Women’s health magazines often talk about anti-ageing super foods for youthful skin…
Foods like green smoothies, Atlantic salmon and blueberries …and don’t get me wrong, these foods are all great for your skin, but why is that?
Bridgit (our resident naturopath) is going to explain what the go is with antioxidants and why are they are so important for our skin.
We’ll also talk about where you can find the 6 most important antioxidants, including in a few surprising skin super foods…
So, what is an Antioxidant?
To understand what a antioxidant is, we’ve got to understand why we need antioxidants.
And to understand that, I’ve got to explain what oxidative stress and free radicals are.
So we have what’s known as free radicals in our body. They’re natural by-products of everyday life for breathing or digesting our foods.
But these free radicals do cause a bit of oxidative damage, so they can cause damage to our cells because they’re a bit unstable.
Think of an apple and how it goes brown or rust on a tool.
That’s a result of free radicals doing some oxidative damage.
But then the problem is, when we have too many of these free radicals in our body.
Free radicals also be created in our bodies by:
- pollutants in the air
- cigarette smoke
- over exposure to sunlight,
- high intensity exercise
When our bodies create more free radicals, these excess free radicals can cause more damage to our healthy cells and more chronic diseases further down the track. Because there’s excess free radicals causing damage to healthy cells.
This is where antioxidants come in handy… think of free radicals as being unstable. They are unstable molecules.
And they’re looking for an electron, so they’re causing damage along their way, stealing electrons here and there.
An antioxidant comes over and almost is like a calming agent on it. It donates an electron, calming down this free radical so it doesn’t cause excess damage.
A good example of this is thinking back to that apple…
When you cutting up some apple, and you want it to last for a longer period of time, you tend to put some lemon juice on it.
This lemon juice has like high antioxidants. Lemon juice has vitamin C as well as bioflavonoids, preventing that browning going at a excessive rate.
…and how does this affect our skin?
Free radicals that cause oxidative stress can lead to premature ageing.
They do this by damaging the collagen fibres in our skin. They can cause skin’s collagen to dry out, shrivel and shrink
…think about when something shrinks (like shrink wrap), it tightens up and folds in on itself… causing wrinkles
So for skin this will reduce elasticity and speed up the formation of lines and wrinkles.
We can reduce oxidative stress in the body and on our skin by reducing our exposure to the stressors above and increasing our intake of antioxidants.
So where are we going to find these antioxidants?
Our body does make it’s own antioxidants, like glutathione.
But unfortunately, it doesn’t make glutathione in the amount we need to protect us for when we have an excess of free radicals – like if we go for a run or if we’re out in the sun, or under excess stress.
So this is where our fruits and vegetables come in handy, because they’re packed full of antioxidants.
All the colours of different fruits and vegetables actually really represent different antioxidants or bioflavonoids.
So it’s really important then to eat a rainbow, eat a whole variety, because all these antioxidants they all work together, and they all need each other, support each other to prevent free radical damage.
6 super helpful antioxidants are:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin A
and we can find these antioxidants in our colourful fruits and veggies.
We’re super lucky, because Bridgit has also got a really handy little PDF download that details all the different fruits and veggies, all their different nutrients and why they’re so helpful for us. Also super tips on how to prepare some of these different foods as well.
It’s the preparation where it’s really important. Antioxidants can be quite unstable themselves so they don’t really tend to last too long when it comes to cooking, or if you’re buying fruits and vegetables from overseas because, and when you get them to your plate they might not have as much antioxidants in them.
…and some more surprising sources of these antioxidants:
These foods are not in the leafy green, colourful veggie spectrum, but they are good whole food sources of antioxidants.
Liver is a really good source of Vitamins A, D, E, and K.
All of which are super important for your skin, as well as selenium. So, selenium not only is it one of those six antioxidants above (as is Vitamins A and E), but it’s super helpful for skin elasticity.
And if you’re not such a fan of eating liver, we do have it in handy freeze-dried capsules in our Skin Super Foods section
#2. Traditional Fats
Animal fats are a rich source of fat soluble Vitamins A, D, E and K – all of which are critical for good skin health.
Grass-fed ghee and tallow contain Vitamins A and E from our antioxidants list to help protect cells from oxidation and premature ageing.
Traditional fats have good stability for cooking and grass-fed tallow is the hero ingredients in our Ecology Moisturisers for topical application.
Different kinds of teas contain different kinds of bioflavonoids. But one in particular is green tea
Green tea contains EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) a powerful antioxidant that helps to reduce UV damage, slow collagen breakdown and improve skin cell regeneration for more youthful looking skin.
Also because there’s often a ritual surrounding tea drinking, it can be really calming for us. We have Matcha Maiden Green Tea in the our Skin Super Foods section.
Turmeric contains your bioflavonoids, it also contains vitamin C, and beta carotene as well. So that hits, 3 out of 6 of those antioxidants that Bridgit mentioned before.
Turmeric also contains curcumin, which is really helpful for our own body to generate glutathione which is the body’s own antioxidant that Bridgit mentioned before. So curcumin is a really good precursor for helping our body to produce more of that one as well.
You can find turmeric in our Skin Super Foods section in a few different products – it’s in the turmeric smoothie blend, and turmeric latte blend (so you can go hot or cold…), Pete Evans Bone Broth (the orange one) and the Oyster Capsules.
Plus, the Pete Evans Bone Broth (the green one), contains Kakadu Plum which has one of the highest levels of natural Vitamin C on the planet!