An antioxidant is something that reverses or stops ‘oxidation’, the chemical reaction that takes place when a substance gains oxygen. Imagine a freshly cut apple or avocado turning brown, a nail becoming rusty or a copper statue turning green - these are everyday examples of oxidation.
Oxidation occurs within all of us, however it can become harmful when it creates free radicals - unstable molecules that negatively impact cell membrane health, proteins, lipids and DNA which can trigger a number of human diseases including cancer and heart diseases. We also take in free radicals from our environment, for example they are in burnt and fried foods, chemicals including pesticides, personal products and various other exposures in our daily lives. These free radicals need to be caught before they cause us damage.
This is where antioxidants can come to the rescue. Our natural protectors against the damage that free radicals cause, antioxidants can help us age better, reduce the severity of chronic disease, improve our cognition and mental health, and improve and maintain our general wellness. The nutritional content of natural whole foods is just what our body needs to negate the effects of our own, sometimes damaging, biochemical processes.
However, we sometimes struggle to obtain sufficient antioxidants due to variety of factors. Many of us live in nutritionally deficient societies where urbanisation, overuse of agricultural land, intensive farming, stress-fuelled lifestyles and easy access to processed foods are prevalent and mean we may not provide our body with the essential nutrition we require.
So what can we do to protect ourselves?
Eat organic and/or local produce as often as possible.
Base your diet on whole foods (fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains, plus try going gluten, wheat and dairy free when you fly)
Minimise and ideally eliminate processed foods which are usually void of any antioxidant nutrition.
Keep a healthy mind by staying hydrated, happy and stress-free. Try 1Above hydration support drink.
Include key nutrients in your diet that help support high antioxidant activity, such as: Turmeric: containing the active ingredient curcumin, this spice is known for killing cancers, improving cognition and reducing the signs of ageing.
Vitamin C: improves immune cell function.
Vitamin D: enhance innate immunity and inhibits the development of autoimmunity.
Probiotics: along with their benefits for digestive and immune health, the friendly bacteria in our gut have been associated with reduced oxidation and inflammation.
How we can we get enough antioxidants when we fly?
Working with Absolute Taste we’ve developed our new private jet in-flight menu to support optimal performance as well aid digestion and recovery after travel.
High dietary antioxidant intakes are associated with decreased DNA damage in airline pilots with those getting the most vitamin C from food, B carotene from food, cryptoxanthin from food, and lutein/zeaxanthin from food, seeing the most significant results. Studies show that a diet consisting of a variety of fruits and vegetables provides a natural source of these antioxidants as well as potentially offering other protection against cumulative DNA damage and radiation exposure. The results are especially relevant to flight crews, astronauts, and frequent flyers.
Some highlights from our menu show how you can take in these vital antioxidants when flying.
Taster of the In -Flight Menu avaialble with Absolute Taste
Chicken tagine with grilled aubergine, almond cauliflower couscous and pomegranate seeds
Rich in antioxidants and fibre, cauliflower counteracts the sluggish digestion brought on by altitude and supports effective liver function and detoxification. Vitamin C and potassium packed pomegranate support a healthy heart, aided by the anti-inflammatory effects of the spices.
Macro salad with quinoa, butternut squash, beetroot, avocado, sauerkraut, dulse seaweed, kale, baby chard and pumpkin seeds with a miso and fresh ginger dressing
Radiation when flying stresses the immune system and the seaweed and kale in this salad provide iron and calcium to support it, working in tandem with sauerkraut, which promotes the growth of friendly bacteria in the gut. Beta-carotene from the butternut squash meanwhile promotes skin health.
Pan roasted cannon of lamb with butternut squash, charred apricots, coriander and toasted coconut
Butternut squash is a great source of energy sustaining carbohydrate and fibre which supports healthy digestion whilst maintaining a relaxed nervous system. High levels of vitamin A support impaired cognitive function, helping to manage the physical stresses experienced at altitude.
Chocolate and avocado mousse with red berries, cacao nibs and fresh basil (v)
Cacao is high in magnesium which helps to relax the nervous system at altitude. Avocado is also an excellent source of healthy monounsaturated fats, nourishing for the skin and protecting for the cardiovascular system. This is a tasty, satisfying dessert designed to help balance blood sugar levels.
The Aviation Nutritionist energy protein balls (v)
Packed with flavour and natural sweetness, these protein balls ensure stable blood sugar for consistent energy levels. They contain chia which is full of antioxidants to boost the immune system, and combined with blood sugar-balancing oats, is also high in protein and omegas to aid digestion. The magnesium in cashews helps reduce the chance of headaches, and supports immunity and lower blood pressure at altitude, while the beetroot is rich in nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels and improves blood flow.
Immunity juice: Beetroot, carrot, fresh ginger and turmeric
Rich in nitric oxide to dilate the blood vessels and improve circulation in-flight, beetroot also provides natural sweetness to this juice. Ginger helps to aid digestion, whilst turmeric provides an effective anti-inflammatory to counteract the stresses on the body whilst in the air.
Booster shot: Apple, lemon and fresh ginger
Rich in antioxidants, this booster also provides excellent digestive aid from the pectin in the apple and ginger. The vitamins from the fruit will give you a natural immunity boost, while the ginger contains gingerols and shogaols which relax the intestinal tract, helping to counteract motion sickness and nausea.
2 simple steps to minimise the harmful effects of travel
1. Ensure you consume enough antioxidants before, during and after the flight.
2. When you arrive at your destination have a recovery bath before you go to sleep and help reset your body’s rhythm. Just mix a cup of Epsom salts with baking soda or Himalayan sea salts and you’ll really see the difference.