The power of antioxidants
When you are researching healthy food or skincare, you’re bound to find the word ‘antioxidant’ It’s often used as an argument to promote an item or at least as a positive. But what do antioxidants do and why do we love them so much? In this post, I will try to explain the process of antioxidants simplified.
Our bodies are made of millions of cells. These cells can be damaged by ‘bad’ molecules, called free radicals. Free radicals bind themselves to healthy cells and damage or age them. This process is called ‘oxidative stress’ and it makes us less healthy. These free radicals float around us everywhere. They are the cause of rust on steel and the reason your apple turns brown if you cut it and leave it that way. If we don’t do something about these free radicals that attack our bodies, we would get sick, wounds wouldn’t heal and due to the accelerated renewal of cells, we would age very quickly.
Antioxidants to the rescue
But luckily, there is a way to protect ourselves from free radicals. As you would in any fight, you need a shield. That shield against free radicals is made of antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules that form a protective layer around our cells to protect it. This way, free radicals can’t bind themselves to our healthy cells and thus, they won’t damage them.
In addition, there have been studies that have found a link between inflammation (a form of oxidative stress) and mental health. Those studies also found that foods containing antioxidants could help improve mental health. Therefore, it is always recommended that if you struggle with things like depression, you might want to up your intake of antioxidants. For this reason, the Happy Healthy Brain diet also contains many foods high in antioxidants.
Antioxidants in food
Free radicals are not only around us, but also in our bodies and there is no way to avoid it. They can cause cancer, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and increase your risks for bacteria and viruses. Therefore, it is important for us to eat plenty of foods containing antioxidants. Foods that contain lots of antioxidants contain high levels of vitamin C, vitamin E and carotenoids. Good examples are several types of berries, cocoa, a lot of produce (like sweet potato, kale and spinach), several types of nuts, lemon juice, honey, ginger and some tea’s, like green tea. One way I take in most of my antioxidants are actually through the amount of green tea I drink, especially when combined with ginger, lemon and/or honey.
Antioxidants in skincare
As previously mentioned, you will also see the word antioxidants a lot in the realm of skincare. One of the biggest reasons for this, is that damaged skin ages faster and is often more sensitive. This is why many skincare products are happy to promote that they contain green tea, honey or vitamin C and E. Antioxidants can prevent wrinkles, make the skin brighter and make it less sensitive. For instance, aloe vera contains Vitamin A, C and E (all antioxidants) and is thus a very good product to calm and repair the skin. I personally also love (almost) pure aloe vera gel when my skin is sunburnt or hives are coming up.
Recently, a trend seems to be growing in DIY skincare. Masks are made of lemon juice, cucumber, honey and more. However, I would not personally recommend this. Many antioxidants are not even released when just ‘thrown’ on the skin and a lot of fruits also contain acids that might damage the skin even more. In laboratories, these acids are taken out and antioxidants are mixed in the right amounts in order to make the good substances work. As mentioned before, what I explain here is quite simplified and unfortunately, it’s never that easy.
How many antioxidants do I need?
As with everything, too is never good. Too little is obviously not good, because free radicals can damage your cells. However, too much will prevent you from eating/smearing other things your body needs and at one point, it won’t add more protection. So, how many should you use?
In terms of skincare, I’d say you can use a moisturiser twice a day and you should be fine. It however depends which skin needs what product. Unfortunately, that’s a whole study and too much to discuss here.
In terms of food, we need a daily minimum of 8000 to 11,000 antioxidant units a day in our food just to stay out of oxidative debt. However, that’s quite hard to calculate and I won’t do that to you. I think every healthy diet (like the Happy Healthy Brain diet) will contain enough, since it will contain lots of fruit, vegetables, nuts and vitamins to keep you healthy. In ‘A busy day following the Happy Healthy Brain Diet’ you can read more about a general day of eating from me. As mentioned before, I also drink lots of green tea, which is already a great start.
Do you think about antioxidants when you think of your diet and/or skincare routine? What is your favourite way to get them? If you liked this, please follow me on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. You can also subscribe on the right and get an email every time I upload!
Lots of love,
Ps. I have put a couple of affiliate links in this article. This means that I earn a small commission if you buy something. This way, I can keep this blog going. However, if you don’t want to buy from my link, don’t feel pressured to do so!Home » Body »