Free Radicals (FR) are unstable oxygen molecules that only have one electron instead of two. These molecules then become Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), which are generated by pollution, cigarette smoke, biochemical reactions and the biggest one: sun exposure. UV radiation is one of the major creators of FR.
Free Radicals also induce cell damage such as protein degradation, DNA mutation and lipoperoxidation. By inducing skin damage, this results in accelerated aging -which gives the appearance of dull complexions or wrinkles -pigmentation disorder and inflammation. FR can also cause cancer by changing the RNA and DNA (genetic material) of the cell.
There are natural ways the body can neutralize free radicals, and this occurs via the cell self-defence system. This can be through antioxidants produced by cells (enzymes such as catalase, SOD and glutathione, etc) or assisted through a food diet high in vitamins, polyphenols, flavonoids, etc.
How to fight free radicals
For preventative care, step up the sun protection. Follow the mantra slip, slop and slap. Slip on a t-shirt. Slop on sunscreen – and make sure you apply it regularly! Then slap on a hat.
Antioxidants play a huge part in fighting free radicals. They are so important in the fight against aging because antioxidants provides a free radical with the extra electron the stabilize it, thereby stopping the damage occurring.
For post-sun damage care, ensure you are well moisturised. Use lotions and creams that have one (if not all) of the following antioxidants: vitamins E, A and C; green tea; pomegranate; lipoic acid.
Another helpful way is to make sure you are eating a healthy diet with items that include high amounts of antixoidants.
Food items known for high antioxidant amounts include blueberries, blackberries, prunes, raspberries and strawberries. Kidney beans, artichokes and pecans also contain high amounts.