You work out and do cardio, eat clean and healthy foods, and try to get out into the fresh air and sunshine every day. On the surface you’re doing everything correctly. You should be full energy, ready to take on life like a tiger. But the truth is, you often feel tired and crappy. You seem to pick up every cold and flu that’s making the rounds. Somehow you just can’t figure out why (Photo by Lisa Fotios).

You may be overlooking things in your life that can stress your body harder than you realize. Too much partying, not getting enough sleep, skipping break-fast and eating too much junk are all factors that can take their toll on that healthy body. Combine these factors with stress at work, not drinking enough H2O and breathing polluted air, and it’s no wonder you don’t always feel like Superman. In fact, you may be more toxic than you realize.

Any of the above factors can cause a build up in your system of evil villains called free radicals. These culprits are highly toxic mutant oxygen molecules that can be found in the atmosphere, in foods, and in you. Free radicals cause chemical imbalances in the body referred to as “oxidative stress”. This condition has been linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, tissue inflammation, and a host of other illnesses. Free radicals also speed up the aging process by causing wrinkles, muscle atrophy and impotence!

The best way to counteract the ravages of free radicals comes from simple lifestyle changes. Quit smoking. Drink less. Cut saturated fats and other junk from your diet.

Supplementation with antioxidants is also vital to your battle with free radicals. Antioxidants are natural foods or carefully compounded supplements that “kick ass” on free radicals and help restore normal function to your body and its tissues. As with any supplement, check with your doctor first before loading up. Here is my list of favorite antioxidants.

Vitamins C and E help reverse oxidative stress by ridding the body of free radicals thereby returning it to optimal homeostasis. This is crucial for anyone who wants to be in tip top shape by maintaining a healthy heart and metabolism.

Wild blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, bilberries (in fact, just about any kind of berries), and pomegranates are all potent antioxidants and are loaded with vitamin C to boost the immune system.

Green tea is one of the most powerful antioxidants known to man in its ability to prevent 1) viral and bacterial activity, 2) lung cancer due to smoking, 3) skin damage and skin cancer due to radiation (sun damage) and a host of other age- related maladies.

Ginko Biloba has been shown to 1) reduce blood clots, 2) regulate blood pressure, 3) prevent the formation of free radicals, 4) increase the flow of blood to the brain, and 5) improve alertness and short-term memory.

There is no way to turn back the clock and stay young forever, but you can win an important struggle: the war on free radicals and the nasty stuff they can do to age you.