Every day we are exposed to air pollution, sunlight, smoke and more all which give rise to the production of “free radicals”. Damage to our DNA, protein (collagen & elastin) and protein remodeling (skin healing) are all side effects of the production of free radicals. Internally the metabolism, the effects of stress and emotions and the result of everyday body process that utilize oxygen all create free radicals. Externally ultraviolet light from the sun and environmental stressors such as smoking, pollution, poor dietary habits and chemical exposure also contribute. The production of free radicals and the damage they cause is one of the key mechanisms of aging. As one ages, the skin’s structural foundation weakens. Specifically, collagen which keeps the skin firm and elastin which maintains elasticity and helps prevent the skin from sagging. Free radicals attack your skin’s collagen and elastin layers, accelerating the creation of fine lines and wrinkles.
Skin-aging caused by free radicals occurs over time however, the damaging effect of free radicals is exacerbated in the presence of an antioxidant
deficiency which can accelerate this process considerably. Consider for example the skin of a smoker aged 40 years compared to a non-smoker. In this case, the antioxidant defenses of the skin are far outweighed by the production of free radicals as a byproduct of the daily cigarette habit. Much research has been done with regard to the benefits of antioxidants to combat the production of free radicals. Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals that harm the cells, causing damage and premature aging. Specifically antioxidants help to maintain the health of the skin cells such as collagen and elastin which keeps skin supple.
There are two ways to slow the effects of free radical damage on the skin:
Reduce the production of free radicals. You can’t really do much
about reducing free radical product that is the byproduct of everyday bodily processes however you can reduce your exposure to the environmental factors such as ultraviolet rays, pollution, chemicals and poor dietary habits. So the key advice such as minimizing exposure to midday sun and giving up smoking apply here.
Improve your antioxidant status. The neutralizing effects of antioxidants don’t prevent the effects of free radical damage however ensuring that your antioxidant status is optimal will certainly slow skin aging. Antioxidants can be increased internally and topically by:
Antioxidant Supplementation – specifically vitamins C and E, as well as lipoic acid and flavonoids (green tea and grapeseed), exert protective effect against oxidative stress in the skin and help protect the skin from damage caused by the sun. Lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin as a specific subset of carotenoids may also be used as oral sun protectants and contribute to the maintenance of skin health.
Whether in our diet, as supplements or topically applied, antioxidant play an important role in slowing down the aging process. Of course to get the best effect it is important to consider all three delivery methods. In addition, minimising your exposure to the environmental factors that cause free radical production, will significantly add to slowing the aging process, not just of your skin, but of your whole body.Twitter It!
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