What are free radicals and how do they cause aging?

We’ve heard about ‘free radicals’ for years, but we’re just gonna go ahead and assume that, like us, you don’t actually know what they are. 

So let’s get enlightened together.

They’re highly unstable, extremely reactive atoms. So we like to think of them as toddlers. 

Are they villains? We’re not sure.

But, they are capable of causing massive amounts of destruction if they don’t get their snacks ASAP. 

They roam about our bodies, looking to partner up with the one thing that can stabilise them: electrons (aka snacks).

This is the only thing that can stop them from going on a destructive rampage, chopping their sister’s fringe and pulling a sharpie across the wall. Once the free radical pairs up with an electron, they’re neutralised. 

No damage, no harm, and no premature crow’s feet. 

If they don’t find an electron? They’ll reach out and damage other molecules in the body, including lipids, proteins and DNA, and trigger something called oxidative stress, leading to a range of diseases and premature aging.  

What is oxidative stress and how does it affect our health?

Oxidative stress happens when there’s an imbalance between free radicals and the electrons that can neutralise them. Oxidative stress happens in two ways:

  1. As the body ages, it loses its ability to fight against free radicals due to an imbalance between free radicals and their stabilising electron counterpart. This explains why even normal, healthy bodies experience aging.                    
  2. Through lifestyle choices, which can accelerate free radical production. Things like smoking, exposure to toxic chemicals, fatty foods, fried foods, alcohol and air pollution.

Oxidative stress has been linked to DNA damage, causing cancer, and a range of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, strokes and neurological conditions.

And if that’s not scary enough, it makes us look old 😒

How can we prevent free radical damage?

Enter our hero: antioxidants.

(Aka screen time.)

They’re our body’s superheroes, and they help fend off free radical damage in three main ways.

  1. They’re a generous bunch and will donate electrons to free radicals to placate them. 
  2. They scavenge for free radicals, bind to them and render them harmless. 
  3. Lastly, they can regenerate other antioxidants including vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, selenium and flavonoids.

This brings us to prevention. 

Consuming a diet rich in antioxidants can help protect against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases associated with oxidative damage. We naturally produce some antioxidants on our own, but others are only available through nutrients in food. A diet rich in rainbow colours is a great defense against pesky free radicals.

So how does our sunscreen choice prevent free radical damage?

You’ve heard us talking about chemical sunscreens and the inflammatory, toxic ingredients many of them contain. Well, it turns out that toxins can deplete the body’s antioxidant defenses. When we’ve got less of these superhero antioxidants in our body, free radicals can go about their destructive business of harming our DNA and inflaming our bodies.

Not good.

This is just another reason why MOTHER SPF is so committed to using clean, non-toxic ingredients in our products. More than ever, we’re aware that every choice we make affects our health, and that what we put on our skin affects what’s inside our body.

So where to from here?

The usual stuff. We commit to eating better, reducing toxins, and being mindful of the products we put on our face and body.

And then? 

We’re helping those superhero antioxidants fight aging and illness the best way they can. 

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