Reason #24: Yoga increases your natural antioxidants

We've all heard about the substantial benefits of eating foods rich in antioxidants such as decreased risk of cancer, heart disease, and vision loss. While the jury is still out on some of the more miraculous benefits, at least one long term study showed antioxidants help participants maintain healthy cognitive function 18 years later.  There is also evidence that eating whole fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants helps to slow the process of aging.

The benefits of antioxidants are clear, but did you know there is more you can do to increase and maintain healthy antioxidant levels other than eating antioxidant-rich foods? You may be surprised to learn that doing yoga is one of those ways! A 2015 Study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that only 12 weeks of yoga raised the level of natural antioxidants in the body and led to fewer signs of oxidative stress among participants when compared to people who did running, cycling, or jumping rope. Not only that, but the immune system of people who did yoga improved.

How do you explain this? Oxidative stress causes things to break down in our bodies and release harmful free radicals. In order to combat oxidative stress our bodies have a natural antioxidant defense system. Researchers found that yoga helps increase some of the key proteins and enzymes within this defense system, most likely through a reduction in stress related hormones. 

So the next time you are looking for an antioxidant boost, grab some blueberries and your yoga mat!