Wrinkles, skin blemishes, premature aging of tissues but also dermatitis and acne, even if these disorders affect different moments in life, they have a point in common, they are all worsened by air pollution. But, fortunately, we can fight the damage of pollution on the skin thanks to foods rich in antioxidants that we can choose to bring to the table. This is the result of a recent article published in Scientific Food and Nutrition Research by an Italian team (Nobile et al, FNR, 2021).
The link between pollution, wrinkles and acne
Our skin has a natural barrier that protects it from external threats, including air pollution caused, for example, by cigarette smoke, car exhaust and industrial fumes. However, in case of continuous and prolonged exposure to these pollutants, as occurs in our cities, the skin barrier is not sufficient and eventually pollution, especially particulate matter, penetrates the skin and alters its balance. In particular, pollution causes an increase in free radicals in the skin and the release of pro-inflammatory substances, with damage to DNA and the degradation of collagen. Hence, the result is premature aging of the skin, resulting in the appearance of dark spots, wrinkles all over the face and in the nasolabial region. But the increase in inflammation also causes the worsening, in predisposed people, of acne, eczema and atypical dermatitis. Therefore, the enemy of the skin is not only UV rays but also air pollution.
A diet rich in antioxidants to fight pollution damage
Topical application of antioxidant-containing products has been shown to be beneficial to combat pollution damage on the skin, however, this is not sufficient since many pollutants can arrive to the skin from the inside, once they are inhaled or ingested. Therefore, to combat premature aging caused by pollutants, it is also necessary to supplement one's diet with foods rich in antioxidants. For example, previous studies have been able to observe that the polyphenols of blueberries, green tea, grapes and pomegranates are able to attenuate skin oxidative stress caused by pollution. In the study we are talking about today, the researchers demonstrated in vivo the protective and anti-aging effects of a supplement containing extracts of rosemary, olive leaves, lemon verbena and sophora Japonica. In fact, the active ingredients of these plants, such as the oleuropein of the olive leaves, the carnosic acid of the rosemary, the verbascoside of the verbena and the rutin of the sophora Japonica, are considered powerful anti-aging substances, capable of counteracting the damage of various pollutants.
Fewer wrinkles and spots with antioxidants, the experiment
100 women between the ages of 35 and 65 were recruited, all living in urban areas and spending at least two hours outdoors in the city. The study participants were divided into two groups. The first group was asked to take the supplement containing 250 ml of antioxidants extracted from plants every day for 3 months. The second group took a placebo. Both at the beginning of the experiment and for its entire duration, the volunteers underwent a visit to assess the state of health of the skin, therefore the depth of wrinkles, the presence of skin spots, the degree of hydration and elasticity. What emerged was that the supplement was able to bring significant improvements to the skin, even after a few weeks of use. In fact, just after two weeks of taking the antioxidant extracts, the skin was more toned and elastic, even smoother with a reduction in the depth of wrinkles, especially in the eye contour area. Not only that, the skin was brighter, on average five times more than the skin of those who took the placebo, and the skin spots had lightened, almost three times more than in the placebo group. Finally, the antioxidants taken through the supplement had made it possible to reduce the loss of water from the skin, thus leaving it more hydrated.
Foods for glowing skin
Antioxidants fight free radical damage, inflammation and cellular degeneration. From today, we also know that they give us younger and fresher skin since they help fight the action of pollutants, which, on the contrary, worsen wrinkles, blemishes and acne. Therefore, for the health of body and skin, it is good to never miss foods and drinks rich in anti-aging substances, such as berries, green tea, pomegranate but also rosemary, to be added to the dishes, olive leaves and verbena with which prepare healthy herbal teas.