A stroll down any aisle of any health food store will likely reveal a number of foods and supplements boasting their antioxidant content. Antioxidants have been the darlings of the health food industry for some time. But what are they, and how do they fit in the framework of the Phase One Diet?
Antioxidants are chemicals that prevent oxidation. Oxidation––a process that occurs when a substance is exposed to oxygen––can create what are known as free radicals, chemicals that are highly reactive. This has implications for the health of our cells; when our cells become damaged by oxidation, it can ostensibly lead to disease and premature aging. Oxidation and oxidative stress have been linked to diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and many others. The thinking goes that consuming antioxidants will help prevent the effects of oxidative stress, and in some cases, even reverse it.
There are thousands of antioxidants, but the most common are vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, lycopene and beta carotene. These are naturally occurring in foods––many of the foods considered to be healthy. Berries, nuts, greens, garlic, certain meats, flax and certain vegetables are all high in anti-oxidants.
How does this fit into the Phase One and Two Diet? On the Phase One Diet, you are getting rid of grains, sugar, corn starch, peanuts, pistachios, breads, most heavily processed food and alcohol in favor of lean, clean meats, vegetables, certain fruits, seeds, nuts and healthy oils. Most of the food on the Phase One Diet is the kind of food known to be rich in antioxidants in the first place! Furthermore, many compounds exhibiting antioxidant ability also exhibit anti-fungal abilities, making antioxidants especially useful for Phase One Diet adherents.
Research has shown that the best way to get antioxidants is via the inclusion of antioxidant rich foods.
One thing to keep in mind is that because antioxidants are popular, many foods containing any sort of antioxidant activity or that are fortified with antioxidants are often marketed as being healthy. While antioxidants may provide benefits for health, that doesn’t mean any food containing them will be fit for the Phase One Diet. Take red wine, for example; red wine is rich in the antioxidant called rezveratrol. While rezveratrol may have been shown to provide health benefits, consuming red wine is not ever encouraged on the Phase One or Two Diet. This is because it contains a commonly known (and consumed) mycotoxin known as alcohol. Other products that are fortified with antioxidants can be high in sugar or may contain other ingredients not encouraged on Phase One, including grains, corn or peanuts.
Reading labels is key when determining whether a food is fit for the Phase One or Two Diet; just because one healthy component is included, it doesn’t mean all ingredients are fit for your diet. The best way to get antioxidants in your diet is via whole, unprocessed foods.