The Ecology of Humans (44-2) Antioxidants


When we consume plants, we also consume the antioxidants in those plants. And they serve us just as faithfully and effectively as they serve the plants, protecting us from free radicals and slowing down the aging process in our cells. ~ American biochemist Colin Campbell

An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. There are a multitude of antioxidants. Many are abundant in leafy green vegetables. All are beneficial.

Oxidative stress damages cells, so a diet of fruits and vegetables that offers antioxidant activity is well advised. In contrast, eating meat creates oxidative stress.

A good thing can be taken too far. Taking antioxidant supplements may exacerbate cancer, even as cancer cells generate higher levels of oxidative stress (ROS) to help feed their abnormal growth.

It has been proposed that reactive oxygen species (ROS) cause mutations, and thus cancer, and that antioxidants counter this effect, but studies suggest that antioxidants do not prevent cancer and may accelerate it. These findings may be due to the cellular location of ROS targeted by antioxidants. ~ Indian American biochemist Navdeep Chandel & American oncologist David Tuveson

This is an example of a cautionary note that high-dose supplements generally ought not be taken without consideration of health condition. There is no substitute for a healthy diet of varied fruits and vegetables.

We are left with a delicate balancing act. Both too many and too few free radicals spell trouble. ~ English nutritionists Aidan Goggins & Glen Matten