At this point, we all know that antioxidants are important, but do you know how they work? In simple terms, antioxidants are “good guy” molecules that can fight off free radicals, a bunch of “bad ones”. The latter are oxygen molecules that have split into single atoms with unpaired electrons. As electrons are like magnets and like to pair up with others, these free radicals scavenge your body looking for a partner. Alas, this process causes “oxidative stress”, something that damages your cells, proteins and even your DNA. Because of this, free radicals are associated with premature ageing as well as a string of diseases including cancer, Alzheimer's, asthma and diabetes.
Unfortunately, it’s challenging to avoid exposure to free radicals as, much like oxygen, they’re pretty much everywhere – in the air, the water, our food. What we can do, however, is load up on as many free-radical fighting antioxidants as we can. These help delay the ageing process as well as protect our bodies from the damaging effects of oxidative stress.
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To wrap your head around antioxidants and how they work is to think of them as great peacemakers. All that free radicals want is an electron, and an antioxidant can hand one out in a way that doesn't destabilise itself. Once the free radical gets what it wants, it stops its hunt and leaves your cells alone. Easy, right? Well, sort of. Not all antioxidants are created equally. Some are more potent than others, and they work a bit like antibiotics in that they all fight off different types of free radicals. This is why you mustn't just rely on one but instead get a good mix of several. Also, free radical-busting benefits aside, antioxidants are brilliant natural anti-inflammatories. Inflammation that’s left unchecked is a major cause of premature ageing (known as “inflammaging”) as well as a contributing factor to illness, so again, dosing up on antioxidants is a must.
Here’s how to get enough of what you need, and there are two ways to go about it. You can power up internally by eating a diet full of antioxidant-rich foods as well as apply them topically to your skin. (We like NeoStrataSkin Active Antioxidant Defense Serum. It contains eight powerful antioxidants and has a feather-weight texture that sees it absorb in a flash under any moisturiser.)
At this point, most of us are familiar with the most common antioxidants around - vitamin A, C and E, but they’re not necessarily the most potent. For example, let's talk about a superstar you probably haven't even heard of – Pycnogenol!
Pycnogenol is a French maritime pine bark extract . It contains several powerful antioxidants including, proanthocyanidins. These are a class of polyphenols found in plants. Its benefits include the ability to improve heart health and circulation, control blood sugar, boost brain function, alleviate joint pain, reduce water retention and minimise the symptoms of menopause. It can even decrease the production of histamines, making it a must for allergy sufferers!
Still, where Pycnogenol really shines is its ability to help protect your skin from the sun. Studies have shown its ability to inhibit the inflammation caused by unprotected UV-exposure and thus reduce the risk of sunburn. It's also able to inhibit the production of melanin to help minimize the appearance of pigmentation. Better yet, it can also increase your skin's hydration and elasticity as well as bind to your elastin and collagen to protect it against oxidisation.
Finding Pycnogenol in food sources is tricky, so it’s a good idea to take a supplement, something like Lamelle OvelleD3 that contains it along with vitamin D3.
At Health Renewal we believe that eating a balanced, diet is essential to your health as well as a great way to load up on antioxidants. Still, you can’t always get everything you need from your diet and this is where supplementation comes in. We stock a wide array of brilliant supplements including, many antioxidant superstars. In fact, we’re so passionate about supplementation that we’ve created our own Renewal Institute line.
Our high-quality nutraceuticals are all free of gluten, wheat, dairy, yeast, sugar, salt, artificial flavour, sweetener and preservatives. We also insist that all our supplements be certified to be free of heavy metals like mercury, an imperative ask when it comes to fish oils.
If you'd like to find out more about our amazing antioxidants as well as any other nutraceuticals that could enhance your health, make an appointment to chat with one of our doctors today. Together, we can help ensure you’re getting everything you need for a healthier, happier life.