Antioxidants in Literature are one of the solutions to get rid of naturally produced free radicals.
Well known natural antioxidants can be attained from well-planned diets, that include various fruits and vegetables. Herbal teas like rooibos, green tea, honey bush, spices such cayenne pepper, ginger, turmeric, pepper, cinnamon and others are also known as sources of natural antioxidants.
As explained, there are two main sources of free radicals.
- External Sources: The industrial environment that pollutes the air that we breath, the water we use, petrochemical fumes, ultraviolet rays from the sun and pesticide sprays and products to name a few.
- Internal Sources: Breathing, turning oxygen into carbon dioxide, food and minerals into waste, water into urine, drugs into waste, as well as exposure to household cleaning products and pets control.
Man and animal are exposed to 1) external sources of free radicals, as explained in External Free Radicals in Bentonite Clay, as well as self-produced free radicals which will be explained now.
To keep man and animal healthy, as well as restraining the physical body and its organs from early aging, the Immune system needs to defend the body every second from the dangers of free radicals. Not only from the external environment, but also from the body as a living cell itself, producing its own free radicals.
It is the immune systems of man and animal and its functional fitness, its ability as a body defense system that able the body to deal with harmful free radicals.
Free radicals will be explained in depth in (3). What we do know will be explained in (2) and the limits and questions of what we don’t know, in (3) as well.
- Free Radicals Destroy Living Cells
Media portrays many times pictures of Hollywood stars and how they age over the years. In shock admirers of these movie stars stare in disbelief at the human factor in the aging of these actors, not believing how some of these people are ageing in time.
Scientific studies on rats prove the natural phenomenon of aging. It shows that rats produce a significant number more of free radicals when they naturally age. These natural age related modifications of their bodies, also match the age-related illnesses associated with ageing rats.
- Research on rats in independent studies indicates that free radicals produced in the mitochondria (the little engine of each and every living cell), is also the engine that damages the elements in the cell that keeps it alive, rejuvenated and functional.
- Therefore in skin and health care, the focus should be on the health and abilities of the mitochondria, the little machine that is rejuvenating the body’s DNA, the telomeres, those parts of chromosomes in our bodies that controls aging and have links to various diseases and long life.
This damage causes mutations that produce more free radicals. In effect rushing the process of skin aging and or skin damage as free radicals cause cells to turn against themselves.
In effect it means that the cell turns against its own organs in the cell, which are the machines that must rejuvenate and revitalise the cells in skin repairing and skin growth. The reverse effect of skin growth damage cell walls, the little engines in each and every cell that revitalise cell growth, the mitochondria, the glue between cells, collagen, shortening telomeres that are critical to cell growth and cell reconstruction, as well the function of other critical cell structures.
If left untreated, or without proper care by guessing being misled with make believe or brand marketing products, the gradual and increasingly build-up of free radicals explains why healthy bodies age in many unwanted ways and rapidly deteriorate at some point in time.
Although free radicals are produced naturally in the body, lifestyle factors as well as external factors from outside can also accelerate free radical production in skin cells. Especially when harvested by oily or water based substrates applied on the skin to hide acne marks, pores and wrinkle’s.
These free radicals include:
- exposure to toxic chemicals, such as pesticides and air pollution, petro-chemicals
- fried foods
- sunburn damaging the skin DNA
Above mentioned lifestyle factors have also been linked to diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
The term “Oxidative stress” will explain why exposure to these substances can causes many types of diseases.
- Antioxidants and free radicals
The Media portray thousands of products selling the solutions to anti-aging and detoxing harmful elements from the human body. Products sells as if they are the only of the answer to the elimination of free radicals as well as the reversing of its harmful effects.
The truth is, it is only a healthy and well cared immune system, supported by the genetic qualities of the individual that brings real solutions to the individual body and skin health. No two persons are the same. True health and skin care can also only progress reactively within the reality of the effects of aging, given that the individual is actively protected his/her health with testable knowledge of what does cause individual aging and illnesses.
Antioxidants are molecules in food sources that prevents the oxidation of other molecules in the body that lessen or prevent the effects of free radicals.
How antioxidants function
- Antioxidants donate an electron to a free radical, thereby reducing its harmful possible reactivity.
- Antioxidants are unique in the sense that they can donate an electron to a free radical, without becoming a free radical itself.
- Antioxidants act as scavengers, stealing electrons from free radicals and in the process helps to prevent cell and tissue damage, that could lead to cellular damage and disease.
Be not be misled
- No single antioxidant can combat the effects of every free radical.
- Free radicals have different effects in different areas of the body.
- Every antioxidant behaves differently due to its chemical properties.
Antioxidant foods and supplements
Many foods are rich in antioxidants. Berries, citrus fruits, and many other fruits are rich in vitamin C, while carrots are known for their high beta-carotene content. The soy found in soybeans and some meat substitutes are high in phytoestrogens.
The goodness of antioxidants in foods have inspired many health experts to recommend antioxidant-rich diets. Also did the “Antioxidant theory of Aging” led many Health Companies to push sales of antioxidant supplements.
The ill-understanding and the ill-use of antioxidants can also be harmful. Antioxidants are able to into “Pro-oxidants”. This means when antioxidants are used without understanding what it must do, an antioxidant can turn into a pro-oxidant.
It will then search and link to electrons from other molecules, resulting in chemical instabilities that will lead to oxidative stresses of sorts.
Thousands of chemicals can act as antioxidants. Vitamins C, and E, glutathione, beta-carotene, and plant oestrogens called phytoestrogens are well known antioxidants.
Research on antioxidants are mixed.
Studies suggest that antioxidants cannot “cure” the effects of free radicals, especially those antioxidants coming from artificial sources.
What we do know is the following;
- That we need much more data to understand the real problem of free radicals
- Antioxidants neutralize free radicals by donating one of their own electrons, ending the electron-“stealing” reaction.
- Free radicals are an early sign of cells fighting (immune system) a possible disease or aging
- Free radical formation is inevitable with age.
The Role of Vitamins C and E
- Vitamin E does not turn into a free radical when donating an electron
- Vitamin E is also the most abundant fat-soluble antioxidant in the body.
- Vitamin E is known as one of the most efficient chain-breaking antioxidants available.
- Vitamin E is also known as the primary defender against oxidation
- Vitamin E is the primary defender against lipid peroxidation (creation of unstable molecules containing more oxygen than is usual).
- Vitamin E may protect against cardiovascular disease by defending against LDL oxidation and artery-clogging plaque formation.
- Vitamin C is the most abundant water-soluble antioxidant in the body and acts primarily in cellular fluid.
- Vitamin C is also known for combating free-radical formation caused by external pollution and cigarette smoke.
- Also helps return vitamin E to its active form.
- Many studies have correlated high vitamin C intakes with low rates of cancer, particularly cancers of the mouth, larynx and esophagus.
- Literature suggest that antioxidants are believed to help protect the body from free-radical damage. But be warned, the solution is not mega-doses of these vitamins as more is not always better and might turn against your body in.
- The long-term effect of large doses of these nutrients has not been proven. Other chemicals and substances found in natural sources of antioxidants may also be responsible for the beneficial effects. So for now, the best way to ensure adequate intake of the antioxidant nutrients is through a balanced diet consisting of 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.