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The Natural Solution to Free Radicals and Skin Aging with Dr. Michele Burklund, NMD - Blog Puriya

August 22, 2019

In this Q&A session, Dr. Michele Burklund, Puriya’s Chief Science Officer, talks about antioxidants, where to find them and how they fight skin aging and free radicals present in the body.

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Right below, you will find the transcript of this video.


(00:00) – Hey everyone! Today we are talking about antioxidants for the skin, and these ingredients are called the Foundation of Youth by dermatologists. And a lot of you might be familiar with this term, antioxidants, but do you know if your skin care products actually contain the right ones and if they are actually biologically active at the time you apply it or most importantly, if the science matches the claims. So hi! I’m Michele Burklund. I’m the Chief Science Officer here at Puriya. And besides researching and formulating for new products, part of my role as Chief Science Officer is to help answer your questions and educate you on natural health and botanical medicine.

(00:46) – So here at Puriya, we believe holistic health encompasses everything from what you put on your body and what you put in your body. So every week, a lot of you guys might be familiar with this now, we talk about different subjects that has to do with wellness and holistic living and whatever that encompasses. It could be mind-body… The mind-body connection, meditation, more about botanicals, different perspectives on health and like last week, we had Dr. Elena Zinkov talk about sugar cravings. So every Friday at 10:00 AM Pacific Standard Time, we are going to be talking about different topics, about our product line here at Puriya, about different conditions, and of course, any questions that you have as well.

(01:35) – So while I’m waiting for more people to join in, I wanna remind all of you, feel free to follow us here on Facebook Live so you can find out when our next session is and what the topic is and also our future interviews. The next interview we have coming up is very exciting. It’s about body positivity, which is a huge topic, and here at Puriya, we celebrate it and we wanna educate people too on being at peace with your body, body positivity and everything that comes with it, so that’s our next interview session. You can also sign up for a newsletter and when you do, you also get our free e-book on clean living, and you’ll be notified of any future interviews we do.

(02:25) – So I’ll start off with the first question and it is, how do antioxidants help the skin? And to answer this question, we have to first discuss free radicals. And I don’t wanna go into too much chemistry here, but free radicals overall… What they are is unstable atoms, and they’re missing in their outer shell an electron, and that’s what makes them unstable. And because they are missing that electron, they’re looking for something to bind to and steal an electron away. But what this does is it creates this chain reaction and so one free radical will bind and grab another electron and then it will create this situation of oxidative stress.

(03:11) – So when we speak of antioxidants, we need to understand the role of free radicals to see where they come in and how they can neutralize it. And what happens from oxidative stress is that it can lead to aging, wrinkles, and damage of the skin. So what antioxidants do is they come along and they donate one of their electrons to these free radicals which neutralize them. So it stops them from running around and looking for different things to bond to and it stops that oxidative stress. So what antioxidants do is actually stop that chain reaction, and that’s how it prevents the damage. And it’s interesting. Studies have actually shown that people who suffer from psoriasis have consistent signs of oxidative stress, with plasma levels of MDA elevated, which means that the body’s natural systems of protecting itself and creating antioxidants can actually be negatively affected from psoriasis. So that’s something very interesting in itself too is, not only does the body develop free radicals on a regular basis, but there are diseases, external conditions and many other things that can affect that balance as well.

(04:28) – And we will jump into the next question, and it is, how are free radicals created? How are these molecules created in the body, and where do they come from? Well, free radicals are actually a normal by-product of the body’s oxygen metabolism, and the body has its own mechanisms to keep them in balance. But there are many factors that can increase the production of free radicals and change that balance where you will need extra help. We’re gonna go over some of the basics that can increase free radicals. Smoking, I’m sure many people have heard this before but it’s always important to talk about. Smoking is a huge one. Even one puff of a cigarette can greatly change the amount of oxidative stress in the body. Diet, Eating processed foods, fried foods, all of these things also can increase the body’s burden of free radicals.

(05:23) – Now air pollution is also an external factor that can do that, and I want to talk about both indoors and outdoors, because I was in China for a long time and it was the first time I really experienced pollution. You take clean air for granted in most of America and you go to different countries and then you realize that that’s a huge issue. But what is also a huge issue is indoor pollution. From dust, from pet dander, from off-gassing a new carpet or materials. So there’s all these different things, and I want you to pay attention not only to air pollution that we commonly associate with outdoor, but also indoor for our skin. UV exposure is definitely a big one. Alcohol intake and the products you use. So in our e-book, we go into further detail about indoor pollution and plants that can help clean the air indoor and also about the products you use. I’m gonna talk about some statistics here.

(06:28) – The average adult uses nine personal care products each day and that totals, on average, 126 unique chemical ingredients from these products. And one out of five adults in the US are potentially exposed to all of the top seven carcinogenic impurities found in personal care products. So with this information, I just want you to become more aware of your daily routine. And start to look at the ingredients in your skincare products, in your shampoos, in your lotions, in your laundry detergents because what they have could create a negative effect and could also increase the free radical damage in your body and in your skin. So all of these things are important to bring up, and the overall goal is clean living. Keep it simple, use ingredients closest to the earth, make sure your home is clean, use clean candles, all of those things are important too. And we go into clean candles more in the e-book too, which if you sign up for our newsletter you can get it as a free download.

(07:38) – And it’s a great guide, it just gives a lot of great practical information. And also in previous Q and A sessions, I recommend people going to the Environmental Working Groups website. And what that is is it’s an amazing place that has so many different skincare products and other products that you can actually look up, and it can help educate you on what is in your products. So the next thing I wanna talk about is finding the right antioxidants that are both biologically active and stable when applied topically. So both of those things matter quite a bit of… Just because it’s an antioxidant, theoretically through your food, how does it react in your skin and does it work by the time you actually put it on? So the term antioxidant is used very often in skincare products, but doesn’t actually have antioxidant actions. And we could discuss this topic for a long time, but overall, the message is that there’s a lot of products on the market with both inadequate concentration of antioxidants, the antioxidants that they use in the formulation might not be studied topically.

(08:49) – And something I really wanna talk about is the packaging of the skincare product because if it’s not okay, if it’s not dark in color, it can actually degrade the ingredients before application. So we’ll go on into detail about that part in a little bit as well. So some of the top antioxidants I wanna talk about have been around for a while and they’ve been highly studied for topical use. One of them is vitamin A. The vitamin A has long been known as a powerful anti-aging ingredient and it’s been extensively studied for its ability to accelerate cell renewal and repair. A lot of people don’t mind associating vitamin A with dryness or irritation, but most of these associations are often linked to the prescription strength of vitamin A in specific creams. So when I speak about vitamin A as a powerful antioxidant, using that in a formulation, you would use it as a lower concentration and you’d mix it with other antioxidants to work synergistically.

(09:57) – And vitamin A, there’s so many great studies that have been proven to show its antioxidant ability and how it can work synergistically with so many other great antioxidants. And I want to talk you guys about one of my favorite oils, rosehip seed oil, that actually contains large amounts of vitamin A and Retinoic acid. And because vitamin A and Retinoic acid have been studied so well, rosehip seed oil is a great natural way to utilize that vitamin D in a good concentration with other nourishing ingredients that rosehip seed oil has in it to help reduce fine lines and wrinkles, improve pigmentation and the texture of the skin. So when the oil is applied topically, when we’re discussing in that rosehip seed oil, to the skin then it acts on the cell membrane, supports the keratin migration cycle to enable faster rate of cells to regenerate. So I think this is like a great little tip, to open your eyes and think about other ways of how you can use vitamin A in your skincare product. Doesn’t necessarily have to be the isolated vitamin, but so many other great oils or other things contain vitamin A as well. And as a naturopathic doctor, I always want to discuss the food options too. So vitamin-A-rich foods. Some of them include salmon’s eggs, cod liver oil, carrots, and leafy greens.

(11:31) – Now, I will also want to talk about… Vitamin A is an amazing antioxidant and it’s great at preventing and helping repair damage to the skin but it can also make your skin a little more sensitive to UV exposure. So part of protecting your skin and having all these great antioxidants is reducing the free radicals that appear on your skin and in your body. And UV exposure actually increases free radicals, so if you do use vitamin A, I want to remind all of you, and in general, to find an amazing sun protection cream that is mineral based like zinc oxide and no nano particles. So just a great overall sun protection with all these great antioxidants will work synergistically.

(12:28) – And one of my favorite antioxidants is vitamin E. So this is kind of like the classic, it’s been around for a long time. You see it in a lot of ingredients but it works and that’s why it’s still in so many. Vitamin A, vitamin E are very powerful antioxidants. And it’s known for its ability to accelerate the skin’s healing ability in the oil. If you’ve ever used vitamin E oil, it’s very rich and soothing for the skin. And studies have shown that the application of vitamin C and vitamin E actually works synergistically together when they’re applied topically. So when you combine different antioxidants, they have a more powerful approach and they have a unique approach too. So I highly recommend that when we’re looking at different skincare products. And here at Puriya, we’ve always taken that into account when we formulate our products as well. So some food sources for vitamin E include different nuts and seeds. So sunflower seeds, hazel nuts, broccoli, spinach, other leafy greens, and salmon as well.

(13:36) – So moving on to vitamin C. I’m sure all of you guys are very familiar with vitamin C at this point, and it’s because a lot of skincare companies still use it because it works. These are like the classics that have been proven to work and they can do great things for your skin, especially vitamin C, because besides its ability to neutralize free radicals, its antioxidant ability, it also can support collagen production and fade dark spots. So vitamin C has a lot of great properties that you can utilize in so many different ways too. One very important thing, and I actually say this a lot if I go into grocery stores or different stores that have vitamin C in their cream is that the packaging of the cream needs to be opaque, it needs to be dark, so the sun… So light won’t penetrate, because it loses its potency. So it’s so important. One of the things to make sure that antioxidants work on the skin is to protect them in the jar and packaging.

(14:44) – So when you are looking for different skin creams, you can really separate out if they understand the chemistry or appreciate the antioxidants in there as how they take care of them and how they package them. One thing that drives me crazy too is if I’m walking down the street and I’m passing an herb shop, and I see all these beautiful medicinal herbs in the window. It’s beautiful, it’s great to see, but if the herbs… It’s the same thing as vitamin C, if they’re in the window and they have direct sunlight on them they’re going to lose their potency, and it can increase oxidation. So I just wanna remind all of you when you’re looking for products, look at the storage of the products and how they package them too ’cause it’s very important to maintain that when you’re looking at antioxidants. And interestingly, The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology states that if the cream’s primary purpose is focused on vitamin C, then the concentration range should be roughly 10% to 20%.

(15:46) – And if you go to stores and you see the marketing for vitamin C creams, you notice that there are so many different concentrations out there, and if that’s the primary focus, 10% to 20% is the perfect number, they’ve actually showed that if it’s higher than 20%, there’s no additional benefit. But today, when people are formulating, you’ll also notice that it’s not just vitamin C, it’ll be vitamin C, vitamin E, and different ones together which forms that synergy so you don’t necessarily need that concentration if it’s not just focused on the vitamin C. Another one that I like to talk about that’s been highly studied as an antioxidant is. So green tea, the leaves, contain about 30% of polyphenols, and when we discuss those those are incredibly important antioxidants, they’ve been shown in so many different studies and extensive studies that they prevent cell damage and reduce the formation of free radicals.

 (16:45) – So that’s another great classic that you’re going to see, there’s a lot of studies for it, and it works. It’s a great antioxidant both internally and externally. And of course, when you drink green tea there’s so many other health benefits too, so as a naturopathic doctor I’m gonna talk about not only topically, but how it is orally as well. And what I always like about green tea, especially if I’m trying to tell patients to choose something else other than coffee, is that green tea contains caffeine, but it also contains something called theanine. So when you drink it, you feel energized, you feel awake, but the theanine component, and it actually helps relax you at the same time and reduce that anxiety. So green tea is an excellent alternative, especially for coffee and other drinks, because it helps energize you and balance you at the same time. And that is the beauty of botanical medicine and how the whole plant works together to balance your body when you have all elements. Most of you might not have actually heard of white tea though, and I wanna discuss this too.

 (17:56) – So green tea is a powerful polyphenol, it has a huge amount of antioxidants, and white tea is also a great source of antioxidants, it comes from the same plants as green tea, but the leaves and the buds are actually picked before they open, and they’re covered with these little fine white hairs, and that’s where it gets its name. So white tea is the least processed form of the tea. And from the same plant you get white tea, green tea, and black tea. But what I like about white tea particularly is its high amount of antioxidants, and it’s a very gentle subtle taste too. So a lot of products also use polyphenols from white tea as well as green tea but it all comes from the same plant, it just has to do with processing. So I wanna remind all of you too, all these great antioxidants, they do amazing things, they neutralize those free radicals, and we want them to do that. But at the same time, I wanna remind all of you to help protect your skin from UV exposure, to also decrease those free radicals in other ways as well.

 (19:09) – Now, there’s a lot of great ways you can also increase antioxidants in your diet, and that’s an entirely other topic because we can go incredibly deep on all the fruits, all the vegetables, so many great things that are high in antioxidants. And when you eat antioxidants, it’s not just focused on the skin, its focused on your whole body. So it’s more of a systemic approach to having lots of different effects and lots of different… When you neutralize free radicals on a systemic level. But we always support that, and I want everyone to know that the best foundational support you can have for building antioxidants is through your diet because if you are not getting enough nutrients or if you’re not getting enough vitamins then no product can work well enough if you don’t have that initial support.

 (20:05) – So keep your diet optimal, focus on antioxidant-rich foods and then try to reduce your free radical exposure. Whether it’s different foods you eat, fried foods, other things, pollution, chemicals in your products too, all of those things create more burden for your body to neutralize during the day. And when you are shopping for skin antioxidants, look at the bottling and see if it’s okay or if it’s a darker color to see how this company is taking care of the antioxidants that are going to be going on your skin. And so just a reminder that all the great skin antioxidants, some of the most studied ones include vitamin C, vitamin E, and green tea extract as well. So I hope all of you have an amazing weekend, and I will see you next week and we’ll be discussing another topic. So have an amazing week and take care.

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