If you pay attention to matters of heath and aging, you’ve no doubt heard the term “free radicals,” which are unstable molecules that travel around in the body looking to bond with stable molecules in order to steal an electron and stabilize themselves. When they are successful, they create new unstable molecules. These molecules contribute to cancer and other diseases.
Since free radicals are produced during normal metabolic, cellular, and immune system activity, as well as external factors such as strenuous exercise, a poor diet, stress, pollution, and even sunlight, they are essentially unavoidable.
The good news is that nature provides a very powerful weapon against this degenerative process in the form of antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize the effect of free radicals and help protect the heart, brain, and other organs from oxidative stress.
Antioxidants Provide Huge Health and Longevity Benefits for Pets
Antioxidants gobble up the toxic free radicals in your pet’s body before they can harm healthy cells and tissue, thereby reducing oxidative stress that leads to DNA damage. Antioxidants play a key role in longevity, and high levels of antioxidants are commonly seen in the “oldest old” among us. Several studies of older dogs have proved the benefits of an antioxidant-rich diet for the aging canine brain.
The results of a seven-year study of 90 kitties ages 7-17 who were fed an antioxidant-rich diet showed fewer decreases in lean muscle mass; improved body weight, lean body mass, skin thickness and red cell quality; decreased incidence of disease; general improvement in quality of life; and significantly longer lifespan! The same is true for dogs.
Most commercially available pet foods contain synthetic vitamins and minerals that provide minimal nutrition, not optimum nutrition. AAFCO recommendations may sustain life, but do not nourish animals the way nature intended. Your dog or cat’s body is designed to absorb nutrients from fresh, living foods very efficiently. Antioxidants are contained in the vitamins in fresh foods, including:
- Vitamin A and carotenoids, which are found in bright colored fruits and veggies like apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, peaches, squash, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes
- Vitamin C, found in citrus fruits and strawberries, as well as green peppers, broccoli, and green leafy veggies
- Vitamin E, found in nuts, seeds, and whole grains
- Selenium, found in protein sources like fish, chicken, beef, and eggs
Phytochemicals also contain antioxidant properties:
- Flavonoids/polyphenols are in cranberries and tea
- Lycopene is in tomatoes and watermelon
- Lutein sources are dark green vegetables like spinach, broccoli and kale
- Lignan is found in flax seed and certain other grains
It’s very important to work with a holistic veterinarian or other knowledgeable source when it comes to adding antioxidants to your pet’s diet. Providing the right balance will improve your pet’s quality and longevity of life! For more, please visit Dr. Karen Becker’s article.