Are you confused like me? I know that free radicals are not good for us and can age the skin and body but I’m not exactly sure what they are so I decided to find out.
Also I want to know how we can protect ourselves from this damaging phenomenon – so I’ve got 5 tips on ways you can do that!
So what exactly is a free radical?
A free radical is any atom or molecule that has a single unpaired electron in an outer shell. While a few free radicals are not chemically reactive, most biologically-relevant free radicals are highly reactive. For most biological structures, free radical damage is closely associated with oxidative damage. Antioxidants are reducing agents, and limit oxidative damage to biological structures by passivating them from free radicals.
Not sure that makes it any clearer! This from the Live Science Web Site is a little clearer:
The body is under constant attack from oxidative stress. Oxygen in the body splits into single atoms with unpaired electrons. Electrons like to be in pairs, so these atoms, called free radicals, scavenge the body to seek out other electrons so they can become a pair. This causes damage to cells, proteins and DNA.
Free radicals are associated with human disease, including cancer, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and many others. They also may have a link to aging, which has been defined as a gradual accumulation of free-radical damage, according to Christopher Wanjek, the Bad Medicine columnist for Live Science.
Substances that generate free radicals can be found in the food we eat, the medicines we take, the air we breathe and the water we drink, according to the Huntington’s Outreach Project for Education at Stanford University. These substances include fried foods, alcohol, tobacco smoke, pesticides and air pollutants.
OK that’s more understandable. But what about our skin?
Free radicals are Skin Enemy No. 1. Left to their own devices, they go on to damage otherwise healthy cells in a process called oxidation. This is the same process that turns an apple brown or changes a copper roof from reddish gold to blue-green, so you can just imagine the way it can affect your skin. Sun, smoking, air pollution and poor diet all speed production of these free radicals.
So how can we protect ourselves against free radicals?
Antioxidants keep free radicals in check. Antioxidants are molecules in cells that prevent free radicals from taking electrons and causing damage. Antioxidants are able to give an electron to a free radical without becoming destabilized themselves, thus stopping the free radical chain reaction. Antioxidants are natural substances whose job is to clean up free radicals.
Our body produces some antioxidants on its own, but an insufficient amount. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants (too many free radicals and too few antioxidants).
So what can we do?
1. Antioxidants can be acquired through diet. Antioxidants are plentiful in fruits and vegetables, especially colourful fruits and vegetables. Some examples include berries, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, nuts and green tea.
2. There are other things you should watch out for like the way you cook – did you know that extra virgin Olive Oil – a very healthy oil full of antioxidants can lower the “bad” cholesterol levels but when heating it, it becomes unsafe. It’s great for your salad dressings, drizzled over steamed veg, a great dip for bread etc. However, if you’re cooking over a high heat, don’t choose olive oil. Olive oil has a lower smoke point and when you heat it to smoke point the beneficial nature disappears and potentially health harming compounds form. Better options are coconut oil or rapeseed oil.
3. Exercise: some say that intense training is increasing your risk of heart disease and cancer, making you age faster, and possibly, causing you to die sooner because of the free radicals. However, most researchers agree that exercise is beneficial for so many things and that moderate exercise produces healthy amounts of oxidative stress, to the point it can be called an antioxidant. So just keep your exercise to a moderate level.
4. Watch your alcohol consumption! Alcohol is known to increase free radical activity in the body – another compelling reason to drink much less.
5. Give up smoking! One of the things that make smoking so dangerous is that many of the components of tobacco smoke are oxidants, agents that promote chemical reactions with oxygen. Therefore, they also increase the by-products of such reactions, which are the free radicals.
7. Good skincare – need I say more? Aim for skincare with Vitamins A, C and E included. Check out Arbonne for pure, safe and beneficial products.
6. Look for a good supplement – if you don’t feel your diet is giving you the support you need you can always look for a supplement. The Arbonne Immunity Support drink is a good way to get antioxidants into the body and I’m sure there are many more out there. BUT remember that your diet should be rich in a rainbow of colours of fruit and veg every day!
Until next time,
Huge hugs and here’s to fighting those free radicals,
Jill is an Independent Consultant with Arbonne International and the views expressed are her own based on Internet research. Jill is not a scientist, nutritionist or skincare expert but is passionate about helping people understand more about how to look after their body, skin and about the ingredients in Health and Wellness products. If you would like to know more please complete the form in the side bar and I will send you regular information and blog posts.
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