Before we can manage or treat something, we need to understand it. The terms ‘Free Radicals’ and ‘Oxidative stress’ are used all the time.. but what exactly are we talking about?
FREE RADICALS – are unstable highly reactive molecules found within the body. These molecules contain unpaired electrons within their outer structure, which combine with the first molecules they touch. In combining with this structure, it damages the healthy cell, and in the process another free radical is created.
Damaged cells lead to cell death and cause signs of aging and even illness. This negative cascade continues until the free radicals are neutralized.
So what neutralizes free radicals? Antioxidants!
ANTIOXIDANTS – Are vitamins and minerals such as Vitamins A, C and E.
Antioxidants serve as electron donors to free radicals, thus neutralizing the free radicals but remaining stable themselves. Antioxidants stop the cascade of free radical damage by donating an electron, thus ending the cycle of further free radical creation and minimizing collateral damage.
A few key Antioxidants that improve skin (as well as overall health) include:
- Glutathione – is one of the body’s most important antioxidants and is produced within every cell of the body. It is essential for immune health, fighting cellular damage and helps boost brain health. Glutathione levels in the body may be reduced by a number of factors, including poor nutrition, environmental toxins, and stress. Levels also unfortunately decline with age.
- Vitamin C – is a powerful antioxidant and essential in the production of collagen. It also helps brighten and even skin tone.
- Carotenoids – reduce melasma and also prevent hyper-pigmentation. Carotenoids are a class of natural chemicals that primarily function as antioxidants. These carotenoids, when eaten, also goes preferentially into the skin. They absorb UV and stop melanin production.
As we have looked at in previous articles (Healthy Food for Beautiful Skin), a good diet is essential for overall health and great skin. Most of the antioxidants we get are from the food we eat and the various supplements we take. However as little as 1% of the antioxidants ingested reach the skin cells.
The skin is the largest organ in the body and acts to protect our internal organs from external aggressors. Therefore skin cells are bombarded with stressors and pollutants from the environment on a daily basis and is often the first place to show signs of oxidative stress.
OXIDATIVE STRESS – occurs when there is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body.
Several factors contribute to oxidative stress and excess free radical production. These factors can include:
- Unbalanced Diet
- Excessive Alcohol Consumption
- Sunlight, UV Light and Radiation
- Environmental Toxins, such as pollution, pesticides etc.
Uncontrolled oxidative stress can accelerate the aging process and may contribute to the development of a number of health conditions and illnesses. The skin is often the first to show signs of oxidative stress in the form of eczema, dermatitis, rashes, fine lines and wrinkles and discoloration.
Therefore it is important to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Ensure there is antioxidant protection at all cellular layers, because it is impossible to stop all free radicals at the surface – even with sunblock, which is the first barrier of defense.
Many free radicals get through the initial skin barrier or come from inside the cell itself. To maximize antioxidant skin protection, it is necessary to apply effective topical antioxidants to the skin, which must be must be high-quality, stable and in the purest form. Therefore potent Antioxidant Serums are ideal.
Our top recommendations are below:
In conclusion, managing oxidative stress is about balance, therefore try live a balanced life and include the following tips:
- Eat well and proportionately
- Have a good daily skin care regime
- Use topical Antioxidants to prevent and also help treat signs of skin aging.
- Wear sunblock daily and reapply for prolonged sun exposure
- Avoid smoking and ideally second hand smoke too
- Get at least 30min of moderate exercise a day
- Take supplements where necessary or if you body is lacking in certain minerals
- Get sufficient sleep
- And of course drink lots of water (1 – 2 liters a day)
- IS Clinical oxidative stress & free radical damage to the skin – Dr. Charlene DeHaven M.D.;