I am obsessed with skin and I'm constantly looking for ways to protect it from any damage. Better go the extra mile now and save on the Botox later, right? The problem is that even when you wear sunscreen regularly and your Sundriven scarf (of course), although you are protected from sun damage, you are still exposed to damages caused by free radicals. Free radicals cause oxidative damage to the body and come from smoking, pollution, fried foods, etc.. Free radical damage can change the instructions coded in a strand of DNA (Harvard School of Public Health, n.d.) Basically, they're horrible for you and they're everywhere.
So what's a girl got to do?
Well, first of all, do not smoke (seriously, don't, it's just not worth it) and try to avoid fried food as much as you can (KFC is definitely not your friend). But what else? The good news is that there is a way to neutralize those free radicals. The even better news is that is all-natural, cheap, and just in your kitchen! What am I talking about? Antioxidants, of course!
What is an Antioxidant?
An antioxidant is any chemical that can neutralize a free radical and make it harmless. Experts at Harvard define antioxidants as the following:
There are hundreds, probably thousands, of different substances that can act as antioxidants. The most familiar ones are vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and other related carotenoids, etc. But using the term “antioxidant” to refer to substances is misleading. It is really a chemical property, namely, the ability to act as an electron donor. Some substances that act as antioxidants in one situation may be prooxidants—electron grabbers—in a different chemical milieu. (Source: Harvard School of Public Health)According to Dr Jessica Wu, acclaimed celebrity dermatologist, if you eat mostly food with minimal antioxidant benefits (such as dairy, meat, processed foods), your body can't recover from free radical damage as quickly or efficiently. It is essential you load up on antioxidant-rich fruit and veggies of various kinds. Don't just stick to a few, diversify! Indeed, according to those awesome Harvard experts:
Another big misconception is that antioxidants are interchangeable. They aren’t. Each one has unique chemical behaviors and biological properties. They almost certainly evolved as parts of elaborate networks, with each different substance (or family of substances) playing slightly different roles. This means that no single substance can do the work of the whole crowd. (Source: Harvard School of Public Health)
So stock up on those fruits and veggies ladies! Now of course, I'm not saying you should eat only antioxidants- make sure you get a healthy amount of everything your body needs. But supplementing your beauty regimen with a diet rich in antioxidants will help you prevent age spots, wrinkling, dark spots, and even UV damage! Yep, you heard me, you can eat your way to sun protection!
Here are some of the most popular and most common sources of edible antioxidants...
Now I hate the word "superfood" (because there is no such thing- it's not like the magic potion in Asterix and Obelix), but there are some foods that have more benefits than others. Here's a list of foods that will get your started on your anti-oxidant diet.
image source: bellybytes.com
- leafy greens (spinach, kale, arugula, roquette, etc.)
- yellow-orange vegetables and fruits (carrots, butternut squash, oranges, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, etc.)
Beta-Carotene is quickly converted into vitamin A inside the body. It is often thought of as a form of vitamin A itself (WebMD, n.d.). In addition to being an antioxidant, it is boosts your immunity and is great for your vision! And for all of you who love being tan,according to Dr. Susan Stuart, a board-certified dermatologist in San Diego, eating lots of fruits and vegetables that are yellow or orange in color can give you a natural tan (Oliver, 2013)!
- red fruits and vegetables (think watermelon, tomatoes, grapefruit, red peppers, grapefruit, etc.)
Lycopene is probably the most powerful of all antioxidants: It blocks the sun damaging effects of UV rays and helps prevent sunburn and skin cancer. Make sure you eat lots of it before a day at the beach or a hike!
- nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, etc.)
- green leafy vegetables
- whole grains
I'm so happy because this has given me a reason to enjoy guacamole even more (mmmmmmm <3): It has lemons, tomatoes, avocado- all the good stuff. Nuts are a really good snack to have, and much better than eating junk from the vending machine.
- berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc.)
- tea (green, black, or white. Not herbal unfortunately.)
- dark chocolate
- WINE ❤
Strawberries covered in melted dark chocolate with a glass of wine? ummm- yes, please!
- citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, etc.)
- brussel sprouts
source: livestrong.comAscorbic Acid is also known as Vitamin C. According to the University of Maryland:
You need vitamin C for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. It helps the body make collagen, an important protein used to make skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is needed for healing wounds, and for repairing and maintaining bones and teeth. (University of Maryland, n.d.)
Why not start your day with a fruit salad made with oranges, kiwi, and strawberries to get your daily dose of vitamin C?
There you have it, a little start up kit to eat your way to better skin. I hope this was helpful. There's a huge amount of literature out there about the topic, but if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us!
Author: May Jabado
*Please click on the links throughout the post for the original sources I used!*