By Uma Sivanathan

World-renowned scientists, researchers and anti-aging experts agree an abundance of antioxidants in our bodies promote a longer, healthier life. Antioxidants play a huge role in preventing degenerative diseases, slowing down the aging process and increasing longevity.

Antioxidants are natural chemicals produced by our bodies, and are also obtained from our food. They act as part of our bodies’ defense system, protecting our cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are highly unstable and reactive oxygen containing molecules.

We obtain our energy by combining digested food with oxygen from the air we breathe. This metabolic process naturally generates free radicals. We also get free radicals from other sources, such as smoking cigarettes, toxins in our air, food and water, plus natural and artificial radiation. Excessive free radicals cause oxidative stress, which is an imbalance between free radicals circulating in the blood stream and the body’s ability to detoxify their harmful effects.

Oxidative stress leads to many conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancer, atherosclerosis, heart attacks, diabetes, and eye diseases. Once disease sets in, the body increases the production of free radicals to heal itself. More antioxidants are then needed in order to become well again.

Free radicals have one or more unpaired electrons. They steal electrons from nearby molecules to achieve stability. This creates more unstable molecules that can cause a domino-like chain reaction, altering the cell’s structure or function, changing the instructions coded in a DNA strand, making LDL (bad cholesterol) molecules get trapped in artery walls and impeding the flow of what enters and exits the cells’ membrane.

Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and clean them out of our blood stream before they can do damage. They work by donating electrons to free radicals without turning into electron scavenging substances themselves.

There is much evidence that eating a diet abundant in fruits, vegetables and whole grains provides a network of anti-oxidants. Antioxidants have unique properties that when combined together form a nutrient-rich orchestra, providing great health benefits. That is why it is highly recommended that we get antioxidants from food sources instead of from supplements. If you feel the need of supplementation, Dr. Group of the Global Healing Center recommends IntraMax, a 100 percent organic liquid multi-vitamin and MegaHydrate, a powerful antioxidant combination.

Colorful fruits and vegetables have the most antioxidants. Blueberries, blackberries and cranberries rank the highest among the fruits studied by the USDA. Beans, artichokes, russet potatoes, peas and corn are the top among vegetables.

Other antioxidant containing fruits include: papayas, mangoes, kiwi, passion fruit, mangosteen, watermelon, apples, strawberries, oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, pink grapefruit, cantaloupe, peaches, plums, prunes, grapes, and apricots.

Green leafy veggies that contain lutein are great for maintaining eye health. These include spinach, kale, collards, parsley, cabbage, brussel sprouts and broccoli. The yellow, orange and red pigments in vegetables and fruits are turned into retinal by the body and help us see better, also. These include tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, beets and red bell peppers.

Nuts and seeds, particularly walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds are high in antioxidants as well as dried black beans, pinto beans and red kidney beans. The antioxidant selenium helps with thyroid function and is found in grains, onions, garlic, nuts, and soybeans.

Uma Sivanathan

The daily recommendation is at least five servings of fruits and vegetables, preferably organically and locally grown. Growing your own food and supporting our farmers by shopping at famer’s markets is the best way to get the freshest, nutrient dense produce.

Smoothies are a great way to start the day off. Our favorite recipe contains papaya or mango, bananas, cacao powder (antioxidant and super food) from Hoku Foods Natural Market, frozen blueberries and strawberries from Cosco, and coconut water. Add any of your own favorite ingredients. Using a good blender such as the Magic Bullet or VitaMix (sold at Costco) is key.

I close with Dr. Andrew Weil’s inspiring words, “The good news is that with strong antioxidant defenses, long life without diseases should be possible.” The human body is magnificently designed to repair itself and be healthy and vibrant, as long as it is given the proper fuel and nutrition that it needs.

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  • Uma Sivanathan is the founder and president of Mana‘olana Center for Health and Healing. Visit and contact her at