The Trouble With Free Radicals....
Updated: Apr 12
When you hear people talking about Free Radicals, you could be forgiven for thinking they are a group of armed, militant extremists!! And I suppose, in a way they are because ultimately they are scavengers and havoc wreakers! But in order to understand why their behaviour is important for our skin, we must first examine the science behind it all:
Free Radicals – what exactly are they?
Healthy cells in your body are composed of stable and balanced atoms, each of which contains an even number of electrons. These stable atoms move around each other in sync and join together to form molecules - molecules are the building blocks of our bodies’ cells so every cell in our bodies is full of molecules and all of your body’s tissues are comprised of cells.
Enter the armed, militant extremists!! Occasionally an atom loses an electron, leaving the atom with an "unpaired" electron. The atom is then called a "free radical", and becomes very unstable. When cells in the body encounter a free radical, the reactive free radical may cause destruction in the cell by stealing electrons from stable atoms and transforming them into Free Radicals. According to Dr. Harmon (the scientist who came up with the concept of the Free Radical Theory of Ageing) cells continuously produce free radicals, and constant free radical damage eventually kills the cell. When free radicals kill or damage enough cells in an organism, the organism ages.
When an oxygen atom is the victim of one of these scavenging free radicals and loses an electron, it becomes a super-charged free radical, called the Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). When environmental stress levels are high e.g. sunbathing without SPF or strolling down a polluted city street – the Reactive Oxygen Species multiply rapidly. These free radicals, which are essentially toxic molecules of oxygen, are highly reactive and can damage every area of our bodies.
Causes of Free Radicals:
The first thing to note is that these mega-destructive "militants" play a key role in cell damage and ageing. One free radical on its own can cause tens of thousands of chain reactions that lead to a lot of damage e.g. destruction of cell membranes, disruption of crucial processes in the body, formation of mutant cells and alterations to your very DNA to mention but a few. Free radicals are thought to be a major contributing factor to nearly all disease and illness. Let’s look at some of the causes of Free Radicals:
Foods subjected to high heat and refined foods such as white sugar, white flours, hydrogenated oils, etc.
Environmental pollution (from air, water, household chemicals, asbestos, pesticide residues, & other man-made pollutants)
Preservatives, Colourings, and other food additives
Smoking and passive smoke
Exposure to excess heat or cold
Alcohol, Drugs, Prescription & Over The Counter Drugs
Chemotherapy & Radiation,
Lack of Truly Clean & Fresh Air
Radiation (including electromagnetic radiation from anything electric such as outside power lines; wires in your home/work, TVs, computer monitors, etc.)
Heart Disease & Strokes
The short video below explains the whole process really well and at 2 minutes 20 seconds long, it's worth taking a look......
So what does all this really mean for you and your skin’s appearance? Well, the damage caused by free radicals not only affects you on the inside but the outside as well – as you age, the ability to produce collagen decreases, free radicals are able to penetrate much further and cause much more damage. They will also accelerate the decrease of collagen in the body, allowing wrinkles, dark-spots, and sagging skin to form much faster.