Simply put, free radicals are unstable atoms! When cells use Oxygen to generate energy, free radicals are created. They can be useful for our body because they enhance the immune system and improve intercellular communication. However, excessive amounts of free radicals can lead to oxidative stress as our body only has so many lines of defence to fight against them! They end up bonding to other molecules in the body, causing proteins and other essential molecules to not function as they should. Free radicals can be formed from normal cellular functions but can also be caused by diet, exercise, stress, smoking, alcohol, UV exposure and air pollution!
What Happens To Your Skin?
Free radicals can lead to the oxidation of our skin's DNA, which can speed along the skin ageing process. Your skin can become dull and lacklustre, and in longer term this can lead to the breakdown of collagen and elastin, leaving you with more fine-lines, wrinkles and sagging skin.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
But don’t worry there are lots of ways to combat free radicals! The human body has several mechanisms to counteract oxidative stress by producing free radical scavengers known as antioxidants which are either naturally produced, or externally supplied through foods and/or supplements. Antioxidants block the destructive effects of free radicals by making them neutral and therefore stopping them from wrecking our cells. You can also boost that natural production by applying antioxidants directly on the skin. Vitamin C and E are by far the most well known antioxidants, other alternatives are Liquorice root extract, Rosemary extract and Astaxanthin, derived from algae and antioxidant peptides. Foods such as broccoli, apricots and cherries are also great at helping to reduce free radicals in the body.