There’s much talk out there about the damage free radicals can inflict on our skin and the benefits of antioxidants, both internally and topically. You’ve got the gist that free radicals are bad and antioxidants are good. But do you really have a grasp on the situation?
And how does inflammation fit into all of this?
Let’s start at the beginning and break it all down for you, and tie it all in together.
- Atoms are the building blocks of everything. They’re made up of tiny protons (that hold a positive [+] charge) and neutrons in their center, while electrons (that hold a negative [-] charge) rotating in orbits around the outside.
- Attaching more than one atom together creates a molecule. It can take hundreds to thousands of atoms to make up things like DNA, proteins, and fats.
- Chemical reactions in the body constantly rearrange the molecules by breaking them apart into smaller pieces (with less atoms), or combining them into larger molecules (with more atoms). This can be the result of metabolism of sugars, fatty acids, and amino acids. During this process, protons and electrons must be evenly paired overall to zero out the molecule’s charge, creating a stable molecule.
- When something happens to cause an oxygen molecule to inadvertently lose an electron, the result is a free radical. It’s missing an electron, so it’s constantly searching for another one to take its place. The splitting is called oxidation. The free radical will travel through the body, scouring for an electron it can take. Free radicals are unstable, electrically charged molecules that can react with other molecules (like your DNA) and damage them. If you’ve ever seen rust on a railing or watched an apple turn brown after you’ve cut it, you’re witnessing oxidation in action.
How Bad Are Free Radicals?
Free radicals have been linked to numerous diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. They’re implicated in the skin’s aging process, which has been defined as a gradual accumulation of free radical damage, according to Christopher Wanjek, the Bad Medicine columnist for Live Science.
The food we eat, medicines we take, air we breathe, and water we drink all contain substances that generate free radicals, according to Huntington’s Outreach Project for Education at Stanford University. These can include pesticides and air pollutants, tobacco smoke, alcohol, and fried foods!
Free radicals are also the natural byproducts of chemical processes like metabolism. Dr. Lauri Wright, a registered dietitian and an assistant professor of nutrition at the University of South Florida says, “Basically, I think of free radicals as waste products from various chemical reactions in the cell that when built up, harm the cells of the body.”
Free radicals chip away at your cell walls and at your DNA. As they continue to harm your cells, they eventually cause their death. This process occurs throughout your body and in every organ. It is a natural and normal process, however, if it is not tamed and controlled then the aging process and other side effects can occur more rapidly.
What Role Does Inflammation Play?
Aging and/or environmental stress may enhance this oxidative stress and may also lead to chronic inflammation, which can further exacerbate damage. Inflammation is the body’s way of initiating healing responses, but inflammation that is unregulated can result in excessive free radical activity and tissue destruction. Many skin disorders are a result of inflammation.
Chronic systemic inflammation is not confined to a particular tissue, but involves the lining of blood vessels and many internal organs and systems. This inflammatory process is often associated with free radical damage and oxidative stress. Chronic inflammation is a pathological condition characterized by continued active inflammation response and tissue destruction. The inflammatory process induces oxidative stress and reduces cellular antioxidant capacity. Overproduced free radicals react with cell membrane fatty acids and proteins, impairing their function permanently. In addition, free radicals can lead to mutation and DNA damage that can be a predisposing factor for cancer and age-related disorders.
How Can You Combat This Inflammation?
Antioxidants are celebrated as the agents that save us from free radicals. They donate one of their electrons to the free radical, putting it out of commission so it’s no longer careening around seeking another electron. They’re a hugely essential part of a healthy diet, and are key ingredients in quality skincare programs. The benefits of paying attention to antioxidants are widely known.
But you can do yourself a world of favor by not only adding antioxidants to your diet and skin care products, but also by battling inflammation at the same time.
My DELTA-5 Oil has been scientifically tested and shown to have numerous benefits to the skin on the first application, including a profound effect on skin inflammation. As a renowned lipid nutrition expert with 30 years of experience studying and researching special fatty acids, I discovered the unique mode of action of Delta-5 Sciadonic Acid, which displaces pro-inflammatory molecules from lipid pools. This halts the inflammatory process in its tracks.
There’s no sense in trying to combat a problem with only one weapon. Arm yourself with the most powerful ingredients out there to ensure you have the best success countering inflammation resulting from free radical damage.