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Antioxidants Can Keep Your Brain Young and Mind Sharp

Why do some people not age and have clarity of mind? Just as apples turn brown or metal to rust as they are exposed to the air, our bodies are also exposed to various atmospheric oxidants, known as free radicals. These free radicals are inevitable because they are everywhere, including food, water and air. They also come from within us, as a by-product of our own metabolism. Some experts believe that free radicals are the true cause of aging.

Our cells are constantly attacked by these free radicals. These attacks, collectively called oxidative stress, can cause cells to lose their structure and function, eventually using their genetic material or DNA. Brain cells can also undergo this oxidative stress. Through DNA damage, these oxidative stress accelerates brain aging and promotes other age-related diseases such as cancer and cataracts.

We can counteract this oxidative process by supplementing our diet with antioxidant vitamins C and E. People with low blood levels of these antioxidant vitamins have poor memory capacity and studies show that people taking these vitamin supplements have better memory capacity, memory loss and cognitive decline.

Some studies suggest that natural antioxidants in the foods we eat provide stronger brain protection and improve our memory. Laboratory animals that eat these natural antioxidant foods show better memory capacity in finding their way through mazes and other tasks. Other studies have shown that people who get their antioxidants from the foods they eat have a lower risk for Alzheimer's disease.

The standard measure of certain foods' ability to cope with oxidative stress is known as "oxygen radical absorption capacity" or ORAC score. This score can tell us how certain foods protect our brain cells from damaging oxygen or free radicals. It is recommended that we consume at least 3,500 ORAC units daily. Specific fruits with high ORAC scores include prunes (5,770), raisins (2,830), Blueberries (2,400), Blackberries (2,040), Cranberries (1,750), strawberries (1,540), Spinach (1,260) 980), Plum (950) ), Avocado (780), Orange (750), Red Wine (740), Cherries (670) and Kiwi (600). The unit shown is 3 ½ ounces.

People who want to make sure they get enough antioxidant foods to improve their memory and brain function can follow the tips below.

· If you double your fruit and vegetable intake, you can increase your diet's antioxidant capacity by 25%

· Drink green tea for its excellent antioxidant properties. It does not have high calorie content.

· Eat more tomatoes for a very high level of antioxidants called lycopene. Eating rich foods with lycopene can increase blood antioxidant activity and is extremely beneficial for those with prostate problems.

· Frozen strawberries and blueberries have higher antioxidant properties than fresh versions, so be sure to check out these great antioxidant snacks in the refreigerator to boost your brain's fitness.

Also remember to drink lots of water to remove toxins from your body, and use more to increase oxygen intake to your body and brain. By eating the right foods, exercising and having a healthy attitude, you can have a healthy mind and body as well as great memory.


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