You know what sucks about having a body?
The fact that sometimes it doesn’t feel so hot.
For me, it has been a situation so severe that at one point, I could barely walk without assistance, and was unable to participate in the daily joys of life at all. My body was riddled with inflammation, everything hurt, and my memory had started accumulating blank spaces at an alarming rate.
Over the past 3 years, I’ve been doing a lot of—some might say—aggressive methods of addressing it. All of these have helped in some way, and of course led me to a place where life is pretty awesome actually.
Well, last year, I had started a regimen to reduce the inflammation, and calm the body down so it could do some real healing. I started off every morning with 6oz of berries on a bed of baby greens and a squeeze of lime.
And you know what happened after I ate it?
I got sleepy.
Not the kind of carb-induced, foggy brain, exhaustion sleepy. No. This was different. This was the I need to snuggle down and go to sleep right now kind of sleepy.
This happened every single day within 20 minutes of eating this breakfast for almost 3 months. So, you know what I’d do? I’d snuggle down and sleep because that was exactly what my body needed me to do.
One day I was chatting with my friend who has a background in microbiology. I told him that the berries made me sleepy.
He laughed and said, “No they don’t.”
“Yes, they do,” I argued.
“It’s not the berries that make you sleepy. It’s what they’re doing,” he said.
“Do you know what an antioxidant is?” he asked.
“Of course I do. It’s good for the body.”
He laughed. “You don’t know what an antioxidant is. Most people don’t. They only think they know what it is.”
And he was right.
I didn’t really know what an antioxidant was.
So, I decided to find out.
The Story of Antioxidants and Why We Need Them
The human body is made up of billions of cells. There are cells that collectively make up every organ, every tissue, every muscle, every bit of what makes up the human body and its various components.
This is a large part of what determines the quality of a human body (skin, hair, muscles, fat, hormone balance, weight, energy-yes energy).
Assuming this is true (and it is), what happens when cells are damaged?
Well, that depends.
Turns out that cells are damaged all the time. They fulfill whatever purpose they are supposed to, they wear out, and they are replaced by new cells.
This process occurs every day with every body.
The problem is that in our modern way of life, cells get damaged far more frequently that they should.
Stress, fried foods, sugar, cigarette smoke, alcohol, drugs, toxins from the environment, pesticides, hydrogenated oils, chemicals in foods, chemicals in cosmetics, chemicals in our water supply, inadequate sleep, etc. can damage cells, turning them into something called a free radical.
What’s a FREE RADICAL?
Here’s a short video that explains it succinctly. I strongly recommend that you watch it to 2:40, and then keep reading. The rest of the video is useful too, but it’s not essential to reading the rest of this post. It’s only 5 minutes in total anyway.
Cells have to be balanced to do their job right. And every cell has a balanced equal number of electrons. This is part of the foundation of a healthy cell.
However, when a cell is bombarded with UV rays, or cigarette smoke (or any of the other damaging things mentioned above), these occurrences can damage those fragile electrons—basically knocking out one of them, thereby creating an unbalanced cell.
This cell then becomes a free radical, and will make an effort to balance itself by scavenging off of a neighboring normal cell. It does this by stealing one of its electrons. Unfortunately, this is not effective for the free radical nor the other cell, and even worse, the neighboring cell now becomes a free radical too, and so, the cycle continues.
What is an Antioxidant?
Antioxidants, simply put, are molecules that prevent or protect the oxidization of other molecules.
For example, vitamin C is an antioxidant. Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C. If you cut an avocado and leave it alone, it will brown from oxidization. However, if you squeeze some lemon on it, it will stay green and bright. This is the primary reason why you’ll find lemon or lime juice as an ingredient in guacamole (I bet you thought it was just to make it tastier). Its antioxidant properties neutralized the oxidization. See?
Vitamin C, D, and E are common antioxidants. But there are plenty of others out there too.
So, how does this effect the body?
Antioxidants (as explained in the video above) have an abundance of electrons and they go through the body repairing cellular damage by giving their electrons to free radicals they find and restoring balance within the body. They also protect and prevent cells from oxidization.
As you have probably surmised, the goal to work toward is BALANCE.
This is accomplished two-fold:
Get more antioxidants in your life.
Do less of what damages cells and creates an excess of free radicals.
I know it sounds abysmal that there are so many things that cause free radicals, but don’t worry. Nature is awesome, and antioxidants are also ABUNDANT.
In fact, the most powerful antioxidant is not only abundant, it’s free.
It’s outside, right under your feet, known as the Earth.
But there is a catch. You need to take off your shoes and socks to enjoy it. It’s called Earthing or Grounding, and it is absolutely brilliant at reducing inflammation, reducing stress, balancing the body and more.
In fact, just 30 minutes a day of walking barefoot on the grass or better yet, a beach has been shown to greatly reduce depression.
Turns out the Earth is loaded with negative ions that flood the body, reducing inflammation, balancing free radicals, calming the system and reducing stress.
There are more advantages to Earthing that are actually life changing. I’ll cover those in depth in a separate post. But for now, back to antioxidants…
Eating food rich in antioxidants is key!
Which leads me back to my story of berries and breakfast. So, what was making me sleepy?
As my friend put it, “Your body has billions of cells, and those antioxidants you just ate are busy scrubbing and polishing all those damaged cells, and that takes energy and resources.”
And he was right.
My body was HEALING in a way that I can hardly explain, and it made me sleepy, but it was beautiful and necessary. I rarely get sleepy after eating berries now. The major work is done, so it’s just a lot of daily repair and balance.
Getting antioxidants is easy. You don’t need a gimmick or supplement.
Just follow these simple steps each day.
10 Ways to Get Antioxidants NATURALLY
Eat fresh fruit.
Berries are awesome, so are grapes, citrus fruits, pineapple, melons and mango.
Especially greens. There are so many reasons this is a good idea, it’s hard to just give one, but a large salad a day will do wonders for your health. Trust me.
Walk the Earth barefoot every day.
Go ahead and take those shoes off, and run free. If you have a beach, the sand and ocean are ridiculously health giving. There’s more than the scent of the salty sea and the feel of the sand that causes that yummy feeling.
Get a little bit of sunlight every day.
Just 10-15 minutes a day is an amazing way to get vitamin D naturally. The best times are before 10am and after 4pm to avoid damaging UV rays.
Get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep deprivation is not awesome. Good sleep allows the body time to heal and recover and is essential for a long, and healthy life.
Juice fresh fruits and vegetables.
Every now and then the body can use a good boost. Juicing is a great way to get a lot of antioxidants and nutrients.
Use herbs and spices in your food prep.
You probably instinctively knew this was good for you, but seriously, it is. Oregano, basil, cilantro, turmeric, ginger, clove, mint, and yes, even cocoa all are rich in antioxidants.
Eat some beans, nuts and seeds.
All of these contain antioxidants. In fact, red kidney beans have some of the most antioxidants in them. And did you know that walnuts also top the list?
Yep. But you already knew that, didn’t you?
Drink green tea or infused waters.
Turns out green tea is loaded with antioxidants, but stick with organic. And about the infused water, this is not the infused water you buy at the store, either. It’s way better to make your own with fresh water, berries, fruit, or cucumber, lemon/lime and mint. This way you hydrate those hard working cells and get your antioxidants too!
So, there you have it. One of THE most major components I used in this process to heal my body naturally. The other added bonus is that all these antioxidants are naturally anti-aging.
How awesome is that?
And since we just celebrated Independence Day, I thought I’d share this awesome watermelon cake I made from scratch with watermelon, pear, bananas, berries and love.
It was a huge success with the kids and adults alike, and hit the spot after spending the day outside in the Florida heat. And just think of all those awesome antioxidants!
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Don’t miss a single post!
Subscribe to the 365 Days of Awesome Blog and get notified when there’s a new bit of awesome added. —-> Look for the subscribe form on the right. It’s as easy as that!