I often find myself speaking with people who marvel at my rather youthful appearance, or more accurately, the youthful condition of my skin. While I don't mean to boast, people rarely believe my age when I tell them, due to the fact that my skin doesn't seem to corroborate my story. If you've ever wondered what makes the difference when it comes to younger looking skin, it's time to learn the truth about free radicals.
What are free radicals?
Free radicals are molecules that have an odd number of electrons on their outer layer, and are created when our bodies use oxygen. Because electrons want to be paired, rather than in odd numbers, these molecules are highly unstable. Free radicals quickly link up with other molecules and proteins in order to stabilize. Without antioxidants to neutralize these free radicals, in the process preventing the cells they are within from functioning as they normally should.
How are free radicals created?
Free radicals occur naturally as a byproduct when oxygen is used within our body. Some examples of this are free radicals that are created as our body goes through metabolism, or that are created in order to fight viruses and bacteria. Typically, our body knows exactly how to handle these types of free radicals and they tend to not be a big issue. However, additional free radicals are created through exposure to pollution, excessive amounts of sunlight, smoking, alcohol use and stress – these instances of free radical creation tend to be much harder on the body. Those who are constantly exposed to these free radicals, (such as the politicians that are always under stress, or individuals who frequently smoke or consume alcohol) appear to age much more quickly than those who limit their exposure to these risk factors.
What do free radicals do to skin?
Two of the most visible effects of free radicals are wrinkles and the breakdown of collagen (which in turn causes saggy-looking skin). While it is impossible to stop ourselves from aging or wrinkling altogether, it is possible to slow down the process by limiting our exposure to unnecessary free radicals and through a diet rich in antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals.
Personally, my favorite way to get antioxidants is to enjoy at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day (especially leafy greens). I always advise people to get as much as they can out of their diet before resorting to supplements, as our bodies aren't able to absorb supplements as well as they can absorb the nutrients and vitamins from what we eat. A great way to get a lot of fruits and veggies in one serving is by drinking a green smoothie (a smoothie with both fruit and veggies in it)
Try this recipe for an antioxidant boost….
- Handful of Swiss chard
- 1 Beet
- 1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
- honey to desired sweetness
- water for consistency desired
Blend well in a high speed blender and share with someone you love!
I also recommend taking a good look at the products you are using on your skin. Not only should you make sure your beauty products are free from potentially dangerous chemicals. It's a great idea to make sure that you try to incorporate antioxidant-rich products in your regimen as well.