Sunday | June 15, 2008
Flavonoids, Free Radicals and Anti-oxidants
What are they, what do they do and why is it all so important?
A flavonoid is a pigment in the skin that protects against oxidation and sunlight, such as ginko biloba, grapeseed extract, quecertin and rutin. You’ll also find plenty of flavonoids in tea (particularly the ElmLine teas), red wine, grapes, apples and onions, tomatoes, broccoli, apricots, oranges, pomegranates, cherries… and chocolate. Flavonoids modify the body’s reaction to allergens, viruses and carcinogens by protecting cells from the damaging effects of free radicals.
Organisms, including human beings age because cells accumulate free radical damage with the passage of time. A free radical is a molecule that has an incomplete electron shell, which causes unwanted side reactions that result in cell damage. In humans, the most common form of free radical is oxygen. When an oxygen molecule becomes electrically charged or “radicalized” it tries to steal electrons from other molecules, causing damage to the DNA.
Many of the symptoms of aging, and a wide range of diseases are attributed to free-radical induced oxidation that damages all components of the cell, including proteins, lipids and DNA.
Oxidation is what happens when the banana or apple you left on the counter top turns brown. It’s basically a chemical reaction that causes the loss of electrons from the atoms and molecules that form a biological structure. This chemical reaction produces free radicals and that starts the chain reaction that damages cells.
Antioxidants are powerful little molecules that prevent the damaging effects of oxygen free radicals in the body. Antioxidants terminate the chain reactions by removing free radical intermediates and inhibit other oxidation reactions by being oxidized themselves.
Antioxidants are found naturally in many foods, including fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, and some meats, poultry and fish. Well-known antioxidants include include lutein (abundant in green, leafy vegetables), lycopene (found in tomatoes, watermelon, apricots), a number of enzymes and other substances such as vitamin C, E, and beta carotene, which is converted to vitamin A and found in orange foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots and mangoes.
How do we know they work? If you cut an apple and dip it in lemon juice, which contains vitamin C, an antioxidant, the apple stays white. Antioxidants are commonly added to food products such as vegetable oils and prepared foods to prevent or delay their deterioration from the action of air. They’re also added to some skin care products as well.
When looking for skincare products, you’ll want to look for formulas that promote optimal hydration, include antioxidants that help firm the skin, and promote collagen regeneration, for skin that appears younger, smoother and radiantly healthy.
Elmwood Spa’s exclusive ElmLine, in particular the Anti-Aging product range may meet your needs. The various formulations achieve real results by strengthening the skin’s intrinsic health. They’re infused with ingredients such as Shea Butter, Vitamin C, Matrixyl 2000, Algae, and Hyaluronic Acid, and the ElmLine Anti-Aging Day Protection Cream contains UVA and UVB protection as well to help repair sun damage, provide moisture, improve skin tone and rebalance the skin.
Products, facials and body treatments that are designed to include antioxidant properties, through powerful ingredients such as organic seaweeds that can reduce inflammation, and soothe and heal skin are rapidly growing in popularity. Hyaluronic acid, fruit enzymes, collagen, antioxidants, bioflavanoids, green tea (which is composed of polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant), and herbal extracts such as aloe vera, rose, soy, lavender and chamomile, all help to protect against the effects of free radicals.
Antioxidants are easily ingested through a healthy diet and readily absorbed through your skincare regimen and from the products used in facials and body treatments. While free radicals seem to be lurking everywhere, if we can get enough flavonoids and antioxidants in our bodies, we can protect ourselves from disease and minimize the effects of aging.