Gimme My Antioxidants
The good news is, your body has an anti-free radical system, called antioxidants, that prevents oxidants from damaging cells. Antioxidants also help keep the heart beating strong and protect the tiny blood vessels that transport nutrients and oxygen to brain cells. Since 20% of the heart’s output goes to the brain, all of these benefits mean improved blood flow and better thinking, more energy, improved mood and less stress. The trick is to maintain an antioxidant arsenal equal to or better than the daily onslaught of free radicals.
Stockpiling antioxidants is essential throughout life, especially when we are stressed and as we age. Stress is a death sentence for brain cells. Felling tense and anxious sets off a cascade of events, releasing chemicals and hormones, including cortisol, that generate a free-radical flood that is toxic to brain cells and that undermines your ability to think and be happy. No wonder people with high blood levels of cortisol score lower on memory tests compared to people who are relatively stress-free. As we get older, oxidative damage to tissues, including the brain, intensifies; that means a 60-year-old needs more antioxidant-rich foods than a 30-year-old, who needs more than a 12-year-old.