Have you ever wondered what happens to your skin when it is continuously exposed to higher concentration of pollutants? Well, it causes an increase in free radicals that is harmful to your skin.
Free radicals over time can let dark spots, signs of ageing, wrinkles appear on your skin. But, an effective skincare regime can help you shield your skin against them.
Let’s look at what free radicals are and how you can minimize damages caused by them.
What Are Free Radicals?
The human body produces highly reactive and unstable molecules  known as free-radicals during cell metabolic processes. They are technically a by-product of your metabolism. However, they can also be produced in the body due to exposure to chemicals, pollutants, etc. present in the environment.
The frequency of your exposure to pollutants or carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) determine the degree of damage your skin is prone to. If your workplace or house is near an industrial area, your exposure to pollution is much higher. This increases the chances of your skin damage.
Some of such environmental pollutants that trigger production of free radicals are -
- Cigarette smoke
- Floor cleaners
- UVA & UVB rays
Free radicals have a really small lifespan of about fraction of seconds. However, within this short time frame, they tend to accumulate in your cells and damage your lipids, proteins and DNA causing different illnesses and accelerating your ageing process. They damage your skin’s collagen, making wrinkles, dark spots, fine lines, etc. show up on your skin. In some instances, the DNA mutations even lead to serious health conditions such as cancer.
How Do Free Radicals Damage Your Skin?
Our body is made of almost 60% of water  that contains abundant oxygen. Inside our body, we have plenty of oxygen atoms. Some of these atoms go through an oxidation process where the oxygen atoms split and become free radicals. Through this process, the oxidised atoms steal electrons from everywhere. They attract electrons from other atoms. If they do not get enough electrons from the atoms, they tend to steal it from your healthy cells, even from your skin’s DNA, thus risking the health of your skin.
This is a biological process as mentioned earlier. This is a constant process that takes place within our body all the time but what you need to do is try to minimize the process as much as you can. If these free radicals manage to attract electrons from your healthy skin cells, it would eventually lead to early ageing signs like wrinkles, skin sagging, dullness, dryness, age spots, hyperpigmentation, etc.
The theory of ageing and free radicals, first summarised in 1956, suggests that free radicals break down the skin cells which leads to rapid ageing of skin . Also, with age, your body loses its ability to fight against the damage caused by the free radicals. As a result, your body produces more free radicals and oxidative stress damages more body cells. Naturally, they cause a degenerative aging process besides other skin concerns.
How Can You Minimize Free Radical Damage?
Antioxidants  can help you reduce the effects caused by free radicals. Made of multiple molecules and atoms, antioxidants fulfill the need of free radicals. They can donate an extra electron to the free radical atoms so that they don’t steal electrons from your healthy cells and cause damage. In the process, they do not become destabilized themselves.
You can get antioxidants from your regular food. Make sure to include vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E in your diet as they are rich in antioxidants. You can take antioxidant supplements too.
Which Food Has Antioxidants?
Spinach is considered to be one of the most nutritious vegetables. Not just antioxidants, but it is also rich in vitamins and minerals. It is low in calories as well. According to a plant-based diet analysis , spinach can contain up to 0.9 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams. Spinach is a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin types of antioxidants that can fight off eye damage caused by free radicals.
Beans are known for being extremely high in fiber. But beans happen to be a source of antioxidants too. 100 grams of beans can provide you with almost 2 mmol of antioxidants. Even some beans have a special antioxidant called kaempferol which offers several impressive health benefits.
C. Red Cabbage
Red cabbage or purple cabbage contains 2.2 mmol of antioxidants in every gram. The amount is almost four times higher than in regular cabbage. Red cabbage is also a good source of vitamins K, C and A. It has a particular antioxidant named anthocyanins that can reduce the chances of heart diseases.
Beets or beetroot, are a great source of antioxidants. 100-gram beetroots have up to 1.7 antioxidants. They also contain fiber, iron, folate and potassium. Beets are particularly rich betalains- an antioxidant that can clear your colon and digestive tract and also reduces the risk of cancer.
Tomatoes  contain antioxidants called lycopene. It can work against free radicals and also protect your body from heart disease and cancer. Tomato also has vitamin C that is a source of antioxidants.
Blueberries contain plenty of antioxidants and nutrients. 100 grams of blueberries offer 9.2 mmol of antioxidants. Many researchers suggest that blueberries provide the highest amount of antioxidants among other fruits and vegetables.
F. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolates are packed with antioxidants, nutrients, and minerals. It contains up to 15 mmol of antioxidants per 100 grams. Chocolates with higher cocoa content tend to have more antioxidants.
How To Incorporate Antioxidant In Your Skincare Routine?
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an antioxidant. You can get it from your regular food intake or apply it topically to nourish your skin. It neutralizes the effect of free radicals and protects your skin against oxidative stress. Vitamin C also helps to keep your collagen healthy. You can use lemon juice on your face as it is a good source of Vitamin C. You can try using Anti-Ageing & Antioxidant Booster Shot by SkinKraft to prevent skin cell damage and rejuvenate your skin.
Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3. You will find it in many of your skin care products as an ingredient. Studies suggest that if you apply niacinamide topically, it will minimize signs of ageing including fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, redness and age spots.
3. Vitamin E
You will find many skin care products containing Vitamin E. It can reduce the damage caused by UVA and UVB. This antioxidant helps to boost your skin’s natural protection. Vitamin E combats the effects of free radicals in your skin and reduces the acne, wrinkles and other ageing signs.
4. Green Tea
Drinking green tea can offer you a lot of benefits. It has higher levels of antioxidants. But you can also apply green tea extract topically on your skin to reduce the damages done by UV- rays. It also works great against oxidant stress.
5. Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba leaf extract can be used as an anti-ageing ingredient in your skincare routine. It decreases the effects of free radicals and protects your skin from infections.
Free radicals can either be generated within your body naturally or result from prolonged exposure to environmental pollutants. You can’t but avoid free radicals build up on your cells, however, you can certainly prevent the damages they cause to your skin’s health. Make sure to follow a thorough skin care regimen that contains products rich in antioxidants like vitamin C. Also, include adequate amounts of antioxidant-rich foods like beetroot, spinach, tomatoes, etc. in your diet to help your skin fight off the free radicals. In essence, practice healthy lifestyle routines, eat healthy, and take care of your skin to prevent any type of concerns.
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