Importance of Antioxidants
So what are antioxidants and why is it so important to consume them? Antioxidants neutralize free radicals in the body. Free radicals are molecules missing an electron making them unstable. They can try to steal an electron from other healthy cells in the body, causing damage to proteins, lipids and DNA which can lead to disease such as cancer, atherosclerosis and premature aging.
What Causes Free Radicals?
Free radicals or oxidative stress can be caused by inflammation, excessive exercise, mitochondria, cigarette smoke, radiation, pesticides, some drugs, industrial solvents, and environmental pollutants. Some stuff we can avoid, or minimize, but oxidative stress is something that is going to happen no matter how healthy your lifestyle is. The good news is, it can be easily counteracted through antioxidant rich foods and earthing.
Antioxidant Rich Foods
Antioxidant rich foods should be a regular part of your diet to combat free radicals on a regular basis. They are measured by their ORAC score which stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. The numbers are per 100 grams of each food. Now, keep in mind, you probably won’t be eating 100 grams of an herb at a time, but you can see how valuable herbs are to a healthy diet (and they help make food tasty.)
Here is a sampling of some foods and their ORAC scores.
- Unsweetened baking chocolate square - 49944
- Raw, black raspberries - 19220
- Pecans - 17940
- Raw Elderberries - 14697
- Raw, wild blueberries - 9621
- dried oregano - 175295
- dried thyme - 157380
- dried cinnamon - 131420
- dried turmeric - 127068
- dried vanilla beans - 122400
For more ORAC scores, please visit this website: ORAC Values: Antioxidant Values of Common Foods
So what is earthing? Also called grounding, it is the act of making skin contact with the Earth. By making this electrical connection, electrons can move from the Earth and pair with the free radicals in your body, essentially stabilizing them so they can’t cause any cellular damage. One way to practice earthing is to walk around barefoot on a lawn or beach or dirt. Try for 20 minutes at a time daily. There are also earthing devices you can buy to use indoors, such as sheets, pillow cases for your bed and mats you can place your bare feet on while sitting at your desk. These are conductive and plug into the ground prong of an electrical outlet. I have been sleeping on an earthing sheet for years. I feel like I sleep more deeply with it. There are even shoes that have conductive soles (rubber soles are an insulator and electrically insulate you from the earth.) One book I read on the subject a couple years ago is called Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? by Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra and Martin Zucker if you want more information.
Elderberry Syrup Recipe
I picked this recipe as elderberries are very high in vitamins and antioxidants. It is in my natural medicine cabinet for when my kids get sick because it tastes great and I know there will be no struggle for them to take it. I am adding extra herbs into the syrup for more medicinal value and deeper flavor. You can also use this syrup on pancakes or to flavor beverages such as water kefir and kombucha.
I bought some dried elderberries at a local health food store, but you can certainly find them online, or if you’re lucky enough to have a tree nearby, pick them fresh and make the syrup or dry them for another time. (I have a Mexican Elderberry tree on my wishlist.) This recipe uses honey, so please don’t give to kiddos less than 1 year old.
- 1/2 cup dried elderberries (1 cup fresh)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 TBS freshly grated ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup honey
Combine all ingredients except honey in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the liquid has reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Strain into a clean measuring cup, crushing the elderberries to squeeze all the vitamins and liquid through. Mix an equal part honey (approximately 1 cup) with the liquid. Let cool, bottle, label and store in the refrigerator. Keeps for about a month.
Check out my YouTube video making this recipe here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3AYHVqRpNY
Well, I hope I inspired you to have some daily barefoot time outdoors or buy an earthing mat for indoor use as well as consume many antioxidant rich foods with every meal.
With love, hugs and smiles,
"ORAC Values: Antioxidant Values of Common Foods" http://superfoodly.com/orac-values/
"The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases" by James L Oschman, GaetanChevalier and Richard Brown http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4378297/
"Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health" by V. Lobo, A. Patil, A. Phatak and N. Chandra http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/