Keto Diet

Can Antioxidant Foods Help Lose Weight?

Many natural foods contain antioxidants, and eating more of these foods can help improve the body’s antioxidant capacity to effectively fight and scavenge free radicals, thereby reducing the risk of inflammatory diseases. These antioxidant-rich foods not only have anti-inflammatory effects, but they can also help with weight loss.

In a recent study, researchers identified a gene called SKN-1B in the nematode Cryptobacterium hidradenum. The gene helps the nematode’s brain cells detect when it’s time to eat and signals the nematode to stop eating when it’s full.

The researchers had a brainstorm. If this type of genetic control exists in nematodes, then it might also work in humans. This led them to a transcription factor called Nrf2.

Nrf2 is a key protein in the body’s endogenous antioxidant defense system, which plays an important role in fighting insulin resistance and preventing obesity. When Nrf2 is activated, it exerts its anti-inflammatory activity by directly inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory molecules, thereby reducing oxidative stress and providing protection against cellular damage.

This sounds cool! But what does the anti-inflammatory effect of Nrf2 have to do with appetite and body weight?

How Does The Brain Controls Appetite?

The area of the brain that controls hunger is located primarily in the hypothalamus, hence the name appetite control center, which registers feelings of fullness and signals you to stop eating.

After each meal, your stomach releases a protein called GLP-1. This protein stimulates the secretion of insulin to control blood sugar levels. Your adipose tissue then sends a message to the hypothalamus through a protein called leptin. Leptin works by informing the hypothalamus that you have eaten enough food and has enough energy to carry out the day’s activities.

Leptin also activates an enzyme called AMPK, which prompts the transfer of glucose from the blood to the cells, thereby lowering the amount of sugar in the blood. Once AMPK is activated, the body begins to burn stored fat and increase cellular energy, which serves to maintain health and slow down aging.

Antioxidant Foods

Inflammation Affects the Brain’s Control of Appetite

Chronic inflammation in the body promotes oxidative stress in the hypothalamus, and when this occurs, it interferes with all signaling, including the feeling of satiety. The result is that leptin does not reach normal levels, causing cells to be unable to absorb glucose from the bloodstream, which in turn leads to high blood sugar and insulin resistance, which over time eventually leads to weight gain and other health problems.

Fortunately, the body has an antioxidant defense system in the form of Nrf2 that reduces oxidative stress in the hypothalamus, thereby restoring leptin’s ability to properly signal satiety.

Nrf2’s Anti-inflammatory Effect Helps Treat Obesity

Obesity, a metabolic disorder characterized by excessive accumulation of adipose tissue, has become an increasingly prevalent disease worldwide. Excess adipose tissue underlies systemic low-grade chronic inflammation.

Chronic inflammation is promoted by an increase in the number and size of adipocytes and the inability to obtain sufficient oxygen from the blood. This oxygen shortage and the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines not only enhance the body’s inflammatory state but also increase oxidative stress on the system.

In particular, free radicals further increase inflammation and contribute to obesity by driving the growth and number of fat cells. In contrast, research has found that Nrf2 not only fights insulin resistance but also helps detoxify the body by reducing oxidative stress and eliminating free radicals, thus acting as a treatment for obesity.

Antioxidant Foods Can Help Detoxify The Body and Reduce Weight

After learning about the benefits of Nrf2, how can you activate it? It’s quite simple. You can activate Nrf2 by eating more cruciferous vegetables and foods rich in vitamin D.

Cruciferous plants produce an antioxidant called carotenoids that induce Nrf2. There are many such vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, rape, and radishes. Vitamin D can maintain DNA stability by activating Nrf2. Major food sources of vitamin D include fish, rainbow-scaled fish, tuna, mushrooms, whole milk, and high-fat cheese.


Eating more antioxidant-rich foods can increase the activity of Nr2 in the body, which not only protects the body from oxidative damage and inflammation caused by free radicals but also helps burn fat and lose weight.