Sure, they’re more likely to occur after you reach “a certain age” but they are not inevitable… in spite of what you may have learned. Those “inevitable” signs of aging are actually caused by oxidative damage. Not old age, at all.
In order to understand oxidative damage, you first have to understand oxidative stress because oxidative stress causes oxidative damage. So…what exactly is oxidative damage?
The First Step to Oxidative Damage: Oxidative Stress
Officially, oxidative stress “reflects an imbalance between the systemic manifestation of reactive oxygen species and a biological system's ability to readily detoxify the reactive intermediates or to repair the resulting damage.” But…what does that mean?
At its most simplistic, your body is made up of cells. Those cells are made up of molecules, and molecules are made up of atoms. Atoms are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Each atom needs an even number of electrons in order to stay stable, or “nonreactive”.
When our bodies are exposed to certain things – pollutants, chemicals, even water and sunlight – they are also exposed to free radicals. Free radicals are structures with unpaired, or an odd number of, electrons, searching for other electrons to pair with because they are unstable, or “reactive”.
It Sounds Complicated, But It’s Really Quite Simple…
As free radicals rip electrons away from other atoms or molecules in order to become stable, they actually create more free radicals. And these new free radicals make even more free radicals, like dominoes falling. This is oxidative stress.
While oxidative stress is never good, when you’re younger, your body is more capable of handling it. But, like anything else, as your body ages, it begins to slow down and doesn't work as efficiently as it did when you were younger. Years of exposure to free radicals takes its toll. And that’s when oxidative stress becomes oxidative damage….
The True Dangers of Oxidative Damage
Since oxidative damage can occur in every cell in your body, it can show up anywhere in your body – from the wrinkles and spots on your skin, to how smoothly your joints move, all the way to how well your cardiovascular system works.
But just because you’re seeing and feeling oxidative damage doesn't mean you have to live with it.
That’s because antioxidants can fight back against the signs of oxidative damage, even to the point of reversing it in some cases!
Antioxidants are molecules that can interact with free radicals without getting caught up in the falling dominoes. In other words, they don’t become free radicals themselves. Instead, they stabilize the free radicals, stopping the oxidative damage from spreading.
Sometimes, antioxidants can even smooth out your skin, lighten those dreaded dark spots, or slow the effects of aging. And antioxidants are incredibly easy to work into your diet. Look for fruits and vegetables with dark, rich colors, like blueberries and spinach, to start slowing the effects of oxidative damage.
You can even add a natural antioxidant supplement to your current diet, in order to help you get all the protection your body needs (and continue feeling great). Check out our full selection right here!
Making Sense of Oxidative Damage
So let’s look at that official definition again…
“Systemic manifestation” means something is happening throughout the whole system – the body.
"Of reactive oxygen species” equals those unstable, reactive free radicals.
“Detoxify the reactive intermediates” – that’s hitting back at the free radicals with antioxidants.
“The resulting damage” is oxidative damage – those signs of aging you always assumed were inevitable. Which means the “imbalance” is your body’s inability to fight off free radicals, because you don’t have enough antioxidants, so you deal with oxidative stress and oxidative damage.
The free radical-oxidative stress-oxidative damage cycle seems complicated and confusing at first glance, but it doesn't have to be. Just like premature aging doesn't have to be inevitable. Not when you realize all you need is some clear information – and the right antioxidants!