Prevention is pretty much my motivation for staying healthy. Ever since the health problems I was having last year started going away, shortly after I began eating a high-raw diet, I'm now convinced that nutrients and antioxidants are responsible. Now that my health is a greater concern for me than ever before (I do NOT want that pain to come back), I'm trying earnestly to incorporate as many nutrient dense foods as possible. In my quest for healthy drinks, I came across matcha.
Matcha is said to rate at 1300 units per gram by the ORAC rating, where other "superfoods" like blueberries only score 91 units, and pomegranates 105! Not to discount the health properties of blueberries or pomegranates, but matcha is serious business when it comes to free radical ass-kicking!
If you don't know about matcha, it's basically powdered green tea. It's bright green in color, and creates a true "green" tea! It's super healthy for all the same reasons as traditional green tea, but it's super potent because it's powdered. So instead of just steeping the green tea leaves in water for a few minutes and removing them from the drink, you mix the powder with the water so you are actually consuming the entire leaf. One glass of matcha is supposedly equivalent to 10 glasses of green tea, as far as nutrition and antioxidants are concerned.
Antioxidant content is measured by ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) units. An ORAC unit is essentially the antioxidant ability to absorb and neutralize free-radicals. Free radicals are what we get when we introduce pollution into our bodies (via environmental pollution, chemically laden foods, pesticides, etc.). When pollution is introduced, harmful free radical molecules are released into our system. These free radicals are unstable molecules lacking one or more electrons. With an unpaired electron, the molecule starts bouncing around our system to seek out a new electron or another molecule to bond with in order to create balance. We call them "free" because they travel around, freely, until they bond and become stable. Only, we don't have extra electrons just floating around, so it has to steal an electron from a healthy molecule. That ends up creating a chain reaction, because the next molecule in line is now a free radical, and so on. If this chain reaction is left unchecked, the free radicals can begin to harm healthy cells.
That's where antioxidants, and things like matcha, come into play. Antioxidants are what keep the free radicals in check. They do this by either providing the lacking electron, thereby stabilizing the radical, or by breaking it down entirely and rendering it harmless.
According to this article,
"Research has shown that antioxidants can have an important impact on serious diseases. In one recent study, the addition of a polyphenol-rich blueberry gel to the diet of oral cancer patients prevented recurrence of the cancer. Another experiment demonstrated that increased levels of selenium in the diets of a group of HIV-positive patients significantly delayed progression of the disease."
If that's to be believed, then it's possible that with an antioxidant rich diet, we may be able to stave off illness and disease! That's pretty incredible. I realize every body is different, but free radicals are free radicals, and antioxidants are antioxidants...no matter who you are. I'm in no way trying to insinuate that antioxidants will cure cancer or anything, but it seems science is showing that they can, at least, aid in prevention.
Do you have any fun ways to prevent illness, a favorite antioxidant powerhouse, or a new way for me to enjoy matcha? Please share!