MILOON ANTI-AGING GUIDE: Part 4.
Thanks to the increasingly central role played by lifestyle and well-being, antioxidants play a fundamental role in contemporary culture. I could bet that you have recently read about them at least a million times on social media (if you follow miloon.eu and our K-Beauty magazine, you will say that we like to win easy). Antioxidants make news. We talk about them when we dream of reversing the passage of time and diminishing the signs of age. But are you really sure you know what antioxidants are and how do they work? We decided it was time to go deep once and for all. Start the journey in the fantastic world of antioxidants from the fourth and final part of Miloon’s K-Beauty Guides dedicated to anti-aging.
INTRODUCTION: THE MOLECULAR LEVEL.
To understand what antioxidants are and how they should work we need to pick up our high school chemistry book and focus on molecular principles.
This is because in reality, antioxidants are molecules. But what are the molecules?
Let’s start from the base. Composed of a nucleus, protons and electrons that revolve around the nucleus, an atom is the constituent of the whole universe. A combination of several atoms is called Molecule. The human body is made up of substances like fats, proteins and DNA, which can be fundamentally imagined as large molecules made up of hundreds of atoms joined together.
The electrons (E) carry a negative charge (-).
The protons (P) (red spheres) in the nucleus carry a positive charge (+).
Let’s try to analyze how antioxidants work. Humans and other organisms maintain their structure and function by chemical reactions. All the chemical reactions necessary to sustain life are commonly termed metabolism. Through these chemical reactions, the larger molecules are decomposed into smaller molecules and the smaller molecules are in turn organized into larger molecules. However, in order for a molecule to be stable, it must contain the right amount of electrons. The problem begins when a molecule loses an electron, without this loss being expected. Which means that it can turn into a free radical.
What are free radicals? Free radicals are unstable molecules in cells. These have an electric charge which, by virtue of this, allows them to react with other molecules (such as DNA) and damage them. They can also generate chain reactions, in which the molecules that are damaged in this way, transform themselves into free radicals. This is where antioxidants come into play.
HOW DO ANTIOXIDANTS WORK?
When a molecule loses an electron, it can be transformed into a free radical. In this case, the antioxidant molecule intervenes and “gives” to the free radical an electron, effectively neutralizing it.
HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENS:
Here is the process that regulates antioxidants and makes in mood that they can give electrons to free radicals, which neutralizes them, preventing them from causing damage.
WHERE DO FREE RADICALS COME FROM?
Without antioxidants, free radicals would destroy our bodies very quickly. Free radicals are the product of metabolism, and they serve important functions that are essential for our survival. In fact, for example, the body’s immune cells use free radicals to kill bacteria that try to infect it.
To function perfectly, our body needs to maintain a constant electrical balance. That’s why we always need to have the right amount of free radicals and the right amount of antioxidants. Only in this way all the functions of our organism can be maintained at the optimal level. But it is when this balance is interrupted, then problems begin to arise.
When free radicals (pro-oxidants) are more numerous than antioxidants, the state that is commonly called oxidative stress is generated in the tissues. During oxidative stress, important molecules in the body can be damaged more and more significantly, leading to cell death.
In our lifestyle, there are important causes of oxidative stress, determined as we have seen from an out-of-control formation of free radicals
– Air pollution.
– Cigarette smoke.
– Alcohol intake.
– High blood sugar levels.
– Consume large quantities of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
– Radiation, including excessive sunbathing.
– Infections from bacteria, fungi or viruses.
– Excessive supply of iron, magnesium, copper or zinc.
– Too little oxygen in the body.
– Too much oxygen in the body.
– Intense and prolonged exercise, which causes tissue damage.
– Excessive intake of antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E.
– Deficiency of antioxidants.
Prolonged oxidative stress leads to an increased risk of the onset of health problems, such as cardiovascular diseases and some types of cancer, as well as the more classic generation of tissues: the aging process.
Antioxidants are essential for life and are found in all types of food. In fact, our diet is an essential source of antioxidants. These are found in nature, contained in foods of plant and animal origin, especially in vegetables, fruit and beverages such as coffee and tea.
In fact, antioxidants are essential for the survival of all living things.
The human body generates some, such as cellular antioxidant glutathione. Plants and animals, and all other life forms, have their defenses against free radicals and the oxidative damage they create. For this reason, antioxidants are found in practically all foods of plant and animal origin. Getting antioxidants from foods is definitely important: this is because our life depends on the intake of some antioxidants – namely, vitamin C and vitamin E. The health benefits associated with a diet rich in plant elements are, at least in part , due to the wide diversity of antioxidants that they provide.
Meat and fish products also contain antioxidants, but in smaller quantities than fruits and vegetables. Berries are a particularly good source.
Then there are many other good sources of antioxidants … including green tea, coffee and dark chocolate.
Antioxidants can increase the shelf life of both natural and industrially processed food products. Therefore, they are frequently used as food additives. For example, vitamin C is often added to processed foods because of its preservative effect.
TYPES OD DIETARY ANTIOXIDANTS.
A diet can offer many different types of antioxidants. These substances can serve various other functions, even if not strictly related to antioxidant activity. In fact, there is a huge variety of different antioxidants present in foods. These can be categorized into two large groups: water-soluble antioxidants and liposoluble antioxidants.
Water soluble antioxidants are soluble in water. They perform their actions by flowing, working through the inner and outer membrane of the cells. Instead, fat-soluble antioxidants act primarily in cell membranes.
Among the most important food antioxidants we find:
– Vitamin C: one of the most important water-soluble antioxidants and an essential nutrient for the diet.
– Vitamin E: the main fat-soluble antioxidant that plays a fundamental role in the protection of cell membranes from oxidative damage.
– Flavonoids: a large group of antioxidants present in plant foods, with multiple beneficial health effects.
PREVENTING THE OXIDATIVE STRESS.
Let’s begin that it is impossible to reduce the exposure to free radicals and, consequently, oxidative stress. However, there are the simple rules to minimize the effects on your body. The first thing is to increase antioxidant levels and decrease the formation of free radicals.
A method to prevent oxidative stress is the one that consumes the amount of antioxidants thanks to our diet. Eat five servings a day off a variety of fruits and vegetables to produce antioxidants. Examples of fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants
– Citrus fruits
– Dark green leaf
Other examples of sources of food antioxidants:
– Fish and nuts
– Vitamin E
– Vitamin C
– Green tea
Our lifestyle can be considered significantly for oxidative stress. Here are some
Train in a regular and moderate way.
This aspect promotes the formation of natural antioxidants to the maximum, reducing the damage caused by oxidative stress. Regular physical exercise is linked to a longer lifespan, a lower impact of aging, accompanied by a reduction in cancer risk.
It also avoids exposure to passive smoking.
Use caution with chemicals.
This also includes cleaning chemicals. It is important to avoid exposure to radiation and chemical agents, such as pesticides used on food or in gardening.
Love the environment.
Eco-friendly initiatives such as paid carpooling produce free radicals for you and your community.
Always wear solar safety.
Sunscreen prevents the damage of ultraviolet light on the skin.
Decrease alcohol intake.
Sleep a lot.
The right amount of sleep is very important to respect the body’s balance. Brain function, hormone production, antioxidant and free radicals, as well as a myriad of other aspects, are all influenced by sleep.
The state of oxidative stress more frequently should be eaten appropriately spaced or smaller and moderate portions are assumed.