Free radicals are created naturally, but there are a number of external factors that increase their production, accelerate skin aging and can put your health at risk.
What are free radicals?
Free radicals are molecules with an unpaired electron. This fact makes them very reactive, so they have the capacity to produce changes in the structure and composition of the cells.
They can lead to a chain of reactions, since a free radical can bind to an unpaired radical or steal an electron from another molecule.
These molecules are continuously formed in our organism and are usually eliminated by other oxidative elements with this function.
Free radical damage is such that it has been shown that radical activation stimulates the production of collagenase, which causes collagen breakdown.
The problem comes when the defenses are not able to stop an excess of free radicals. In this case we are talking about oxidative stress. When the balance is lost and free radicals gain ground, cell damage can occur to cell membranes, proteins and even DNA.
The damage also affects the elements that maintain the structure and youthfulness of the skin, such as fibroblasts and keratinocytes, which are involved in the production of elastin, collagen and hyaluronic acid. Although with the natural aging process, the body reduces the production of these organic compounds, photoaging can accelerate the process.
In addition, various studies and research affirm that free radicals can facilitate the appearance of diseases such as arteriosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, emphysema and ischemic processes of the central nervous system.
The role of antioxidants
Antioxidants are responsible for preventing the progression and effects of free radicals. Catalase, ascorbic acid, carotenes and uric acid are antioxidant enzymes that break down, in one way or another, the structure of free radicals.
To combat free radicals, antioxidants give up one of their electrons to molecules. This causes their own oxidation, but they manage to slow down the chain reaction caused by free radicals.
Vitamin E, vitamin C, carotenoids and phenolic compounds have antioxidant properties.
How are free radicals created?
As mentioned above, it is not the creation of free radicals that is of concern, but the loss of balance in favor of free radicals.
Sun exposure, pollution, poor diet, smoking and alcohol are factors that cause an increase in free radicals.
To reduce the amount of free radicals and avoid skin damage, the most important thing is prevention and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. And that includes a varied, varied and antioxidant-rich diet, combined, of course, with protection from ultraviolet rays, little or no alcohol and tobacco.