Wrinkles, sagging skin, discolouration – everyone knows the signs of ageing skin. What you may not know is the cause: oxidative stress. When oxyge
Wrinkles, sagging skin, discolouration – everyone knows the signs of ageing skin. What you may not know is the cause: oxidative stress.
When oxygen molecules in your body are split – a normal part of how we function – those unpaired molecules go rogue and start looking around for electrons to pair up with. In the process, these free radical molecules can damage cells, proteins, and even DNA.
The most serious results of this include cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, but the most common is simply ageing. Lifestyle factors like alcohol, tobacco smoke, and fried foods all increase oxidative stress, but the biggest contributor is UV radiation from the sun.
Antioxidants are able to neutralise free radicals before they cause damage. That means a daily dose of antioxidants helps slow down or even reverse the effects of oxidative stress.
Berries to the rescue
Berries are coming to be seen as superfoods, and their high levels of antioxidants are the main reason why! Berries are simply overflowing with these healthy molecules, as well as anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and resveratrol (we’ll explain why those are important in a moment).
So, including more berries in your diet is a great idea. Conveniently, freezing them doesn’t reduce the benefits, so buy in bulk and add them to breakfast or dessert. You can also absorb the berry goodness through your skin. Try incorporating Okana’s Berry Blend Night Moisturiser into your bedtime skincare ritual – it delivers the benefits of blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries.
The Blackberry: free radicals’ arch enemy
As a rule of thumb, the darker the berry, the richer it is in antioxidants, so blackberries really pack an antioxidant punch.
They contain vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, and lots of anthocyanins, the flavanoids that give berries their colours. Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants and also have anrti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. There is also research suggesting they enhance heart health, reduce unhealthy weight gain, and may inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells.
Blackberry extract has been shown to protect skin from UVB damage through antioxidant activity. On top of all this, the vitamin C in blackberries promotes collagen production and helps decrease the chance of dry skin.
The Raspberry: rich in micronutrients
Raspberry extract is rich in ellagic acid, which has been shown to help prevent collagen destruction and inflammation following continued exposure to UVB. Other studies suggest it has a photoprotective effect, which means it helps the skin to cope with molecular damage caused by sunlight.
Raspberries also contain tiliroside, which reduces melanin production and can help lighten, brighten, and even out the colour of your complexion. That’s why it’s common to find raspberry oil or extract in sunscreens.
The Blueberry: queen of the berries
Blueberries get a lot of good press, and it’s well deserved. They are arguably the most super of all superfruits and there’s plenty of research to back up their benefits.
Whether you eat them or apply them topically in a skincare product, blueberries deliver a potent mix of vitamins A, C, and E. These vitamins work together to assist cell turnover, which helps to firm and tighten your skin.
Blueberries also contain resveratrol and a very high level of anthocyanins, which are both powerful antioxidants.
Getting berries into your daily diet
As we mentioned earlier, frozen berries are just as nutritious as fresh berries, if not moreso. They’re cheaper, which makes it easier to eat some every day.
Check out these ideas to increase your berry intake:
- Add frozen berries to porridge
- Sprinkle frozen raspberries in any savoury salad – their sharp sweetness goes perfectly with lettuce, capsicum, cucumber, and tomatoes
- Make berry pancakes or muffins
- Use your blender to make a berry sauce to pour over cereal, ice cream or waffles (strain the pips out if you prefer a smooth sauce)
- Add a handful of berries to your favourite smoothies
- Add berries to your any cake recipe – from chocolate to banana, every cake is better with berries
- Make a healthy dessert with frozen berries, Greek yoghurt, and a little honey
Limit oxidative stress in your life
While berries and other sources of antioxidants are an amazing way to offset the effects of free radicals, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is just as important. To keep your skin healthy – along with the rest of you – try the following:
- Limit alcohol consumption – no need to be a teetotaller, but too much alcohol ages you at a lightning pace
- Don’t smoke – avoiding cigarettes is just good life advice, but if you need an extra incentive, cigarettes wreak havoc on your appearance as well as your lungs
- Eat a balanced diet – fried food tends to create more free radicals, so balance your diet out with lots of fruit, vegetables, and legumes
But the biggest factor is photoaging, the damage done to your skin by exposure to the sun’s rays.
This is especially important if you have pale skin. A light complexion means less melanin and therefore less natural sun protection. If you have dark skin, you can handle a bit more sun but UV rays can still do damage.
The most obvious strategies for preventing photoaging are avoiding direct sun on your skin at the times of day when UV is highest and wearing effective sunscreen. Daily use of sunscreen may even reverse the damage caused by UV.