Blueberries are a great example of antioxidant-rich food.

What is oxidative stress and how do antioxidants protect us against it?

Antioxidants. We've all heard of them, but do we actually know what they do, or why they're good for us? 

You'll have likely spotted the term on everything from food and drinks (such as healthy smoothies and juices) all the way to skin care products, but for many of us, it isn't immediately apparent why they are heralded as such a health sensation.

To help clear up the ambiguity, we are taking a look at antioxidants and how they help to combat the effects of oxidative stress.  

What is oxidative stress and free radicals? 

To understand why we should be thanking our lucky stars for antioxidants, it's important to know what they combat. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the production of free radicals which outweighs our body's antioxidant defences.

When the skin is exposed to environmental aggressors, the creation of free radicals can sometimes be triggered by:

• Exposure to UV Radiation (UVR)
• Smoking
• Air Pollution
• Poor Diet
• Stress

If you could imagine your skin is like a piece of iron, when a piece of iron rusts, oxygen latches onto it and oxidises it. The iron is weaker, flakier and less shiny than it was before. In effect, your skin is also "rusting" as it is subjected to oxidation and oxidative stress.

Find out in detail how the process works with Global Training Director, Tracey Beeby in the video below:

How do antioxidants work?

Antioxidants can neutralise free radicals by breaking them down, or by supplying an electron to make an even number in total and ensure all electrons are stabilised in pairs.

"Antioxidants stop the chain reaction of free radical formation and benefit our health by boosting our immune system," explains Dr K. Sandeep Prabhu from Penn State University.

However, in order to replace the antioxidants used up fighting off free radicals, it is important to eat a diet rich in antioxidants to support this incredibly important function. Some well known antioxidant-rich foods include blueberries, green tea and even dark chocolate.

But how else can we help to protect ourselves from oxidative stress and free radicals? By using powerful antioxidants as part of our skincare regimen.

Defending against oxidative stress with Ultraceuticals 

As UV exposure is a major risk factor for free radical damage, it is incredibly important that we take the necessary steps to protect ourselves from the harmful effects of the sun. One of the best ways to do this is with a high-quality sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30+ as well as having broad spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. 

However, it's important to remember that sunscreen can only do so much to protect against UV and environmentally generated free radicals, which is why antioxidants are so vital to our skin's health. 

Ultraceuticals' Ultimate Daily Environmental Protection range is a duo that works together for ultimate protection against skin ageing.

If you'd like to learn more about the state of your skin, you can book a professional consultation with one of our skin technicians.