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Antioxidants Aren’t As Good For You as You Might Believe

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There is a lot of information out there on how you can improve your health.  Sometimes it’s not always good advice.  Some people think that if you eliminate gluten from your diet you will automatically become healthier.  In some cases, it does, but usually only when that person has celiac disease. We could all benefit from eating fewer carbs, and when we do eat them to eat better ones, but that doesn’t mean you have to eliminate gluten or wheat from your diet completely.  Another way that people think they improve their health is by consuming a lot of antioxidants.  They assume that if they do this, they will suddenly look and feel younger.  But that’s not exactly the case.

A study was recently published that claimed mushrooms can help fight aging.  The researchers with this study weren’t asking people to eat mushrooms, but rather they were studying the antioxidant molecule found in mushrooms.  Researchers measured the levels of two molecules – glutathione and ergothioneine and found that certain mushrooms had more of these molecules than others.  Further, there wasn’t a clinical trial done – meaning people weren’t used as part of this testing process.  They merely did a chemical analysis.

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Because glutathione and ergothioneine fall into the class of antioxidant molecules news outlets were eager to say that mushrooms were the key to anti-aging.  Antioxidants aren’t exactly the thing we should be focused on.   First of all – do we know what they are? Antioxidants are compounds in food that stop or delay damage to the cells.  They are naturally found in many foods – especially plants.  They help ward off cell damage by cleaning up or removing waste products in your cells, known as free radicals before they can do us any harm.

Where am I going with this?  To start – this test that suggests that mushrooms will help you slow down your aging process, isn’t exactly accurate.  No food will actually do that.  The only way to stop aging is to die.  Which is counterproductive, so try not to do that.  What antioxidants will do, however, is help keep your body running properly.  We live in a time where so much of our food is processed.  So perhaps people do need more antioxidants in order to maintain your health.  That said, there’s no conclusive evidence that antioxidants will prevent heart disease, strokes or even cancer.

That’s not to say that people haven’t benefitted from these things in their diet when dealing with a particular disease or illness.  But overall, the conclusion can’t be drawn that antioxidants will automatically defeat your cancer.  What we should be doing is focusing on balancing our diets with lots of fruits and vegetables.  We see miracle cure advice pop up in our newsfeeds daily, but there is no better medicine than a balanced diet that’s low on bad things (bad fat, sugar etc.) and high on the good things (fruit, vegetables).  Don’t get sucked into the trap that blueberries are going to cure whatever illness you are dealing with.  Eat blueberries because they make you feel good and make them part of your balanced diet.

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