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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Holding back the years

To prevent wrinkles, protect your DNA from free radicals. Read on to find out more
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - July 22, 2010
By: Sheila Lim
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Holding back the years

Much research has been done to learn more about the ageing process and how to slow it down. Studies have found that the more skin cells your body has and the thicker these cells are, the healthier your skin will be and the fewer wrinkles you will have. And to prevent wrinkling, you need to protect your DNA from external and internal “aggressors” called free radicals.

The Free Radical Theory of Ageing
Free radicals are mostly oxygen-holding molecules with a very strong affinity for anything else that has electrons. These short-lived molecules, with an average life span of one-millionth of a second, are potent toxins that affect our bodies in negative ways. Free radicals destroy healthy cells by attacking their DNA.

How do free radicals come about

Firstly, free radicals are created as by-products when our cells oxidise food to create energy. The free radicals generated during this process are highly charged oxygen molecules which are harmful to the skin, and are usually neturalised by antioxidants like vitamins C and E.

The unstable free radical molecules vibrate in the skin, literally poking holes in the collagen fibres (vital support structures in a skin cell) of the dermis. After years of this free radical assault, the collagen deteriorates and eventually collapses, thus causing the skin to form wrinkles.

Secondly, the rapid rate at which skin cells divide results in a shorter life span for the cells; as we mature, the number of skin cells in our bodies gradually decreases. DNA damage also results from the constant access and utilisation of the cell nucleus for the production of protein and cell-repair activities. Over time, the process makes our skin increasingly thinner.

Thirdly, as the skin is an external organ, it is exposed to a multitude of damaging free radical assaults every day. These assaults come from sunlight (including UVA and UVB rays), pollution, stress, smoking and other causes. When you smoke a single stick of cigarette, you are generating trillions of free radicals!

Slowing down the ageing process
To extend your life span, improve your quality of life and maintain your youthfulness, the "inside-out" approach would be to adopt a healthier lifestyle. This means sticking to a regular exercise regime, not smoking, and ensuring that your diet includes enough vitamins (particularly A, C and E), minerals and nutrients.

To protect your skin from external elements that cause oxidative damage, it is necessary not only to maintain a good skincare regime but protect your skin against the damaging effects of UV rays.

To retard the ageing process, you could use creams and lotions that are specially formulated with antioxidants like Vitamin C to help restore moisture and stimulate collagen regeneration. However, it’s important for you to understand exactly what components are contained in the beauty creams you use and how they can help you succeed in your quest to hold back the years.

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