Can you be free of ‘Free Radicals’? – The theory of ‘Aging’
Absolutely everything in the world, from human beings to the air around us, is made of molecules. Molecules are made of atoms and atoms are made of pairs of electrons. But when an atom is missing an electron, that’s when we talk about free radicals.
The major sources of free radicals include:
- Ordinary body functions, such as breathing and digestion
- Exposure to radiation
- Exposure to other environmental pollutants
- Consumption of cigarettes or tobacco, drugs, and alcohol
- Certain medications or high use of antibiotics, which leads to antibiotic resistance
- A poor diet that includes foods like unhealthy fats, too much sugar, pesticides, herbicides or synthetic additives. Many processed and refined foods contain oxidized fats that add free radicals to the body. Excessive amounts of sugar and sweeteners are other sources of free radical growth that contribute to aging, weight gain and inflammation.
- Even too much exercise generates added free radicals
- High amounts of emotional or physical stress. Stress hormones (like too much cortisol) can generate free radicals.
How does Free Radicals damage Skin ?
Free radicals can damage the skin by trying to grab an extra electron from atoms in the skin. Once a free radical succeeds in gaining an electron from a nearby molecule, it leaves its victim short an electron. This interaction has now made the new molecule a free radical, causing a massive chain reaction where cells function poorly or die. This is called “oxidative stress”. When free radicals damage or kill enough cells in an organism, guess what happens. It ages!
Free radicals can damage our skin cells, DNA, and collagen production. We produce some internally as cell turnover, but the rest come from external threats like UV rays and pollution. Over time, the effect in our skin shows up as wrinkles, sagging, and roughness.
What does this have to do with hair?
Hair is not comprised of living cells, but its keratin-based structures are still susceptible to oxidative damage from a wide variety of sources. This damage leads to the following:
- Split ends & Broken hairs
- Rough cuticles
- Frizzy ,tangled hair
- Lack of luster/ Loss of Colour
- Diminished curl retention
While it is well-established that antioxidants are highly efficacious both when taken internally and applied to the skin via cosmetic preparations, it is natural to speculate whether or not they have equal value when applied topically to the hair, which is not a living cellular structure. Fortunately, the evidence indicates that there is plenty of benefit to be derived from the inclusion of antioxidants as components in formulations for rinse-off products, leave-in conditioners, and styling agents for hair.
Antioxidants – The “self-sacrificing soldiers”
Antioxidants counteract free radicals because they’re essentially ‘self-sacrificing soldiers’. They donate an electron to the free radicals to “calm” them down and are consumed in the process. Antioxidants terminate the chain reaction before vital molecules are damaged. Antioxidants also boost immunity, delay skin aging and protect against sun damage. It almost works as an internal sunscreen for your body.
Our bodies use antioxidants to lessen the impact of free radicals, and our diets give us the tools to do so. Some of the most important antioxidants are:
- Vitamins C and E and Selenium
- Coenzyme Q10
- Retinoic Acid
- Flavonoids (Green Tea and Chocolate)
Although there are several systems within the body that combat free radicals, the body’s natural defenses are not sufficient at combating signs of aging alone; therefore, these powerful micronutrients must be supplied through diet or applied directly to the skin or scalp.
Antioxidants slow down and prevent the effect of free radicals that start oxidation that can lead to cell dysfunction. While we can never entirely stop the aging process, as diet high in antioxidant foods helps us age much more gracefully — living longer, healthier, more vibrant lives.
Antioxidants are found in many different types of foods. Your body can benefit from consuming these nutrients-rich foods several times a week.
- Vitamin A can be found in vegetables and fruits such as carrots, pumpkin and mango.
- Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits or vegetables such as kale and tomatoes.
- Vitamin E can be found in nuts, seeds and oils.
- Selenium is found in proteins like red meat, chicken, pork and eggs.
It’s best to ask your dermatologist for advice before buying vitamin or antioxidant for your skin and hair because it’s important to know exactly how much of these vitamins and antioxidants are in strong enough concentrations, and in the correct forms, to remain stable and to be effective.
It’s also Important that we take our regular antioxidant supplements after the age of 25 to fight free radicals. Whatever we eat is not completely absorbed by the body, hence supplementation is the key.