(Photo: Polina Kovaleva)
From enjoying the day outdoors to getting an X-ray, you're constantly exposed to damaging factors that can negatively impact your health and well-being. Constant exposure to pollutants and the sun's harsh rays, especially at high volumes, can lead to an increase in free radicals.
Simply put, free radicals are the problem molecules of your body. These molecules are bonded to an odd number of electrons, causing them to have an impartial makeup. To compensate for their lack of electrons, they try to steal their missing pieces from other, healthy molecules. This damages your healthy cells and can lead to several health and skin issues, including dryness and premature aging.
Free radicals can be generated in your body from its natural processes, or from external pollutants, like industrial chemicals. They're inevitable, and they can wreak havoc on your skin and overall health.
These molecules can, however, be neutralized in your body. By following these four tips, you can contribute to your body's ability to fight free radicals, and protect your skin.
Adjust Your Skincare Routine
One of the best ways you can protect your skin from free radicals is with your skincare routine. Washing your face with a gentle daily cleanser can help remove any dirt, sweat, and pollutants you come across.
Your skincare routine shouldn't end with your cleanser though. Always follow up with moisturizer. Try to get into the habit of moisturizing your skin at least twice a day. This can help strengthen your skin's protective barrier. Which, in turn, makes it less susceptible to damage.
After your moisturizer has fully dried, complete your nightly skincare regimen with tretinoin cream. A synthetic form of vitamin A, tretinoin helps stimulate collagen and elastin production, which keeps your skin firm and elastic. It also helps promote the turnover of damaged and dead skin cells, so your skin will look brand new. Tretinoin creams do have some active ingredients that can make your skin more sensitive to the sun's rays. So, don't forget to apply sunscreen!
Eat An Antioxidant-Rich Diet
Antioxidants are hero foods for your body. Diets high in antioxidants help support your overall health and they can neutralize those pesky free radicals. Antioxidants do this by giving the free radicals the missing piece they need, making the once dangerous molecules harmless. They also keep free radicals in check, which helps reduce oxidative stress before any damage is done to your cells and DNA.
Eating an antioxidant-rich diet is easier than you may expect. A wide variety of antioxidants are found in plant-based foods. You want to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. But don't worry, you don't have to give up chocolate - just swap it for dark chocolate with 70% cocoa. Quality dark chocolate has high levels of antioxidants, which can reduce inflammation, high blood pressure, and the likelihood of heart disease.
As a general rule, the more colorful your plate is, the more antioxidants you're consuming. For example, a salad with tomatoes, carrots, and kale contains lycopene and beta-carotene. These are both antioxidants that will work to support your skin health and neutralize free radicals. You can also incorporate more antioxidants into your diet by eating more lean proteins. Proteins such as those in fish, chicken, and tofu are high in selenium, an antioxidant mineral.
Chronic stress can harm your body. When you're constantly tense, your body produces more free radicals. This contributes to myriad issues from worsening acne to wrinkles and premature aging.
Constant pressure releases hormones like cortisol, which, at elevated levels, can lead to oxidative stress. This, in turn, produces more free radicals. When you reduce your calm down, you're helping your body maintain a healthier balance of hormones.
Reducing stress can definitely be a challenge. But doing so offers several benefits that contribute to healthier skin, and better protection against free radicals. Try incorporating a few new techniques to your daily routine to help you unwind. These can be activities you enjoy, like exercising or finding a hobby that will take your mind off your worries. Or, you could try taking deep breaths throughout the day, and unplug from your screens an hour before bed.
Although it may be daunting somedays, regular exercise plays a crucial role in your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. And, it helps your body fight free radicals, too.
When you get into the habit of exercising, your body produces more antioxidants that can defend against the troubling molecules. Exercise also helps detoxify your body. When you get your blood pumping and begin sweating, you're flushing out toxins in your body. This includes free radicals.
If you're new to exercise, try to find a fitness routine that you actually enjoy. This will keep you motivated, even on those days when you want to melt into the couch. Your exercise routine doesn't have to be lifting weights at the gym. Consider taking a yoga class, going for a hike, or even dancing.
As you're finding your ideal exercise routine, remember to start slow. Rushing into intense workouts can lead to intense muscle soreness and fatigue, which can discourage you from continuing your routine. Try setting a timer for twenty minutes at a time during each workout session. As your fitness improves, gradually increase the intensity and duration of your routines.
Free radicals are pervasive molecules that, unfortunately, can't be avoided. However, they can be disarmed by just a few simple lifestyle changes. With proper skincare, the right diet, less stress, and more exercise, you can fight free radicals and prevent premature aging.
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