Oxidative stress occurs when an oxygen molecule splits into single atoms with unpaired electrons, which are called free radicals. ... Electrons like to be in pairs, so these atoms, called free radicals, scavenge the body to seek out other electrons so they can become a pair. This causes damage to cells, proteins and DNA.
Free radicals are toxic byproducts of oxygen metabolism that can cause significant damage to living cells and tissues in a process called "oxidative stress." There are a variety of factors that can cause the skin to start aging at an accelerated rate. A big part of this premature skin aging is a result of free radical activity in the body.
Free radicals can damage the skin by trying to grab an extra electron from atoms in the skin. When atoms are taken away from molecules in the skin, it causes damage to our skin's DNA that can speed along skin aging. This is called the "free radical theory of aging." Not only does this occur in the skin, but throughout our body as well.
The majority of the skin’s free radical damage – at least 85% – is from Text Link photo-exposure (sun damage/tanning beds) and most of the remainder is from excess free radical production during intracellular energy production and digestion of food. There may be other sources in certain individuals, such as pollution for city dwellers and smoking for tobacco users, alcohol consumption, drug use, and exposure to environmental chemicals. Free radicals from all these sources will damage cells and tissues over the course of a lifetime and lead to aging. Visible aging occurs after your body's intrinsic antioxidant reserves declines and functional capacity diminishes during progressive and cumulative free radical damage.
The vitamins and minerals the body uses to counteract oxidative stress are called antioxidants.
These Antioxidant substances when used externally and taken internally help fight free-radical damage:
1. Vitamin E
(tocopherol) is an antioxidant that is present in the skin and found in various foods, such as vegetables, seeds and meat. (1) It helps the skin look younger by boosting collagen production and in turn reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and age spots. (2, 3)
Unlike other vitamins, skin derives more of its benefits from vitamin E better through topical treatments than through oral supplements. Vitamin E is available in two forms: alpha-tocopherol (alcohol-based) and alpha-tocopherol acetate. The latter does not penetrate the skin as easily, so make sure you're reading the labels closely to get maximum benefit of the vitamin E. Vitamin E in skincare products also helps Vitamin C to stay more active, and actually 'reactivate it" when it has been used up. This is why I recommend specific products with both (and other) vitamins in them.
a powerful antioxidant, is a carotenoid found in red fruits and vegetables. (4) It is, in fact, responsible for their red color. In addition to being a healthy choice for your diet, it's a great choice for improving skin texture because it promotes collagen production and reduces the DNA damage that leads to wrinkles. (5) To get the most benefit from this powerful antioxidant, you can either take a daily supplement or look for skin care products that contain it in topical formulas (lycopene is easily absorbed by the skin).
3. Green Tea
has become one of the new age food heroes -- a helpful ally in preventing everything from heart disease and cancer to skin aging and weight gain. The full range of heath benefits may take decades to define, but research on its impact on human skin is reasonably well developed. The secret ingredients are chemicals called catechins, which are antioxidants that can clear cell damage on the skin and repair wrinkles, blemishes or other impurities. (6) When applied to the skin, green tea can reduce sun damage by reducing inflammation and tackling free radicals. (7) (It doesn't block UV rays.) When choosing a tea, its helpful to know that green tea has over five times the amount of catechins as black tea. (8)
4. Coffee Berry
As an ingredient in anti-aging formulas, coffee berry prevents collagen damage, reduces wrinkles and protects the skin against damage. (9) It also has anti-inflammatory properties (10), which can lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, leading to more youthful looking skin.
The antioxidant resveratrol is compound that is commonly found in grapes, nuts, fruits, and red wine, among others. (11) Separate studies have shown that when topically applied, resveratrol protects against UVB-mediated cutaneous damage and inhibits UVB-mediated oxidative stress. (12-14)
6. Grape Seed
is extracted from vitis vinifera and is rich in proanthocyanidins, which belong to the flavonoid family. Proanthocyanidins are potent antioxidants with strong free radical scavenging activities. (15) Grape seed extract has been shown to be an even stronger scavenger of free radicals than vitamins C and E. (16)
is an isoflavone derived from soybeans with the capacity to inhibit UV-induced oxidative DNA damage. (17) Genistein, either topically applied or orally supplemented, was shown to effectively protect human skin against UVB-induced skin photodamage. Genistein is not recommended for everyone. Please consult with me why genistein may not be advisable for you.
(vitamin B3) is a powerful antioxidant that has shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory and depigmenting properties. It has also shown to improve the texture and tone of the skin, as well as reduce fine lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. It may also lessen production of over-oil production. (18)
9. Vitamin C
(L-ascorbic acid is only one form of many types of Vitamin C) is an essential nutrient that can only come from the healthy fruits and vegetables that contain it. Vitamin C is usually touted for its cold-fighting power, but it's also for its impact on preventing and reversing aging skin.
It works in many ways: as an antioxidant, as well as a booster of collagen formation, helps to minor degree to reduce sun damage & brighten skin tone, and helps skin heal -- all of which are important to preserving and maintaining skin's youthful appearance. (19-21) Skinplicity carries 3 different kinds of topical Vitamin C for all types of skin conditions.
1. Nachbar F, Korting HC. The role of vitamin E in normal and damaged skin. J Mol Med 73(1):7-17 (1995 Jan).
2. Mayer P. The effects of vitamin E on the skin. Cosmet Toiletries 108:99 (1993).
3. Chung JH, Seo JY, Lee MK, et al. Ultraviolet Modulation of Human Macrophage Metalloelastase in Human Skin In Vivo. J Invest Dermatol 119(2):507-12 (2002 Aug).
4. Britton G. Structure and properties of carotenoids in relation to function. FASEB J 9(15):1551-8 (1995 Dec).
6. Ehrlich, Steven D. "Green Tea" University of Maryland Medical Center. Web.
7. Elmets CA, Singh D, Tubesing K, et al. Cutaneous photoprotection from ultraviolet injury by green tea polyphenols. J Am Acad Dermatol 44(3):425-32 (2001 Mar).
8. Lu QY, Jin YS, Pantuck A, Zhang ZF, Heber D, Belldegrun A, Brooks M, Figlin R, Rao J. Green tea extract modulates actin remodeling via Rho activity in an in vitro multistep carcinogenic model. Clin Cancer Res. 2005 Feb 15;11(4):1675-83. (2005.)
10. Farris P. Idebenone, green tea, and CoffeeBerry41. ® extract: new and innovative antioxidants. Dermatol Ther 20(5):322-9 (2007 Sep-Oct).
11. Afaq F, Adhami VM, Ahmad N. Prevention of short-term ultraviolet B radiation-mediated damages by resveratrol in SKH-1 hairless mice. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 186(1):28-37 (2003 Jan).
12. Aziz MH, Afaq F, Ahmad N. Prevention of ultraviolet-B radiation damage by resveratrol in mouse skin is mediated via modulation in survivin. Photochem Photobiol 81(1):25-31 (2005 Jan-Feb).
13. Aziz MH, Reagan-Shaw S, Wu J, et al. Chemoprevention of skin cancer by grape constituent resveratrol: relevance to human disease? FASEB J 19(9):1193-5 (2005 Jul).
14. Adhami VM, Afaq F, Ahmad N. Suppression of ultraviolet B exposure-mediated activation of NF-kappaB in normal human keratinocytes by resveratrol. Neoplasia 5(1):74-82 (2003 Jan-Feb)
15. Vinson JA, Dabbagh YA, Serry MM, et al. Plant flavonoids, especially tea flavonols, are powerful antioxidants using an in-vitro oxidation model for heart disease. J Agric Food Chem 43:2800-2 (1995).
16. Bagchi D, Bagchi M, Stohs SJ, et al. Free radicals and grape seed proanthocyanidin extract: importance in human health and disease prevention. Toxicology 148(2-3):187-97 (2000 Aug).
17. Wei H, Cai Q, Rahn RO. Inhibition of UV light- and Fenton reaction-induced oxidative DNA damage by the soybean isoflavone genistein. Carcinogenesis 17:73-7 (1996).
18. Bissett DL, Oblong JE, Berge CA. Niacinamide: a B vitamin that improves aging facial skin appearance. Dermatol Surg 31(7 Pt 2):860-5 (2005 Jul).
19. Burke KE. Interaction of vitamins C and E as Better Cosmeceuticals. Dermatol Ther 20(5):314-21 (2007 Sep-Oct).
20. Traikovich SS. Use of topical ascorbic acid and its effects on photodamaged skin topography. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 125(10):1091-8 (1999 Oct).
21. Geesin JC, Darr D, Kaufman R, et al. Ascorbic acid specifically increases type I and type III procollagen messenger RNA levels in human skin fibroblast. J Invest Dermatol 90(4):420-4 (1988 Apr).
"You’ll often hear me talk about eating foods that are high in antioxidants, one of many reasons a colorful diet is beneficial to good health.
I get many questions, though, about why that really matters. So, today I’m going to break down the concept of antioxidants and how oxidation works in the body, to help you understand just how essential antioxidant-rich foods are.
To get the basic gist of the oxidative process, think about the way metal rusts or how an apple will turn brown once it’s cut. These are signs of degeneration; these are visual cues of oxidation, which are helpful for understanding what can happen internally when left unchecked.
It’s important to note that oxidation is a natural process that happens in the body each and every day as a basic part of metabolism, but certain things can accelerate it—like smoking, drinking alcohol, pollution, stress, and eating processed foods rich in the wrong fats and refined carbohydrates. These all create a greater risk for inflammation and dis-ease.
The concept of oxidation starts at the molecular level. For a molecule to be stable, it has to have an even amount of electrons. When molecules lose an electron, they become a free radical. This can happen when they are exposed to pro-oxidants, which are reactive oxygen or nitrogen derived molecules that are natural byproducts of energy production but can also come from the harmful factors I mentioned above.
Since electrons like to stick together in pairs, these free radicals with an uneven amount of electrons go on the hunt for another one—causing a dangerous chain reaction that turns other molecules into free radicals. Considering that free radicals can damage cells, proteins, lipids, and DNA, which damage different tissues throughout the body, it’s easy to understand why they are so dangerous.
The body, with all of its amazing capabilities, of course has a system in place to deal with free radicals.
This is where antioxidants come into play, some of which our bodies produce as part of normal metabolic processes and others we can get through wholesome foods. Endogenous antioxidants (those produced within the body) can be in the form of nutrients or enzymes, with enzymes requiring the right vitamins and minerals to do their job.
Problems arise when the free radicals outnumber the body’s ability to quell them; this imbalance is called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is linked to inflammation, accelerated aging, cancer, dementia, and a wide variety of other chronic diseases. This is why eating a diet rich in antioxidants is an important part of disease prevention.
Remember how I mentioned that free radicals have an uneven number of electrons, but that molecules prefer to have pairs? Well, some types of antioxidants can step in to give those molecules one of their extra electrons, to neutralize the free radical and halt the damaging cascade, which they can do without becoming a free radical themselves. Other antioxidants, those that act enzymaticly, can break down and remove free radicals.
There are so many different types of nutrients that directly act as antioxidants and support those beneficial enzymes, like vitamins A, C, E, selenium, copper, and zinc.
Eating nutrient-dense foods helps to fight oxidative stress by giving those protective enzymes the right fuel and supporting the body’s natural ability to recycle antioxidants.
This is the perfect example of food as medicine—through colorful, nourishing foods we are able to give our bodies the right ingredients to fight disease and stay strong. Stay tuned for next week’s newsletter; I’ll be sharing some of my favorite antioxidant-rich foods and tips for reducing the risk of oxidative stress."
Mark Hyman, MD - The Broken Brain
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