During festive season we have enjoyed good foods (?) to satisfy our craving of tasty spicy foods without thinking about nutritional values. Even we take sufficient junk foods during festivals. Festive season is over, now lets see what we should take and what not. Sir Robert McCarrison one of the best known nutritionists said : “The right kind of food is the most important single factor in the promotion of health and the wrong kind of food is the most important single factor in the promotion of disease”.
Most of the health-enhancing nutrients in fruits and vegetables are bright colored like red, yellow, orange and green. Dark and intensely-colored plant foods usually contain more chemically active Antioxidant pigments than the pale ones.
‘Your food shall be your medicine’ – said by Hippocrates, one of the famous Greek physicians. Hippocratic philosophy was that – the Nature has an innate power of healing, and that diseases are closely linked to the physical environment.
FREE RADICALS : Normally, the molecules of body cells are balanced; they have an even number of electrons. A Free Radical is a molecule that has lost one of its electrons leaving it with an odd number of electrons. Environmental factors like pollution, Sunlight, X-rays, smoking and eating junk foods also create free radicals. It need to be arrested by means of intake of sufficient Antioxidants (fruits and vegetables). Human body is composed of many different types of cells, which are the building block of the human body. Human body is multi cellular. Free Radicals damage the molecular structures of the cells leading to unstable, unbalance and damaged. In this process the cellular damages lead to diseases or even become malignant causing cancer. Intake of Anti-oxidants can balance the molecules or stop further damaging of cells and may keeps the diseases away.
Let me illustrate it further with an example for easy understanding. Let us assume that you entered into a temple or church or a mosque, with others, leaving shoes at the entrance. There will be a heap of shoes. A thieve arrived there and he stolen one of your shoes (only one piece, not the pair). Now, with one shoe you became unstable, unbalanced and can’t walk. You became unbalanced and will remain unbalance till one shoe is supplied or you steal one shoe of someone. So you became like a unbalance cell- that’s free radical. So having no other way you just picked up a single shoe of someone and became balanced and walked away. You got yourself repaired. Next man also did the same thing and thus started a chain reaction of stealing one shoe of someone. As long as shoes are available, things are managed but the last man will be left with one shoe only. That last man is like a “unbalanced, unstable & damaged cell” which is called a Free Radical. The cell molecule has lost one of its electron from its orbit and has become unbalanced & unstable like that man. Antioxidant has an extra electron which is donated to that unbalanced molecule and the “electron stealing” chain reaction is stopped and the cell became stable. This is how a Free Radical is neutralized by Antioxidant. Antioxidants are stable in either (odd or even electron) form. Therefore it does not become Free Radical by losing one electron.
Normally, bonds don’t split in a way that leaves a molecule with an odd, unpaired electron. But when weak bonds split, free radicals are formed. Antioxidants are nutritional compounds in whole foods that have an extra electrons. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals by donating that extra electron, ending the electron-“stealing” chain reaction. The antioxidant nutrients themselves don’t become free radicals when they “donate” an electron because they are stable in either form (i.e. odd or even).
Our body has a mechanism to combat free radicals, but if antioxidants are inadequately supplied to our system, or if the free-radical production is excessive, damage can occur. Free Radicals accelerates the ageing process. It may be noted here that “Free Radical Damage” accumulates with age. This is why the people who can not afford to take nutritional foods, may appear older than they actually are.
Source of Anti-oxidants : Some of the best bright colored fruits and vegetables are listed below which are rich in Antioxidant pigments :
Mango, Papaya, Pumpkin, sweet potato, Fresh corn, Tomatoes, Grapes (Blueberries), Watermelon, Strawberries, Carrots, Oranges and other Citrus fruits, Sweet peppers (all colors), Kale, Spinach (dark greens). Go for bright coloured vegetables and fruits.
However, faulty cooking and prolonged storage destroy these valuable nutrients to some extent. Most of the vegetables and fruits are, therefore, best consumed in their natural raw state in the form of salads or half boiled.