Oxidative stress is a very important form of attack that occurs in the body. We are exposed daily to oxidative and stressful factors through our diet, the environment we live in, the products of metabolism and lifestyle, such as smoking, alcohol consumption and exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
Oxidative stress stimulates the production of unstable molecules or reactive oxygen species (ROS), as they are more widely known, or free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that are created as byproducts of normal metabolism (endogenous) and environmental stress (exogenous), and are responsible for cellular lesions primarily targeting cells that are rich in unsaturated fatty acids (the cell membrane) and sensitive to oxidation reactions. The onset of degenerative disease can occur when the body is constantly exposed to this type of stress and working overtime, which crash our defensive system.
Studies show that Oxidative stress stimulates the production of free radicals, which can denature proteins, alter cell cycles and influence the release of pro-inflammatory mediators (i.e., cytokines), which may trigger the induction of certain Inflammatory skin diseases.
It has also been proven that free radicals may be involved in the pathogenecity of allergic reactions in the skin. Ultraviolet radiation is a major source of Oxidative stress for the skin. In addition to the production of free radicals, ultraviolet radiation adversely affects the skin’s anti-oxidative enzymes against oxidation, leaving it even more vulnerable to permanent cell damage (accelerating aging of the skin). The concept of systematic protection against ultraviolet radiation through micro nutrient supplements is the cornerstone.
There is a growing mass of research that shows that certain micro-nutrients and antioxidants can, potentially, mitigate and destroy the free radicals produced.
Free Radicals & Nutrition
Nutrition is the basis of the path leading to ideal health. Antioxidants help to regulate and maintain a healthy defense system to repel stress-causing agents (such as free radicals) and, at the same time, speed up the aging process.
Antioxidants contained in the diet, especially in beans, in dark-colored fruits, green tea, garlic and in herbs such as turmeric, cinnamon or rosemary, work together to support the immune system against Oxidative stress. Whether slow or rapid, antioxidants through diet have to be produced on a daily basis as they are quickly destroyed and absorbed by potentially harmful free radical molecules.
To monitor the uptake of antioxidants via diet, a tool, ORAC unit was used. It was developed by scientists from the National Institute of Health and is a method of measuring the antioxidant response of various foods.
Although the exact relationship between the ORAC value of food and the immediate health benefit from it is still under specification, it is proposed to incorporate foods higher in the ORAC scale, which could potentially protect and slow down Oxidative stress factors that contribute to accelerating aging and disease.
When comparing ORAC values, the units of measurement must be consistent when comparing different nutrients. For example, watermelon may have a lower ORAC value, but this is mainly due to the weight of water. Similarly, herbs and spices may perform well in the ORAC scale, but they are generally found in small quantities and not in the same amount as food. This is a disadvantage of ORAC diet and for this it has been criticized for inconsistencies. However, the knowledge and incorporation of foods that are higher in the rating scale for antioxidants can be a useful tool. An even more useful tool is the measurement of Oxidative stress in specialized centers of functional medicine.
Although our goal is to get all the nutrients through our diet, the uncomfortable truth is that this goal is a daily challenge. Diet supplementation, taking antioxidants through functional foods, beverages or supplements, becomes a critical element in the system of functional medicine.
Specialized prescription supplements by specialized doctors of functional medicine offer formulations aiming at oxidative stress while helping to protect the skin internally, preventing skin destruction and the activity of free radicals.