At a glance
Antioxidants: Fighting free radicals inside and out.
The last 365 days have been anything but normal. Many of us have been hunkered down in the confines of our homes with routines we never could have imagined before the world got turned upside-down.
Living rooms have turned into make-shift home offices, while video calls became the new normal. Social gatherings are still reduced to limited amounts of people, and public spaces such as restaurants and supermarkets continue to abide by strict protocols. Many of us have carefully followed these guidelines in hopes of retuning to normalcy sooner rather than later.
By now, we’ve adapted our lifestyles to fit into the current landscape of the world. Although we are much more acclimated to this unconventional way of life, we must continue to prioritize self-care throughout 2021. Like last year, it is vitally important we continue to support our physical and mental health with the right nutrients.
With that in mind, here’s a fresh list of 5 important areas in your body to support as you continue to navigate through 2021.
Antioxidants are a key component of healthy aging because they defend our bodies from free radicals. Without antioxidant defense, our cells and tissue become exposed to oxidative stress caused by those pesky rogue molecules. The continued stress on our cells and tissue can wrinkle our skin, sap our energy, and even lead to joint, vision, brain, and heart concerns. This is why it is important to defend your body with plenty of antioxidants!
Even in lockdown, our bodies are exposed to free radicals. These unhealthy molecules are produced by pollution, physical and emotional stress, poor diet, lack of exercise, and more.
So, how do we combat the harmful effects of free radicals? For starters, getting enough exercise and reducing stress may help, along with enhancing your diet with astaxanthin — a super-antioxidant that outperforms Vitamin C, CoQ10, and other antioxidants when it comes to quenching singlet oxygen molecules.
Considered the “king of carotenoids,” astaxanthin gives off a vibrant red-pinkish hue to a variety of marine life. It even helps salmon become powerful swimmers by giving the fish the energy they need to swim upstream.
However, astaxanthin delivers benefits that go beyond the sea as well. Astaxanthin is known for its powerful antioxidant activity. In fact, its boosts an antioxidant activity 10 times more powerful than that of other carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. What’s more, astaxanthin is a staggering 6,000 times more powerful than Vitamin C when it comes to quenching the oxidative activity of free radicals.
When available, wild-caught salmon at your local supermarket is a good source of astaxanthin. Other natural sources of astaxanthin include trout, krill, shrimp, and crayfish. The phytonutrients found in colorful foods such as fruits and vegetables have antioxidants as well. Phytonutrients help plants stay healthy, but they also provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to humans as well.
Although the lockdown has allowed most of us to spend more time at home than we were previously accustomed to, this doesn’t mean a good night’s sleep is easier to achieve. The Sleep Foundation cites quick, unprecedented changes as some reasons why the importance of sleep has flown under the radar. The lockdown has not solved those sleep-related concerns and has even created new challenges for people who previously did not have trouble sleeping.
Social distancing, school closings, and working from home have all brought changes to our lives, including our sleep schedules. The sudden change in our daily routines have all played a role in our when we go to sleep and when we wake up, altering our circadian rhythms.
That’s right — something as simple as a change in daily routine can alter your circadian rhythm. Since we’re stuck at home, we experience lower levels of natural light than usual. This may reduce our exposure to environmental cues that signal to us when it is time to wake in the morning and sleep in the evening.
When properly aligned, a healthy circadian rhythm helps promote deep, restorative sleep. However, a disrupted circadian rhythm may lead to all kinds of sleep trouble. This is why it is important to prioritize sleep health — even when you spend more time in the comfort of your home!
One of the top supplements to support your sleep health is melatonin. Nicknamed the “sleep hormone”, melatonin is naturally produced in the body by the pineal gland. However, natural production of this hormone declines as we age, which is why over $1.5 billion will be spent on Melatonin products in the next year worldwide. As a matter of fact, Americans alone spent hundreds of millions of dollars on melatonin supplements in 2020.
Melatonin helps signal your body that it’s time to sleep and promotes sleep anticipation in the brain. It is used by millions, but most of melatonin products are made with synthetic melatonin and processed with harsh chemicals. Instead, look for PhytoMelatonin — the plant-based melatonin produced without the use of synthetic materials. This wild-crafted melatonin is more in line with the hormone produced by our bodies, an advantage over its lab-made synthetic counterpart.
Let’s face it: the past year has been stressful. Many of us were forced to deviate from our daily routines and needed to find new ways to carry out our responsibilities on the fly. These sudden changes may still stress you out, but there are ways to manage it.
A study published in Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine suggests that adaptogens help combat stress. One such adaptogen highlighted in the study is Ashwagandha — an ancient herb renowned for its stress-busting effects.
The aforementioned study enrolled 64 subjects with a history of chronic stress. The participants were selected at random to receive either 300 mg of high-concentration full-spectrum extract from the root of the Ashwagandha plant or a placebo. From there, a series of stress-related assessments were administered.
The subjects given Ashwagandha saw “significant reduction in scores on all the stress-assessment scales” over the placebo group. Furthermore, serum cortisol levels — the body’s “flight or fight” hormone — were “substantially reduced” in subjects that were given Ashwagandha, as compared to the placebo group.
The adaptogenic properties of Ashwagandha fared well in this particular test. The study communicated this message in its closing remarks: “The findings of this study suggest that a high-concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract safely and effectively improves an individual's resistance towards stress and thereby improves self-assessed quality of life.”
There are other ways to manage stress as well. According to the CDC, a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, and breaks throughout the day are all healthy ways to cope with stress.
During the past year, we’ve all been forced to avoid social gatherings in private homes and public settings in hopes that doing so will all us to return to normalcy sooner rather than later. While this unconventional way of life continues to be the perfect opportunity to take a break from normal business attire, daily grooming rituals, and perhaps grow our hair out, this doesn’t mean we should stop supporting our bodies from the inside out — especially when it comes to the health of our skin!
There are multiple ways to support your skin during the lockdown. One such way to reduce wrinkles and keep your skin hydrated is collagen. Our bodies naturally produce collagen, but this production declines with age. That’s why we must seek outside sources of collagen to keep our skin hydrated, plump, firm, and elastic.
In 2013, a double-blind placebo-controlled study set out to determine the beneficial effects of collagen on skin. The study enlisted 69 women aged 35-55 years who were administered collagen hydrolysate or a placebo for 8 weeks. Skin elasticity was the primary interest in this particular study.
The results showed that the women who received collagen hydrolysate demonstrated significant improvement in skin elasticity over the placebo group. After just 4 weeks of follow-up treatment, women aged 50+ showed statistically significant improvement in their skin elasticity.
Aside from collagen, there are other ways to support your skin health. Studies show that Hyaluronic acid is a key molecule for supporting healthy skin aging. H.A. — as it is often referred to — is the “glue” that helps bind our cells together, and it provides vital lubrication to our connective tissue in both our skin and our joints.
The last, but certainly not least, area to support during lockdown is digestive health. This final area on our list is a big one — it helps break down food and drink into the nutrients needed to keep our bodies working properly. From here, these nutrients are broken down into even smaller parts that are absorbed by the body and turned into energy, used for cell repair, and more.
One common way to support digestive health is probiotics. According to the Medical School at Harvard University, probiotics can help aid digestion and help maintain gut health. Probiotics are the “good” bacteria that help fight off the “bad” kind of bacteria that reside in your microbiome. However, not all probiotics are the same — no matter how friendly they are.
Sure, probiotics are the focal point in those digestive formulas you always see in TV commercials. They’re even found in yogurt. But those probiotics are usually backed with very little science — and are marketed using unsupported promises. That’s why it is important to find a probiotic strain that is backed by science!
With that in mind, let’s take a look at three strains of probiotics — all backed by science to support your digestive health:
BB536®: This clinically studied form of Bifidobaceteria longum was designed by scientists in Japan. It helps with occasional minor constipation, diarrhea, gas, and bloating. It even supports healthy immune function!
La-14™: An extensively researched form of Lactobacillus acidophilus, La-14™ is highly resistant to the acidic environment in your stomach. It prevails against harsh environments and is good at attaching itself to the cellular lining of the intestinal wall.
Gastrobacillus™: The final strain of probiotics that support digestive health is Gastrobacillus™. This powerful form of Bacillus coagulans is encased in a protective shell known as an endospore. This helps keep the strain intact until it reaches your GI tract.
Remember To Stay Strong!
Life has changed in multiple ways over the past year. The traditional classroom setting, the standard conference room at the office, and just about every other place of social interaction has been replaced with video calls broadcasted live from your living room.
Although the light at the end of the tunnel is perhaps clearer than it was 12 months ago, we still utilize these practices and may do so for months to come.
Many of us have felt the rigors that come from being cooped up in the house for this extended period of time. It’s important to continue to support your mental and physical health through practices of self-care as we wind our way through what we all hope is the end of a long and dark time. Stay strong, feed your body the right way, exercise, and stay positive — that is how we will all get through this together.