How to maximise your health: Understanding probiotics and antioxidants.
There are often claims made these days about the almost magical properties of probiotics and so-called super-foods that it’s difficult to work out what’s true and what’s just hype. It seems reasonable that fresh, natural foods must be good for you, but what do they actually do for our bodies? And what are probiotics anyway?
One of the main functions of super-foods in the body is to increase the level of antioxidants. These antioxidants fight free radicals, which contribute to inflammation and ageing. They can also help to fight heart and vascular disease.
Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that are found in the gut, which support digestion and help boost your immune system.
They can be depleted by a lack of fibre, processed foods, pesticides, antibiotics and lifestyle factors such as smoking.
Below are 5 super-foods that can help transform your health by increasing your body’s antioxidant levels and by replacing the healthy bacteria you need to keep your gut happy.
No, sorry, but cacao is not a super-food that has been hiding in sugary, fatty chocolate bars without you even knowing it. Raw cacao is not roasted, unlike the ingredient in chocolate bars. Because of this it retains its nutrient properties and is full of antioxidants. It tastes bitter by itself, so cacao is usually sprinkled on other foods or blended into a nutrient rich smoothie. Its antioxidant properties help to fight the free radicals in your body and it has natural mood-boosting properties.
2. White Tea
Green tea has been increasing in popularity recently, but what is white tea? Well, it’s not just tea with milk added! White tea is made from the most delicate, new leaves of the tea plant and undergoes less processing. Its refined flavour is light and pleasant, and it has antioxidant and antimicrobial effects. In China, white tea is drunk to improve the appearance of the skin and for oral hygiene.
3. Green, Leafy Vegetables.
When your mother told you to eat your greens, she was so right! Broccoli, spinach and kale are bursting with antioxidants, but make sure you don’t overcook them. The closer to raw you can have them the better, as many of the nutrients are temperature-sensitive. Try adding leafy greens to a smoothie, or eating cruciferous veggies lightly steamed or roasted and sprinkled with spices to enhance the flavour without adding processed sauces or dressings.
4. Curcumin or Turmeric
This is more than just a spice you find in food from your local Indian restaurant. Curcumin has been known for generations in India for its mind-boosting qualities. And it also has antioxidants to fight all those nasty free radicals.
Yogurt contains plenty of living probiotic bacteria. Eat it to replace your gut bacteria after a course of antibiotics, or if you are feeling bloated or suffering from indigestion. Choose natural yogurts such as Greek yoghurt, rather than varieties with added sugar, for a protein and probiotic filled snack that will leave you feeling satisfied.
Apart from making sure your diet is the best it can be, there’s also another way to boost your body’s levels of antioxidants.
Ubiquinol occurs naturally in all of our bodies, but when we are tired, overworked, stressed or just getting older (particularly after the age of 30) our Ubiquinol levels decline.
You can quickly reverse this by taking Ubiquinol as a supplement. Ubiquinol is a highly efficient antioxidant to combat this oxidative stress, and will help improve your energy level and offset any free radicals within the body.
Always read the label. Use only as directed. To find out which supplement is right for you, consult your healthcare practitioner.
Article written by Stephen Eddey, Naturopath M.H.Sc.,B.Comp.Med.,Dip.App.Sc.(Nat).,Ass.Dip.Chem.Cert.I.V.(Workplace Training and Assessment) for What’s New in Fitness.