Antioxidants, Phytonutrients and other-
Quest For Fertility- An increased
need to fight free radicals!
Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar,
is a factor associated with PCOS and
is known to cause free radical damage
(or oxidative stress). Research shows that balancing blood sugar and incorporating antioxidants into the diet may help to reduce oxidant stress. Free radicals have been found to have
detrimental effects on the function of many cells including-
Wait! What is this really about?
Before we move on, we are going to explain what exactly we are doing. Just in case you are confused. Research shows that individual compounds in foods work together to help balance blood sugar, reduce inflammation, quell appetite, and prepare a woman's body for a successful pregnancy. It's sort of like
"musical notes", each adds a unique element to the symphony of your health, not just in boosting fertility, but also helping to stave off diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and many other chronic diseases. However just as the quarterback alone can't win the game, no single nutrient has the ability to conquer disease.
Free radical defense:
Free radicals make about ten thousand attacks every day on the cells in our body. These unstable oxygen molecules have lost an electron and move swiftly, stealing electrons from other molecules. This process in turn creates more free radicals and leaves damaged cells in the wake. Some free radicals arise normally during metabolism, but environmental factors such as pollution, poor food choices, radiation, cigarette smoke, and herbicides can also generate free radicals. Our body's defense- including our immune system and antioxidants produced by the liver (such as glutathione and superoxide dismutase) needs fuel from outside sources to conquer our health-robbing adversary. Quite simply, the fuel is food, and good dietary decisions tip the
odds in favor of increasing fertility and preventing disease.
The Top twenty sources of Antioxidants
Food Serving Size Antioxidants capacity per serving
Small red dried beans half a cup 13,727
Wild Blueberries 1 cup 13,427
Red dried Kidney Beans half a cup 13,259
Pinto bean half a cup 11,864
Cultivated Blueberries 1 cup 9,019
Cranberries 1 cup (whole) 8,983
Artichokes (cooked) 1 cup (hearts) 7,904
Blackberries 1 cup 7,701
Dried prunes half a cup 7,291
Raspberries 1 cup 6,058
Strawberries 1 cup 5,938
Red Delicious Apples One 5,900
Granny smith apples One 5,381
Pecans 1 ounce 5,095
Sweet Cherries 1 cup 4,873
Black plums One 4,844
Russet potatoes (cooked) One 4,649
Black dried beans Half Cup 4,181
Plums One 4,118
Gala apples One 3,903
The Antioxidant Superstars!
With the evolution of technology, researchers are able to measure the levels of antioxidants in specific foods, helping us to identify the star players. Digestion, absorption and methods of cooling play a role in the amount of antioxidants in foods. The above chart gives you the top twenty sources of antioxidants. So let's learn about the phytonutrients responsible for these free radical fighting actions.
Phytonutrient Fuel: A clean pass
Much of the good press antioxidants get is due to tiny compounds called phytonutrients found inside fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains. These phytonutrients (phyto meaning plant) protect plants against harsh weather conditions and hungry insects; they can even heal wounds made by the nibbling moth. With their own defensive lineup, plant foods stand ready to guard against hungry predators, trying to take a bite, or fungi that hang around draining their resources.
This plant protection system essentially antioxidants and phytonutrients not only serves as defense but is also credited for the vibrant colors and delicious flavors of our food. Interestingly, distinguishing colors is a trait common only to humans and a few species of primates. So the foods most appealing to our eye are also most appealing to our body to prevent and treat diseases.
It should come to no surprise that fruits and vegetables with higher levels of antioxidants produces fresher food for longer periods of time (or shelf life) with less risk of mold. These foods are better equipped to preserve and protect themselves; and when we take a bite, those antioxidants and phytonutrients are passed along to us.
Unfortunately, the development of agriculture some ten thousand years ago caused a shift away from our diverse plant based diet that provides a spectrum of essential vitamins and minerals, and tens of thousands of protective phytonutrients. Replacing this delicious and defensive diet with processed foods, refined grains, and added oils, sugar and salt has led to the rise of chronic disease including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, and possibly the rising rates of infertility. In fact, today most American's eat between two and three servings of fruits and vegetables per day (when optimum is seven to nine servings), and a minority eat none at all.
Advances in technology have allowed us to further explore compounds in foods on a molecular level, distinguishing between the thousands of plant nutrients in individual foods and food families. This "new nutritional frontier" provides us with critical information on how best we can use foods to balance blood sugar, prevent inflammation, and achieve optimum health in preparation for pregnancy. It is estimated that 25 thousand individual phytonutrients have been identified in fruits, vegetables, and grains; a large percentage still remain unknown and need to be identified before we can fully understand their health benefits.
Are you ready to move on to "The Line UP" of Chapter 4! Basically this is The Vitamin and Mineral team players of our diets...