Nothing beats a good dose of antioxidants. Naturally found in green tea, leafy vegetables, berries and more, these mighty little nutrients are a staple of good health and prevent damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants also act exactly as they are named: they prevent oxidation. Oxidation turns things brown, including your cells, inside and out. If you use oxygen, then you need to keep reading.
Even our own bodies consumption of oxygen creates free radicals. What are free radicals? These pesky little molecules act just as they sound; they run around freely, acting in a radical fashion to destroy everything healthy and beautiful. But free radicals don’t just kill heathy cells, they harm and mutate them, leaving them to produce more and more mutated cells. This chain reaction can be caused by chain smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol in excess and subjecting yourself to sunburn. The polluted air we breathe and the pesticide sprayed foods we eat also provide us with unwanted free radicals. Oxidative stress in skin cells is primarily caused by exposure to sunlight. Antioxidants combat free radicals and help prevent cellular oxidation. Antioxidants are your friend. So let’s get to know them better.
Bright and dark colored fruits and vegetables are a great source of antioxidants. Try to consume as many of these organic goodies as possible. Yes I said organic. We don’t want to eat the cancer causing chemicals we’re working hard to avoid, right? If it’s brightly or dark colored, leafy and green and straight from the earth, eat it. Orange and yellow colored fruits and vegetables are high in lutein, while red and purple foods are rich in lycopene. Consume more natural nuts and grains. These foods are all rich in antioxidants.
But what about all of the antioxidant buzz words floating around? Terms such as flavonoids and polyphenols (found in green tea and coffee berry) and carotenoids are used to describe classes of antioxidants. Other terms are used to describe sub-classes of antioxidants, thus creating confusion for those of us not up to date on the latest scientific discovery. Don’t let the jargon overwhelm you from the basic fact that most simple, natural things are often the best for you.
But don’t just eat your antioxidants, wear them. Nutrients rich skin care products will help shield your skin from free radicle damage, thus preventing wrinkles, hyper pigmentation and even skin cancer. Vitamins A (retinols), C (L-ascorbic acid) and E are key antioxidant ingredients I look for when shopping for skin care products. Vitamin C is most effective when used topically versus orally and it stops the free radical chain reaction before it starts. Vitamin E breaks a chain reaction once it’s in effect. Vitamin E helps to regulate vitamin A, and if you were kind enough to read my last article, you know the youthful benefits of retinoids derived from vitamin A.
The bottom line is all antioxidants are good for your health and you need a variety of them to get the job done. Try incorporating a mixture of different nutrient rich foods and products to win the free radical war. In the case of antioxidants, the more the merrier!