Are you interested in looking years younger? Then you've got to know about something called free radicals. See, one of the best ways to help your skin age gracefully is to get enough antioxidants in your diet. What do they do? They control the effect of free radicals!
But what are free radicals? And how do we combat them? Glad you asked. Free radicals, oxidative damage and antioxidants are all terms we hear bandied about often, but really, the understanding the effect of antioxidants and free radicals is very important - if you want to stay healthier and look younger that is! And who wouldn't?
As with anything, educating yourself is key and will help you make the right choices for your health and your skin. Free radicals are negative forces on your skin, quite simply. It's believed that they form from a combination of forces including smoking, air pollution, poor diet, stress and sun exposure. They're, in essence, activated by the body when it uses oxygen and they start a chain reaction in all your cells of your body, including your skin cells.
As the free radicals attack your skin cells, they actually damage the cellular structure of the skin, making you age at a faster rate, and causing more wrinkles. The best way to combat the effect of free radicals is to provide your body with plenty of antioxidants. What do they do? They protect the skin from these damaging forces and help to repair the skin. When you have enough antioxidants, stresses that cause free radicals are not as damaging and are not as aging.
In other words, you age more slowly and more gracefully. Antioxidants are not produced naturally by the body so the only way to get them is to either take them in pill form or eat foods full of them, or you could do both. Which method is best?
A recent study conducted by the American Institute for Cancer Research suggests that people who received their antioxidant dose in the form of fruits and vegetables actually showed less oxidation in their bodies than those who received only supplements containing antioxidants. So fresh veggies and fruits are the best. And if you want to, you can add in some supplements as well. Knowing, then, that fresh sources are the best, let's look at how to get more of these powerhouse antioxidants in your diet.
Virtually all vegetables have antioxidants and this is why diets rich in vegetables are the healthiest. When you pick fruits and vegetables think about color. Color is an important consideration because they to help you make your fresh choices. When in season and are well grown, their rich greens, yellows and reds really stand out. If you can get organic, this is even better!
The only vegetable to limit is potatoes as it's high GI, but the rest, expecially the green leafy ones, are fine. Just go for it and have 5-10 types of vegetables a day.
If you're more of a fruit person, all berries such as blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, strawberries are packed with antioxidants as nearly every other fruit. So again, pick what's fresh and in season. Keep in mind though that fruits are higher in sugar, so keep fruits to about 2 types a day.
Extra virgin olive oils are also packed with anti oxidants, and that's why the Mediterranean diet is considered so healthy. Make sure that the oil is extra virgin, cold pressed preferably. If it's organic, then this will be even more beneficial.
So there you have it. You now know what free radicals do, what antioxidants are, and how to get them. If you plan your diet carefully, you should have no trouble finding heaps of antioxidant rich foods to have in your diet. This will help you fight any number of other health challenges, and a diet full of antioxidants will help your skin look years younger too!
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