Antioxidants are nutrients (vitamins and minerals) and enzymes (proteins) that can help prevent and repair damage to your body’s tissue caused by free radicals. Free radicals are the oxygen molecules in our body that attack the collagen fibers, cellular membrane and lipid layer of the skin. Normally, the body can handle free radicals, but if antioxidants are unavailable, or if the free-radical production becomes excessive, damage can occur.
Free radicals start the process of oxidation – a process that causes damage from oxygen that can lead to cell dysfunction. If you have seen a peeled apple turn brown, you have seen the process called oxidation. As antioxidants block the effects of free radicals, they end up being oxidized. This is why it’s important to constantly replenish your supply of antioxidants. Incorporating the right antioxidants into your diet and skin care routine can have a positive effect on your skin.
What Antioxidant-rich Foods to Use and Why
Have you ever noticed that plants seem to flourish in the hot sun, rather than burn and die from the extreme conditions? That’s because plants contain natural antioxidants to fight these harmful forces. It stands to reason then, that if we consume antioxidant rich plants and foods (the edible ones), we too, can protect ourselves from free radicals and oxidation. Research from the scientific community has demonstrated repeatedly that the antioxidants from plants help to protect us from the ravages of oxidation on our bodies. These studies involve diseases from cancer, inflammation, infections, and the effect of antioxidants on the external skin.
By delivering plant antioxidants to the cells, you can start benefiting from their protection. There are several ways to deliver antioxidants to our cells. Topically applied, they are absorbed through the skin and enter the blood system where they are distributed to the cells. However, many of these antioxidant rich sources are dark in color (the pigments tend to contain the antioxidant parts), so they can stain the skin. A more practical way to deliver antioxidants to our cells is through ingestion – drinking concentrated herbal teas, or swallowing capsules filled with antioxidants, or eating servings of the whole food. Either way, the antioxidants are all absorbed by the blood stream where they are delivered to the cells they target.
Common antioxidant plants and how they benefit the skin
|Açai Berry||Anti-inflammatory, Anti-aging|
|Amla (Indian Gooseberry)||Micro-circulation, Promotes collagen|
|Chocolate||Anti-aging, Skin health, Anti-inflammatory|
|Green & White Tea||Collagen, Energy, Immune system|
|Ginger||Micro-circulation, Digestion, Energy, Weight loss|
|Gogi Berry||Detoxification, Immune system, Well-being|
|Grape||Anti-aging, Energizing, Supports menopause|
|Lutein (marigolds)||Skin and eye health|
|Mangosteen||Stimulates skin protein, Anti-inflammatory|
|Pomegranate||Collagen, Normal pigmentation, Inhibits protein breakdown,|
|Resveratrol (grape and knotweed)||Anti-inflammatory, Anti-aging, Immune system, Supports menopause|
There are many more antioxidant-rich foods that we can incorporate in our daily diet that will benefit the skin as well as the body. Find out what the top 20 antioxidants are!
Balch, James. F., Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Nutritional Healing: Second Edition
Les Nouvelles: Esthetiques & Spa: American Edition. March 2011