Antioxidants: The Key for Healthy Skin
"Antioxidants are often considered the fountain of youth"
Victoria Lewis, a doctor of dermatology mentions in an article that “antioxidants are often considered the fountain of youth by skin-care professionals and experts. Not only do they (antioxidants) scavenge free radicals—the number one skin-aging culprits—to promote a brighter, more even complexion, they’re also the superstars at nixing fine lines and keeping skin looking fresh.”
This is due to its ability to eliminate oxidative stress and free radicals, which are “the number one skin-aging culprits.” Oxidative stress is caused by UV radiation from the sun, stress in the body, and highly processed foods containing sugar and fat.
Fortunately for palo azul tea lovers, a 2021 study found that palo azul tea "can reduce the oxidative stress caused by the imbalance between reactive oxygen species (ROS) because of its free radical scavenging activity."
What is oxidative stress and free radicals?
Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body.
Free radicals are atoms with a single valence electron that cause damage to the body associated with diabetes, cancer, aging, atherosclerosis, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and many other diseases.
This happens because electrons like to be in pairs... and for this reason, free radicals look for "free" electrons in the body. This causes damage to cells, proteins, DNA and these damaged molecules can mutate, grow tumors, and damage the DNA code. Eventually, this cellular damage causes new cells to grow with defects and it will lead to aging and degenerative diseases.
A 2022 study which supports the previous findings explains that oxidative stress "leads to the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) which facilitate further disease progression.
A 2018 study found that palo azul "showed antidiabetic and anti-hyperlipidemic activities, an ability to reduce the formation of advanced glycation end products, and an antioxidant capacity."
A 2014 study also found that "Eysenhardtia polystachya (palo azul) possesses considerable antioxidant activity with reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging activity and demonstrated an anti-AGEs and inhibits oxidative stress."
What is glycation, AGEs and ROS?
Glycation is the covalent attachment of a sugar to a protein or lipid. This process is responsible for many complications in diabetes mellitus, some diseases and in aging.
Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are proteins or lipids that become glycated as a result of exposure to sugars. A 2017 study explains that "AGEs form in hyperglycemic conditions and/or the natural process of aging. Numerous publications have demonstrated acceleration of the aging process by AGEs."
Reactive oxygen species are a type of unstable molecule that contains oxygen and that easily reacts with other molecules in a cell. A build up of reactive oxygen species in cells may cause damage to DNA, RNA, and proteins, and may cause cell death. Reactive oxygen species are free radicals.
A 2019 article explains that biological process by which glycation forms AGEs and accelerates aging:
"Glycation is a process which is caused by the presence of excess glucose in skin fibers. This excess triggers an internal reaction in which sugar molecules adhere to the collagen and elastin proteins, which normally help keep skin firm and supple.
In this process, advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) are formed. In time, these end-products make collagen rigid, meaning that it loses its ability to keep skin firm, and ultimately contributes to making us look older than we really are.
This process begins when we are about 20 and gradually intensifies. So, while it is a natural process, diets that are high in sugar accelerate glycation, causing more AGEs to form in the skin. This is why our face starts to “fall” and needs extra help to continue looking youthful."
In other words...palo azul showed the ability to inhibit oxidative stress, AGEs, and ROS which can damage our DNA and lead to accelerated aging and degenerative diseases.
Antioxidants & Skin Health
A 2010 study which supports the previous studies' findings, concluded that "the use of antioxidants is an effective approach to prevent symptoms related to photo-induced aging of the skin.” This study also mentions that "oxidative stress initiated by reactive oxygen species (ROS) advance skin aging, which is characterized by wrinkles and atypical pigmentation."
Moreover, the researchers say that "because UV enhances ROS generation in cells, skin aging is usually discussed in relation to UV exposure." This is why it's crucial to use sunblock!
Oxidative stress causes damage to skin cells, and this damage leads to wrinkles. For this reason, many pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies supplement their skin care products with tea extracts!
A doctor of dermatology, Dr. Mack, writes that “antioxidants protect your skin from this (oxidative stress) and help reduce pigmentation and fine lines and wrinkles.” He goes on to mention that in his opinion, “an antioxidant serum is a must for your skin-care routine.”
A 2014 study describes the importance of exogenous antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, since these and many others cannot be synthesized by the human body and must be absorbed through our diet.
The researchers mention that "since the effectiveness of the endogenous antioxidant system is diminished during aging, the exogenous supplementation of antioxidants might be a protective strategy against age-associated skin oxidative damage.”
This is their conclusion: “It can be concluded that oxidative stress is a problem of skin cells and endogenous as well as exogenous antioxidants could play an important role in decreasing it.”
Antioxidant-rich foods: apples, pears, onions, strawberries, blueberries, celery, peppers, and teas
Palo azul tea can promote skin health and prevent accelerated aging because it's antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-glycative. For this reasons, it has shown the ability to inhibit oxidative stress, AGEs, ROS, and scavenge free radicals which dermatologists consider to be "the number one skin-aging culprits."
Studies & Articles
* Palo azul is commonly referred to by its scientific name: Eysenhardtia polystachya / E. polystachya / E.P - Cyclolepis genistoides / C. genistoides - kidney wood - palo dulce