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Sun Damage & Bad Air

How Do You Survive The Wear & Tear Summer Weather?

Q: I need some help to survive the summer months.  I’m fair-skinned and always worry about sun damage, and I struggle with asthma and breathing issues when it gets humid in the Toronto summer months. Can you help?

A:  These are issues that plague many people in the GTA… and globally.  The key to combating both of the above concerns is boosting ANTIOXIDANTS. First, a quick review about oxidative damage. Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons that form in response to stress, damage or illness. This process is known as oxidative damage. Antioxidants help reduce free radical injury to cells and tissues by donating an electron.

Lung Health: Data shows that the accumulation of pollutants in the airways and lungs results in systemic inflammation and oxidative stress. Studies show an increased prevalence of asthma in developed countries, where air pollution is greater, and suggests that environmental exposures are important in the development of this disease.

NAC, N-Acetyl-Cysteine, is the precursor for Glutathione, one of the most powerful antioxidants in the body because of its great stability when donating an electron. Glutathione resides in healthy lungs, but when exposed to smoke, pollutants, infections etc, the lungs can become depleted in glutathione. When levels are low, the body is more susceptible to infection and asthma attacks. NAC and Glutathione also protect the liver and brain from acquired pollutants, while NAC helps the body build protein, break down mucus, boosts the immune system, is used to treat many lung associated conditions like emphysema and bronchitis, and supports general lung function.

Quercetin, one of the most biologically active bioflavonoids, is helpful for congestion, mild allergies and breathing issues. Its benefits are due to its antioxidant and immune system modulating effects.  As an antioxidant it helps quell oxidative damage brought on by chemicals and pollutants that irritate lung function. In the immune system, it helps keep mast cells stable and reduces their likelihood to release histamine, the molecule responsible for allergy symptoms. Quercetin’s effects are also enhanced by its synergistic relationship with Vitamin C, another immune supporter and antioxidant.

Sun protection: Each time the skin is exposed to UV radiation, free radicals form in the skin. This breaks down fats, protein, DNA in the cells, and elastin and collagen in the skin.  The process promotes sunburns, accelerated aging of skin, and non-melanoma skin cancer. Antioxidants to the rescue again! As mentioned already, antioxidants are critical in helping quell oxidative damage.

Pycnogenol, an antioxidant in pine bark extract, is great for skin care because it binds with the proteins, collagen and elastin in skin and protects it. Studies have shown that pycnogenol reduces UV-B radiation and oxidative damage, and because of its relationship to elastin and collagen it also helps maintain the integrity of skin in general. A win-win for healthy beautiful-looking skin.

To help you prepare for the summer months of sun and smog, consider supplementing with an antioxidant complex to protect yourself against free radical-related health concerns.