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Free Radicals, Antioxidants and Their Effects on Your Skin

Come to think of it, your skin is your hero. It forms a protective layer that ensures all microbes and elements are kept at bay. It goes a step further to regulate your body temperature and allow you to experience the sensations of heat, cold and touch. What more could you possibly ask?

However, the sad thing is that the same heroic skin often turns a villain as you travel down the aging road. There are many things that contribute to the abuses the skin contends with, but free radicals stand out as the harshest and most unforgiving. They are everywhere and their coming is almost always unannounced.

In the rest of this article, we shall go into details looking at the free radicals, how they come about and their effects on the skin. We shall also look at antioxidants, a special group of defensive elements that fight off the free radicals.

Free Radicals

Think about the pollution you endure on a daily basis. At the end of day, we usually wash off the dirt and layers of fine dust. While that looks and sounds okay, have you ever imagined how much damage the pollutants have on your body and especially the skin?

To put that into perspective let us dive straight in and look at free radicals. Your body is nothing more than a mass of atoms. When atoms join forces, they form molecules, like protein, lipids, nucleosides and many others. Atoms have both positive charges (protons) and negative charges(electrons).

A stable atom has the same number of protons and electrons. Whenever an atom has more protons than electrons, it becomes unbalanced and forms what we refer to as a free radical.

Free radicals form through a variety of processes both environmental (pollution, drugs, and exposure to sunlight) and physiological (diet, smoking, stress, inflammation, exercise and drugs). There are many classes of free radicals, but the notable ones are the oxygen free radicals. In science they are referred to as Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). They include hydrogen peroxide, superoxide, singlet oxygen and hydroxyl anions.

What Do Radicals Do In The Body

Free radicals are reactive in nature and can mount a lethal attack on your skin cells as they scavenge for free electrons to make them complete and stable. As the free radicals bond with molecules or atoms in a desperate attempt to stabilize, they cause oxidative stress and this can damage the cells including the nucleic matter (DNA).

As a matter of fact, if oxidative stress is left unchecked, it can weaken body tissues and accelerate ageing through DNA damage. The same way an apple or avocado turns brown when left on the counter, your skin goes through thousands of such reactions every single minute.

Being the largest organ, the skin is an easy target for free radicals. However, the biggest threat the skin faces on a day to day basis is the premature aging.

How Antioxidants Stabilize Free Radicals

The safest strategy for you would be to avoid free radicals. However, this is not possible because life must go on. Instead, you can take precautions to guard your skin against unhealthy exposures. Apart from lifestyle change and avoiding the free radical triggers, loading up with antioxidants is the read game changer.

In simple terms, antioxidants are compounds that give free radicals the electrons they need as a strategy to prevent them from attacking your body cells. They save your skin cells from the threat of oxidative stress.

A wide range of antioxidants can be sourced from food containing the following nutrients:

  • Vitamin A, C, E -liver, eggs, berries, bell peppers, oranges, nuts, seeds and sunflower.
  • Beta-carotene -spinach, peas, carrots and other brightly colored vegetables.
  • Lycopene -Watermelon, tomatoes, pink and red fruits
  • Lutein -papaya, oranges, corn, and leafy vegetables.
  • Selenium -legumes, nuts, corn, wheat, whole grains and cheese
  • Manganese -almonds, pecans, brown rice and spinach
  • Zeaxanthin -Turnip greens, broccoli, corn, collard greens and kale.

There are also topical serums, lotions and creams out in the market that are antioxidant powerhouses. They combine most of the antioxidants into one package giving you an all-in-one elixir to help your body fight free radicals and minimize the damaging effects of oxidative stress on your skin. See Avon Dermatology for other skin care tips.

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