There is so much talk out there about the damage free radicals can inflict on our skin and the resulting inflammation. You've heard of the benefits of antioxidants and probiotics, both taken internally and used topically.

You've paid enough attention to know that free radicals and inflammation are bad and eating healthy is good.

Taking care of your skin involves more than twice-daily cleansing and moisturizing. What you put into your body has a huge impact everywhere, including your skin! Antioxidants and probiotics are vital to your health and longevity.

Why Are Free Radicals Bad?

Free radicals are formed when oxygen in the body splits - a result of either normal metabolic processes or due to bad stuff like smoke and toxins. When oxygen splits, it results in single atoms with unpaired electrons (oxidation). Those are free radicals. They don't like to be lonely, so they careen around your body seeking other electrons to pair with, leaving a path of destruction and damage to cells, protein, and your DNA. Free radicals are linked to numerous diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's disease. They've been implicated in the aging process, which has been defined as a gradual accumulation of free radical damage.

Much of the food we eat, medicines we take, and water we drink all contain substances that generate free radicals. These include pesticides and air pollutants, tobacco smoke, alcohol, and fried foods.

To sum it up? Free radicals are basically waste products from various chemical reactions in cells that, when built up, harm the cells of the body.

To top it off, the harassing done by free radicals can lead to inflammation. At the same time, inflammation can cause free radicals. Yikes!

Inflammation

Skin inflammation can be the result of something damaging like UV radiation, allergens, or contact with chemical irritants like soaps or hair dyes. It can also come from a sustained response on the cellular level within the skin, which can cause serious tissue destruction.

Damage from free radicals causes inflammation; chronic inflammation goes on to produce lots of free radicals, which in turn, create more inflammation.

Not good!

What Do Antioxidants Do?

Antioxidants, which are produced by the body and obtained through the food we eat, are a very critical part of the body's defense system. An antioxidant will donate one of its electrons to the free radical, effectively neutralizing it. Some antioxidants suppress the formation of free radicals. Others may scavenge to pick up free radicals and remove them before damage is done. Some may work to repair damage that has already taken place.

They will help to protect your skin from damage from the sun and other environmental insults. They guard from the inside out. Antioxidants like vitamins A and C can encourage cell and tissue growth, helping the repair process. This makes them vital to an anti-aging skin care regimen, helping to fight fine lines and wrinkles.

Why Do You Need Probiotics, Too?

So much of our body's defense system against inflammation - and other problems - begins with the gut. If you have an unhealthy gut, problems will certainly follow. Probiotics help to promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria and have been linked to many health benefits. They restore balance again. They're live microorganisms that can be consumed through fermented foods or supplements. They're the beneficial bugs!

How To Eat Healthy For Your Skin

The good news is you have a huge variety of yummy foods to choose from! Eating healthy can be fun and delicious! You can find many antioxidants and probiotics in the foods you regularly eat.

Some nutrients that act as familiar antioxidants are vitamins C, E, beta carotene, and selenium. Phytochemicals like quercetin and other flavonoids and enzymes such as glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase are also powerful antioxidants. You get these by eating the rainbow. A good rule of thumb is to generally believe each color of food provides a different antioxidant. Lots of color variety means lots of nutrient variety, and your best bet to get the full spectrum of antioxidant benefits.

Some delicious places to find antioxidants include:

  • Blueberries
  • Pomegranates
  • Spinach and other leafy veggies
  • Nuts
  • Berries ike acai, goji, raspberry
  • Purple grapes
  • Green tea
  • Dark chocolate (70% or more cocoa)
  • Mangoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • White tea
  • Carrots, apricots, and other yellow and orange fruits and veggies
  • Beans, peas, and lentils
  • Salmon, mackerel, and other fatty fish

You can find probiotics in fermented foods, those foods that benefit from having a live bacteria culture present. Taking a probiotic supplement isn't the same as eating these foods, as fermented foods offer health benefits you don't necessarily get from probiotic supplements. These foods seed your gut with a variety of bacteria species. They also contain non-digestible carbohydrates, which serve as a prebiotic, meaning they can feed and promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria, giving the good bacteria the nutritional support they need to thrive.

Sit down to a delicious meal or snack that includes:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Tempeh
  • Miso
  • Kombucha
  • Pickles

Getting a healthy dose of probiotics and antioxidants can really do wonders to boost not only your skin, but your overall health as well. Eating healthy doesn't have to be a drag. There are so many flavors to choose from!