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Growing old happens day by day with changes occurring gradually over time. Our society uses the arbitrary age of 65 years to define the transition point between middle age and old age. U.S. and Japan population is growing older, so does Malaysia. The future trend of senior citizens in Malaysia will achieve 9.9% of total population at 2020 compared to 1990 with 5.9%. Our main concern is how we stay young beyond the risk of aging.
There are many factors can contribute to aging process and some factors even further accelerate the progression. The everyday stresses influence physical and psychological aging to threat a person's well-being. Anyone at any age can have a drinking problem but how the body handles alcohol can change with age. Alcohol abuse can lead to some kinds of cancer, liver damage and reduced immunity. Drinking too much of alcohol can worsen some health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and osteoporosis. Moreover, polypharmacy (PP) or over-the counter (OTC) supplements is the most common drug abuse among middle age and old age. They use multiple supplements or medicine without prescription by physician. It might not be helpful to solve the health problems and adversely, it might burden the body to handle dozen of drugs. Also, it leads to drug-nutrient interactions that can alter digestion, absorption and metabolism of either the drug or nutrients. In another hands, pain and aged-related diseases can further accelerate the aging process.
HOW DOES AGING PROGRESS?
Aging contribute to dramatic changes to the physical appearance which we are really afraid of. Reduced blood flow to skin result in skin becomes more easily damaged and repairs more slowly. Elastic fibers of skin loss of its flexibility lead to sagging and wrinkled. White or gray hair grows. More terrifying, age spots are developed on hands and face. As aging progresses, inevitable changes in body organs contribute to the body's declining function. In the changes of body composition, older adult tends to lose bone and muscle and gain more body fat. Moreover, hormones that regulate appetite and metabolism become less active that may lead to low food intake and malnutrition. Changes in immune system also bring declining function with age make us be more vulnerable to infection or illness. Gastrointestinal tract slowly loses of its strength and elasticity with age may progress to inflamed stomach, bacterial overgrowth and constipation. In addition to physiological changes that accompany aging, psychological changes such as depression, reduced vision ability and inconvenient to travel play big roles contribute to aging progression.
WHAT IS OXIDANT?
Oxidant is a substance that acts or is used as an oxidizing agent. In another word, oxidant is the agent to cause oxidation. Internal source of oxidant include free radicals formed from by-products of metabolic processes. Free radicals are atoms or molecules with unpaired electrons. They are highly reactive and unstable. They are likely to attack protein, fat and DNA in our bodies. When fats in the body attacked by oxidants, the end result would be lipid peroxidation. This is critically harmful as LDL cholesterol oxidized can adhere to the arterial walls to form a plaque. This is the starting development of atherosclerosis. Nevertheless, our fragile brain neurons are vulnerable to oxidative damage which it may cause cognitive impairments and commonly seen among elderly with Alzheimer's disease. External sources of oxidant are also available from ultraviolet light and electrical gadget. Oxidants from tobacco, smoke and radiation can also damage cells.
Our body usually copes well with low levels of oxidant. When there is too much of it, the damage accumulates and creates health problems. But, it is very difficult to determine that oxidant is significantly to cause or effect of the progress of diseases or aging. From another angle of view, reducing and removing oxidants indeed to help in prevention or slow down the progression of disease or aging. This is where antioxidant may do you a big favour.
WHAT IS ANTIOXIDANT?
Antioxidants are molecules that can trap oxidant. Antioxidants prevent oxidation by offering themselves to be oxidized instead. In another word, antioxidant is scarified in an oxidation process to prevent our cell to be attacked and damaged. Antioxidants act as free-radical scavenger and thus inhibiting oxidative mechanisms that lead to degenerative diseases and aging.
WHERE IS ANTIOXIDANT FROM?
Antioxidants can exist in the form of vitamins from our diet such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Vitamin A is an antioxidant that may protect cells against effect of oxidants and also play important role in vision, cell functions and reproduction. Plant source of Vitamin A include varied colour of fruits and vegetables such as carrot, tomato and spinach. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant to prevent oxidative damage and it is important for skin, bones and connective tissue. Citrus fruits, red and green peppers, broccoli are with good sources of Vitamin C. Vitamin E also known as tocopherol can cope the oxidants from metabolic processes and environmental exposure. Good sources of vitamin E are vegetables oil, nuts and seeds. Vegetable cooking oil enriched with Vitamin E or tocopherol is a good way to prevent oil oxidation while providing health-promoting antioxidant to us.
Phytochemicals that impart tastes, aromas, colours and flavour are sources of antioxidant as well. In examples of antioxidants, burning sensation of hot pepper, pungent flavour of garlic and dark red colour of tomato. The antioxidants profound physiological effects can act as inhibitor of oxidant, suppress development of diseases and slowing the aging process.
ANTIOXIDANTS AND ANTI-AGING
There is numerous of researches to study the antioxidants and their health-improving effects. Many fruits and vegetables are studied and proven with high antioxidant properties. They are significantly helpful in prevention of chronic diseases and delay of aging progression.
Flavonoids is group of phytochemicals with heart promoting benefits. It is a powerful antioxidants found in wholegrains, legumes, fruits, herbs, spices, teas and chocolate. It was proven flavonoids can help in protecting LDL cholesterol against oxidation, reducing blood platelet stickiness and thus lowering risk of chronic diseases.
Catechins found in black tea, green tea and chocolate is a potent antioxidant to slow down aging process. Studies showed that it helps in cancer prevention as well. Isoflavones and phytoestrogens in soybean are beneficial for tumour growth inhibition and blood cholesterol lowering. Another remarkable antioxidant from grape and wine is resveratrol which is proved heart-hearty with its ability of limiting clot formation and inflammation. Anthocyanins found in black grape, berries and red cabbage is excellent antioxidants to provide protection of vision, improvement of memory and various free radical scavenging activities.
Some antioxidants are fragile and easily destroyed by light, heat, acid or over-cooking. Raw fruits and vegetables are the perfect sources for most of the antioxidants. In another hand, lycopene from tomato after processing or cooking surprisingly enhance its bioavailability. Natural extract of antioxidants is a good sources boost up our diet to reduce the damage from internal or external oxidants.
DO ANTIOXIDANT SUPPLEMENTS HELP?
Another question arises: do antioxidant supplements help? Various clinical studies have showed rather disappointing effects of antioxidant supplements. The initiation and progression of plaque involves a series of oxidation reactions. Researches studies the fat-soluble antioxidants such as Vitamin A and E could stop the oxidative reaction to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and heart diseases. Unfortunately, more than a decade studies showed vitamin E supplements may have a small effect in prevention of heart attack.
In another hand, antioxidant supplements had the same disappointing result in preventing neural degradation and cancers. There is low response on antioxidant supplements can provide barrier against Alzheimer's disease and many types of cancers. According to a report published in Annals of Oncology in July 2009, it is found that antioxidant supplements were showed to have no preventive effect on cancer.
SLOWING DOWN AGING
Therefore, intake of natural antioxidants sources is still the best to combat the deterioration of oxidants. Eating variety, balance and adequate diet are important in preventing complications of aging. Adequate sleeping and rest, maintaining a healthy body weight and engaging in physical activity regularly can also effectively in slowing down aging process.
Blueberry BBQ Sauce
This is an exceptionally easy condiment. It is a perfect summer barbecue sauce instead of heavily salted and sweetened gravy. Not only great on salad, it is smart choices on grilled salmon or chicken.
2 ½ cups fresh blueberries
1 medium garlic, minced
½ cup red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoon lime juice
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cups sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
Place blueberry, sugar, vinegar, ginger, lime juice, salt and pepper in a fried-pan over medium-high heat.
Stir until the sugar dissolves about 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium-low and stirring occasionally until the blueberries have mostly broken down and the sauce has thickened.
Then, spoon into glass jars and refrigerate until chilled and thickened about 4 hours.
Serve as topping on salad or meat.