Aging and Oxidation
Almost all the processes that cause your skin to €œage€ stem from oxidation. The vast majority of these processes occur because your skin has been exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Ultraviolet light creates €œfree radicals€ in your skin cells. These are extremely reactive chemicals that zap the first things they come in contact with, even if that’s the DNA in your skin cells’ chromosomes, or the tender walls of your skin cells. The result can be mutation or even death for a cell.
Skin naturally contains a host of antioxidants’substances such as vitamins A, C, and E, and coenzyme Q’that stop this damaging process in its tracks. These antioxidants neutralize free radicals, protecting your skin from the ravages of sunlight-induced aging. The problem, however, is that we expose ourselves to immeasurably more sunlight than our skin’s natural antioxidants are capable of neutralizing. Exposure often is greatest when we are children. In fact, many scientists believe most of the cellular damage that lays the groundwork for wrinkled, sagging, €œaged€ skin in late middle age occurs by the time most of us are eighteen years old!
Even with excessive sun exposure in your past, you can prevent and treat the effects of aging on your skin. Recent advances in medical research have revealed a host of ways by which you can counter the challenges of UV-induced oxidation. Use of antioxidants underpins all other treatments in the successful battle to reverse the damage your skin has accumulated over the years.
The first step in preventing age damage and reversing existing aging starts with a good diet. Skin must be replenished from within to lay the foundation for all other treatments. Key components of a healthy diet:
* Eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables and red and yellow vegetables
* Increase your consumption of whole grains and nuts
* Cook with vegetable (preferably olive) oil
* Eat lots of fruit
Only by consuming proper amounts of these foods can your body obtain sufficient levels of vitamins A, C, and E, as well as many other antioxidants.
Also, commit to keeping out of the sun. Wear broad-brimmed hats and wrap-around sunglasses that screen out UV. Also use appropriate sunscreen for your face and body. A broad-spectrum sunscreen that explicitly says it protects against UVA is the best, as the €œA€ spectrum of ultraviolet light creates oxidative €œfree radicals.€
High-end skin treatments with scientifically design formulations contain the same natural antioxidants you’ll find in a healthy diet, with deep penetration into your skin. Between what you apply directly to your skin and what your bloodstream supplies from what you’ve eaten, your skin can begin not only to prevent further damage, but even undo past damage.
The principle of supplying €œreinforcements€ to your skin both from within and from surface applications goes beyond vitamins. Recent research has shown that several natural polyphenols in green tea are effective in preventing UV-induced inflammation as well as in preventing mutations created by UV. And these substances are effective both when you drink green tea and when you apply them to your skin in certain formulations that permit optimum absorption. The same holds true for phytic acid, a powerful antioxidant occurring naturally in whole grains, nuts, and legumes. This acid’s antioxidant and even anticancer activities appear to be effective not only when you consume healthful amounts of whole grains, etc., but also when the substance is regularly applied, in appropriate formulations, to the skin.
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