Free radicals are considered the number one factor behind skin aging. They damage DNA, cellular membranes, and the dermal connective tissues, particularly collagen by stimulating collagenase enzyme production.
Free radicals are electrically charged, highly unstable, and very reactive oxygen atoms or molecules. Free radicals are formed when an oxygen atom loses an electron, the loss of the electron makes the atom or molecules electrically unstable. To regain stability, free radicals tend to capture electrons from other substances to neutralize. This reaction can give rise to two different processes:
- The neutralization effect of one free radical can cause the formation of another, causing a chain reaction of free radical formation where innumerable free radical reactions occur within seconds of the initial reaction.
- It can attach itself to the cellular membrane, allowing the free radical to restabilize, but in the process, a new oxidation compound is formed that damages the cellular membrane. The DNA, the cellar repair mechanisms, etc, this is why the skin must have a reservoir of anti-oxidants.
The instability and high reactivity of free radicals are corrected when they give or take an electron from another molecule. Oxygen is necessary for an organism’s survival and is a primary producer of free radicals in the body.
The body internally, free radicals are produced by metabolic reactions and externally, they are a result of UV radiation, pesticides, air pollution, drugs, cigarette smoke, stress, and unhealthy lifestyles. The body has its natural mechanism of protection against free radical-induced damage. This protective ability diminishes with age and when the body is exposed to situations where the number of free radicals formed is greater than the body’s natural ability to neutralize them. The production of free radicals above that from which the body can protect itself is responsible for numerous undesired problems.
The overall result is cellular damage alteration in the structure of the cellular membrane and decreased skin elasticity and pliability. Free radicals can also harm the Langerhans cell by diminishing the efficacy of the skin’s immune system. Free radicals favor the production of secondary chemicals in the skin, these cause a negative chemical reaction and cellular damage that further accentuate skin aging.
It is important to note that it is an excessive amount of free radical that causes serious and often irreversible damage.
Anti-free radical & antioxidants are components that counteract the destructive effect of free radical activity. Compounds such as Vitamin E (the different tocopherol forms), Vitamin C (ascorbic acid form) are some examples of ingredients currently considered free radical scavengers. They can be systemically or topically incorporated into a skincare regimen to help reduce the free radical effect, by decomposing the free radicals into compounds against which the body can defend itself.
Fortunately, eating a diet rich in antioxidants can help increase your blood antioxidant levels to fight oxidative stress and reduce the risk of these diseases. The best antioxidant sources are fruits and vegetables, as well as products derived from plants. Some good choices include:
Some healthy food rich in anti-oxidant:
- Dark chocolate
- Blueberries, strawberris, raspberries.
- Broccoli, cabbage, spinach
- Goji Berries.
- Legumes: red kidney beans or black beans
- Green tea,
- Black tea
- Red wine
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