Free radicals: how do they affect the skin?

Free radicals are one of the main causes of aging of the body and skin. When there are too many of them, and our body cannot cope with them, they lead not only to the formation of wrinkles, but can be one of the causes of dry skin.

Free radicals and oxidative stress, what is it?

Free radicals are molecules that have one or more unpaired electrons, making them extremely unstable. Basically, they are known for their harmful effects on the body. They accelerate its aging, and are the cause of many diseases.

These dangerous chemical compounds are formed in our body as a result of various factors such as polluted air, UV radiation or improper diet, etc.

Note! Oxidative stress is a process in which free radicals attack the body’s cells, causing damage and leading to various diseases. That is why it is so important for our body to have free radical scavengers, i.e. antioxidants that neutralize their negative effects, protecting cells from damage.

Redox reactions are constantly taking place in the human body. During oxidation, one particle donates electrons, while the other restores them. This allows you to get energy from food, and also lead to the formation of many important chemical compounds.

Oxidation is a natural and necessary process for the human body. However, when there is an imbalance between free radical activity and antioxidant activity, oxidative stress occurs. When the number of free radicals increases, and the body’s defense systems based on antioxidants are not enough, the balance is disturbed and oxidative stress occurs.

The problem arises when too many particles with an unpaired electron are formed, which are called free radicals. When oxidants outweigh the antioxidants, oxidative stress occurs, causing severe damage to cellular macromolecules. Oxidation of cells and tissues leads to many serious diseases, including tumor changes.

However, it is worth knowing that a small amount of free radicals is necessary for the health of the body. They are responsible for the proper course of inflammatory reactions in the body and are a weapon in the fight against microbes, they also play an important role as regulators of cellular processes.

Additional Information! Yes, free radicals are very dangerous, but in too large quantities. They are needed by the body, including in the fight against viruses. The body uses them to absorb the virus’s electrons, so the virus dies.

Sources of free radicals

Free radicals are formed in metabolic processes and it is impossible to avoid this phenomenon. Causes of oxidative stress are often linked to unhealthy lifestyles: consumption of highly processed foods high in trans fats and simple sugars.

In addition, insufficient sleep, alcohol abuse and cigarette smoking contribute to oxidative stress. Free radicals are formed in large quantities in people who are in a polluted environment and work with potent chemicals. Overexposure to the skin of UV rays, some drugs, including antidepressants, birth control pills and anticoagulants contribute to the formation of free radicals.

Symptoms of oxidative stress

Oxidative stress becomes a disease to some extent mainly due to the unhealthy lifestyle that accompanies much of society. It is easy to confuse it with fatigue, infection, allergies, indigestion, or injury. Alarming changes in the body:

  • frequent headache;
  • digestive disorders;
  • skin inflammation;
  • skin laxity;
  • attention deficit disorder;
  • difficulty remembering;
  • muscle and joint pain;
  • general weakness;
  • frequent constipation;
  • skin rash.

The initial stages of oxidative stress are fairly easy to treat, and you can quickly prevent the development of serious diseases. However, neglecting ailments and maintaining free radicals at a high level causes a decrease in the body’s immunity and faster skin aging.

How to avoid oxidative stress?

Oxidative stress occurs when the body lacks antioxidants. However, they can be supplied from outside. Include antioxidant-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes in your diet. Among the foods richest in antioxidants are purple, red, and orange-colored vegetables and fruits. Also worth trying are rosemary, fenugreek, turmeric, or ginger.

Important! Most of the antioxidants in raw vegetables and fruits, heat treatment reduces their content. Sometimes this is necessary, but it is better to choose boiling rather than frying.

The best dietary sources of antioxidants are berries such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, and cranberries, as well as green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, kale, and kale, which include vitamins C and E. Nuts, seeds, such as flaxseed also have an antioxidant effect.

The best sources of antioxidants

Cocoa and dark chocolate contain antioxidants that may protect against heart disease and diabetes, while green tea is rich in the antioxidant catechins, which help fight oxidative stress.

Red wine contains flavonoid antioxidants such as resveratrol, which may help protect against heart disease. It is worth noting that the substances contained in black coffee help reduce the amount of free radicals.

It is also recommended to avoid smoking, use UV blocking creams and limit exposure to environmental pollutants. Limiting alcohol intake and avoiding excessive consumption of fatty and high-calorie foods can also help reduce ROS levels in the body.

The key role is played by the reduction of nervous tension. Emotional stress should be reduced and, if possible, avoided – all this negatively affects the well-being of a person and his health. Relaxation and mindfulness techniques can be helpful. Psychologists advise learning to relieve stress.

Relaxation techniques are useful

Regular physical activity, socializing with friends, spending time in nature, reading a good book, or a relaxing massage can help. It is worth betting on regular physical activity, but at the same time you can not overstrain the body.

How do free radicals affect the epidermis?

Oxidative stress is one of the causes of dryness, irritation and hypersensitivity of the skin to external factors. Free radicals oxidize fats, including those from the epidermis, and thus the protective barrier of the skin is broken, and it becomes dry and sensitive to irritation. The collagen fibers responsible for the elasticity of the skin are damaged, the face becomes prone to wrinkles.

How to protect the skin from oxidative stress?

The use of antioxidants in cosmetics and nutritional supplements is becoming more and more popular. They are crucial for the health and beauty of the skin, reducing the damage caused by free radicals.

Use cosmetics with antioxidants during the morning so that they can fully work and protect the skin throughout the day. Depending on your preferences and skin type, you can choose a cream or serum containing antioxidants.

Be sure to choose the right cosmetics that provide deep hydration and increase skin elasticity.

The use of antioxidants in cosmetics

Vitamin E inhibits the aging process of the skin, preventing the oxidation of epidermal lipids. It is called the vitamin of youth, it has rejuvenating and moisturizing properties. Vitamin E is often found in combination with other antioxidants: vitamin C or A.

Vitamin C is one of the strongest antioxidants with a proven effect. Prevents premature aging of the skin, fights free radicals, increases the synthesis of collagen and elastin. Plus, it’s great for most skin types.

Coenzyme Q10 perfectly fights free radicals in the skin, adds energy to cells, protects against the negative effects of solar radiation, and is involved in the protection and renewal of cellular DNA. Coenzyme Q10 inhibits the process of lipid oxidation, protects against cellular hypoxia, increases the effectiveness of the protective barrier of the epidermis, improves skin firmness and elasticity.

Ferulic acid has strong antioxidant properties, protects against accelerated photoaging, and supports sun protection. In addition, ferulic acid supports the action of vitamin C in cosmetics.

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