's antioxidant requirement through dietary intake. In such cases supplements are recommended.

Phytonutrients help prevent disease
Phytonutrients are chemicals which are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory activities. Phytonutrients help prevent disease and keep your body working properly. They perform certain essential functions such as enhancing immunity and intercellular communication, repairing DNA and so on. They are especially found in coloured fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts, tea, whole spices and so on. Studies have proven that a plant-based diet consumed over a period of time helps repair the gradual damage done to our body. More than 25,000 phytonutrients are found in plant foods.

A proper and well balanced diet, which must include antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phyto-nutrients, is the best. We are what we eat and so it is essential to eat healthy, respect and listen to the needs of our body. Our body is our sanctum and should be treated with utmost care and respect, for the mind, body and soul exist in a delicate and interconnected balance.

Increasing the amount of phytonutrient-rich foods in your diet can boost antioxidant activity and your immune health. Although these compounds are available in supplement form, they are best consumed through natural foods, specifically fruits and vegetables.

(The author is founder of Zyropathy Healthcare Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi)
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