Ageing vs anti-ageing: what is oxidative stress, why does it matter and what you can do about it.

shutterstock_28717945Have you noticed the skin on your face getting a little less plump, a little dryer, a few more lines and maybe a little darker than it was a year or two ago? Do brown ‘freckles’ seem to be becoming more noticeable?  Often referred to as ‘signs of ageing’, what you are observing is actually ‘oxidative stress’, much like what you see in an apple about 15 minutes after having bitten into it. The important thing to remember is that while the ageing process may be more visible on our face, it is occurring in every cell of our body and therefore has an effect on the functioning of ALL our body systems.

It seems counter-intuitive that the very oxygen we need to maintain life can also have a deleterious effect on the human body but oxygen is a highly reactive substance; iron left out in the air reacts with oxygen and produces rust and the process is similar in our bodies. Oxidative stress is a by-product of all COMBshutterstock_227233042USTION processes, including the combustion that takes place in the cells of our body as they burn glucose for energy. When the glucose in our cells is burned up to give us energy, the byproduct is an uneven number of oxygen molecules which pass around the healthy cells trying to ‘attach’  to it.  This process damages the previously healthy cell
membrane and thereby affects the osmosis (what can get in and out of the cell such as nutrients, hormones, toxins etc) as well as its DNA which affects the ‘instructions’ that cell receives regarding reproduction of the cell itself as well as its production of hormones or enzymes.

We can therefore see how the normal functioning of our body produces harmful oxidative stress, but there are many external factors to bear in mind, some of which are unavoidable, but many that can be avoided if we are sufficiently mindful.

External factors that cause oxidative stress

  • Tobacco smoke
  • Exhaust fumes
  • Industrial pollution
  • Burnt or fried food
  • Excessive exposure to the sun
  • Radiation
  • Viruses and bacteria
  • Pesticides
  • Petroleum-based products
  • Alcohol.
  • Prolonged exposure to UV rays, including those in sunlight, which oxidises the elastin in the skin.

Natural Defences

Our body does have in-built defences against oxidative stress, particularly from sunlight:

  • Melanin, which gives us a tan, helps to protect our skin from UVA and UVB light.
  • Skin becomes thicker and more leathery on the stratus corner, the flyer of dead skin cells on the surface as a defence against UVA (not UVB)  This is so the delicate under-layer can be protected, but it does give our faces an aged, ‘weathered’ appearance.

Food as medicine: Anti-oxidants

The solution is ANTI-oxidants, the nutrients in our food that counteract the oxidative stress.  Whilst make-up and skin care products can often contain anti-oxidants, these are primarily to protect against UV light from sunlight and they do not have a beneficial effect on the interior of the body and the actual structure of the cells.  It is therefore wise to ensure you have a good intake of the following anti-oxidants, but remember that none work in isolation!  he benefit is in the ‘orchestra’ effect of nutrient-rich food.

  • Vitamins A C and E
  • beta-carotene
  • Bioflavonoids
  • Cysteine
  • Glutathione
  • co-Q10
  • Lipoic acid
  • selenium
  • zinc
  • copper
  • B vitamins
  • phytonutrients from plants EG 

Latest Research

Research has shown that taking anti-oxidant supplements reduces the risk of many illnesses we commonly associate with ageing, such as:

  • Alzheimers disease
  • Cancer
  • Cataracts
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Infertility
  • Macular degeneration
    Mental illness
  • Periodontal disease
  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.

Over to You…

At Barefoot Medicine we offer you internal and external solutions to help overcome both the visible and non-visible signs of ageing produced by oxidative stress.

Supplements – click the image to order

Juice Plus nutritional supplements are capsules containing super-concentrated juices from 30 varieties of fruit, vegetables  and berries. There is no glucose, lactose, artificial aromas or colours and there are no chemical stabilisers.  Whilst already vegan in Israel and other countries, over the coming weeks all capsules will be suitable fhealth-wellbeing-and-great-nutrition-supplements-from-juice-plusor vegans.

Several Independent clinical trials have demonstrated the benefits in overcoming oxidative stress.  Please ask if you would like to see the individual reports. We have chosen to recommend Juice Plus at Barefoot Medicine based on the sound independent scientific studies from universities and professional bodies around the world. This seems to be, in my opinion,  the most natural balance of nutrients which works synergistically in the body, rather than purchasing individual bottles of one supplement or another. 

Facial Revitalisation Acupuncture


Traditional Chinese Medicine has a long history of facial rejuvenation and revitalisation using a combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbs and dietary therapy.  Acupuncture treatment typically involves four needles on ankles and wrists and several into the fine lines on the face.  Needles used are very fine indeed and treatment seldom causes any bruising.  Various other techniques are also used such as using tiger warmers to warm and soothe the face whilst stimulating the circulation and derma-rollers to stimulate the micro-circulation  This relaxing facial lasts 50 minutes and should be repeated weekly for the first 12 weeks, then every 6-8 weeks, or more frequently during the colder, windier months when the skin can dry out very quickly. 

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