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What are antioxidants and how do they help my skin

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Heard of antioxidants, but not sure exactly how they help your skin? We take a closer look at the links between skin and so-called ‘superfoods’.

What are antioxidants and how do they help my skin

What are antioxidants, and how do they help fight free radical damage?

A general term encompassing several groups of organic molecules, antioxidants are the skin’s first line of defence against free radical damage. While they’re found in several prominent food groups, such as berries and leafy greens, antioxidants also occur naturally in the skin. But what really goes on beneath the skin’s surface when antioxidants come into play?

external factors are linked to
80%of premature cutaneous aging

Broadly speaking, antioxidants help to fight skin damage linked to external factors in our environment, such as UV rays - linked to 80% of premature cutaneous aging. They do this by halting a phenomenon known as free radical damage, which is triggered by these factors and has been shown to accelerate visible signs of aging. Essentially, antioxidant-rich foods help slow the spread of these oxidizing free radicals, reinforcing the antioxidants already present within the skin to fight against free radicals.

Where can I find antioxidants in my diet?

Antioxidant-based skincare is a growing phenomenon, but it’s important to ensure your diet contains enough of them. Foods rich in antioxidants are noted for their anti-aging properties, particularly when it comes to combating the effects of UV-related stress.[1] Carrots, for example, are rich in an antioxidant known as betacarotene. Once digested, this pigment is transformed into Vitamin A, which is essential for collagen production.[2]

Another antioxidant, lycopene, found in tomatoes, has been proven to help reduce inflammation linked to sunburn.[3] Finally, research has shown that another type of antioxidant, polyphenols (found in dark chocolate and grapes, among other ingredients) can help improve cardiovascular function, boosting circulation.[4]

[1] http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/healthy-eating/a10835/antioxidants-and-oxidative-stress/
[2] Novo, R., Azevedo, P., Minicucci, M. et al, ‘Effect of Beta-Carotene on Oxidative Stress and Expression of Cardiac Connexin 43’ in Arquivos brasileiros de cardiologia 101.3 (2013), pp. 233-239 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4032303/]
[3] Story, E., Kopec, R. et al, ‘An Update on the Health Effects of Tomato Lycopene’ in Annual Review of Food Science and Technology (2010) [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3850026/]
[4] Huang WY, Davidge ST, Wu J. ‘Bioactive natural constituents from food sources-potential use in hypertension prevention and treatment’ in Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 53.6 (2013)  pp. 615-30. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2010.550071.

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