If like most people you want smooth, healthy skin, and are constantly keeping an eye out for the next ‘miracle’ product, you could be missing out on something much easier, cheaper and closer to home.
Incorporating the right antioxidants into your diet and skin care routine can have a positive effect on your skin.
Antioxidants are nutrients (vitamins and minerals) and enzymes (proteins inside your body) that can help to prevent and repair damage to all your body’s tissue. They do this by slowing or preventing the effect of free radicals, which start oxidation — a process that causes damage from oxygen that can lead to cell membrane damage. If you’ve seen a peeled apple turn brown, you’ve seen oxidation in action. As antioxidants block the effects of free radicals, they too end up being oxidised! This is why it’s important to constantly replenish your supply of antioxidants.
If you are unsure what free radicals are, think of a number that cannot be divided equally by another number and leaves a ‘remainder’, the ‘remainder’ in this example is the by-product of chemical reactions, that the body can normally deal with. However, if antioxidants are unavailable, or free radical production becomes excessive, then cellular damage can occur affecting the appearance of the skin. They may also play a role in heart disease, cancer and other conditions. Contributing environmental factors that produce excess free radicals are pollution, radiation, herbicides and cigarette smoke. Free radicals also accumulate with age.
When it comes to caring for your skin, antioxidants can help to protect your skin from the damaging effects of the sun. Unlike sunscreens and moisturisers, antioxidants can protect your skin from the inside out by guarding your cells from damage. Vitamins A, C and E and the mineral selenium are thought to be particularly helpful in skin care. In addition to helping fortify cells against free radicals, vitamins A and C also encourage cell and tissue growth, helping the body to repair itself. This is very helpful to the skin, which is constantly shedding and re-growing cells. For this reason, any antioxidants that protect cells and encourage cell growth could be helpful in an anti-aging regime, as they may help fight fine lines and wrinkles.
Rather than supplement with antioxidants, it’s far better to meet your body’s quota for antioxidants with a healthy and balanced diet, so make sure you get at least 5-8 servings of fresh vegetables and fruit a day to save your skin.
- Beta-carotene (vitamin A) – pumpkin, mangoes, apricots, carrots, spinach and parsley.
- Flavonoids – tea, green tea, citrus fruits, red wine, onion and apples.
- Lutein – leafy greens like spinach, and corn.
- Lycopene – tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon.
- Polyphenols – thyme and oregano.
- Selenium – seafood, offal, lean meat and whole grains.
- Vitamin C – oranges, blackcurrants, kiwi fruit, mangoes, broccoli, spinach, capsicum and strawberries.
- Vitamin E- vegetable oils (such as wheatgerm oil), avocados, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
- Zinc – seafood, lean meat, milk and nuts.
- CoQ10 - oily fish, eg salmon, trout, mackerel, wholegrains
- Glutathione – avocados, asparagus, squash, potatoes, cauliflower, oranges, strawberries, melon, fresh peaches, broccoli and raw tomatoes