How can you strengthen your immune system to stay healthy and fight premature aging? Yes, eat a diet rich in antioxidants. Fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants and this raw, vegan and gluten-free Mixed Berry Smoothie is a delicious way to power up and stay healthy.
What are antioxidants and how do they keep us healthy? An antioxidant is a substance that reduces damage due to a chemical interaction with oxygen, such as those caused by free radicals (think of an apple slice browning when exposed to oxygen but inside your body). Commonly known antioxidants are enzymes found in raw foods, vitamin C and E, and beta-carotene, all of which are capable of counteracting the damaging effects of free radical oxidation.
What are free radicals? Our body is composed of cells that are composed of many different types of molecules. Molecules consist of one or more atoms of one or more elements joined by chemical bonds. Free radicals are very unstable molecules that are formed when molecules are linked by weak bonds missing an electron. Free radicals attack the nearest stable molecule, "stealing" its electron. When the "attacked" molecule loses its electron, it becomes a free radical itself, beginning a chain reaction. Once the process is started, it can cascade, finally resulting in the disruption of a living cell.
Some free radicals arise normally during metabolism. Sometimes the immune system purposefully creates them to neutralize viruses and bacteria. However, environmental factors such as a diet high in processed foods, pollution, radiation, smoke and herbicides can also create excess free radicals.
Normally, the body can handle free radicals, but if antioxidants are unavailable, or if the free-radical production becomes excessive, damage can occur. Of particular importance is that free radical damage accumulates with age. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals by donating one of their own electrons, ending the electron-"stealing" reaction. The antioxidant nutrients themselves don’t become free radicals by donating an electron because they are stable in either form. They act as scavengers, helping to prevent cell and tissue damage that could lead to cellular damage and disease.
Feed Your Body Royally! Eat more plants with this raw, vegan and gluten-free antioxidant Mixed Berry Smoothie. Fresh berries and pomegranates are high in antioxidants and the almond butter and flaxseed meal supply much needed healthy fats for the absorption of the fat soluble antioxidants, vitamin A and E.
Mixed Berry Smoothie
2 cups frozen mixed berries (strawberry, blueberry, blackberry)
1-tablespoon raw almond butter
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves (optional)
Mix together all ingredients in blender and add water to desired consistency. Serves 2.