What Exactly Are Antioxidants and Why Should We Care?
Antioxidants: A term we’ve heard before, but probably can’t properly define. Until now. Antioxidants are compounds that prevent cell damage. Simple enough. Here’s why we should care. Oxidants are free radicals; these molecules occur naturally in the body and in the environment, and too many of them are bad for our cells…and our skin. Our body produces oxidants to fight off viruses, but we’re also exposed to them by environmental factors like pollution and cigarette smoke. You know how fruit begins to brown after awhile? That’s oxidation. Basically it’s a break down of cells, which can lead to disease, illness, and premature aging of the skin, hence the power (and name) of anti-oxidants.
Our bodies also naturally produce antioxidants to neutralize the presence of oxidants and keep everything in balance. If only it were all that easy. More likely than not though, our body’s count of oxidants outnumbers antioxidants. (Insert eye-roll here.) The good news is that there are plenty of foods high in antioxidants that we’re probably already binging on. “Superfoods” are packed with antioxidants, as are plant-based foods. Apples, grapes, blueberries, nuts, dark leafy greens, green tea, coffee, dark chocolate (yes!), and wine (yes, yes!) are all antioxidant-rich. An added bonus, antioxidant-rich foods are also anti-inflammatory. (Fun fact: fruit skins are packed with antioxidants, consider eating fruit, skin and all).
We’ve heard it before, you are what you eat. All of this is why an antioxidant-laden diet is beneficial for keeping our cells healthy to fight off diseases, but also to protect our dermis, starting from the inside.
Consider using skincare and beauty products formulated to aid in preventing external oxidant damage. These products work by forming protective barriers, or shields, to safeguard the skin from free radicals lurking around in the atmosphere. And if your diet is less than perfect, consider an antioxidant supplement, but don’t overdo it; too much of a good thing can also be… not so good.