The year is 1956. Eisenhower is President. Cigarettes are still "good for you." I Love Lucy is the most-watched show on TV. Rocky retires without ever losing a match. And in commercials, in ad campaigns, on billboards and on television, adults are reminding their healthy, round-cheeked children to eat their fruits and veggies.
Times have changed; "fruits and veggies" just won't cut it anymore. Bananas have too much sugar. Potatoes have too much starch and too few nutritional benefits. The President reportedly eats McDonald's every day. You need healthy fats and leafy greens; large, lavish salads featuring every color of the goddamn rainbow for a well-balanced diet and for Instagram. And antioxidants are not just at the forefront of every dietary need — they've long dominated the skin-care industry, too.
Antioxidants are more essential now than ever before, for the same reasons we've also become more aware of what it is we need protection against: the knowledge of worsening environmental pollution, oxidative stress, smog, poor lifestyle choices, pretty much anything that isn't living in a climate-controlled bubble consistently pumped full of fresh air. Also, free radicals, a confusing (to the scientifically disinclined mind) term for what dermatologist Harold Lancer, MD, FAAD, described as "unstable molecules that damage cells and exist as a result of environmental pollution and lifestyle abuse."
Of course, most doctors will agree that the best way to get your antioxidants is to actually consume them. "All topical regimens benefit from a greens-based, healthy diet, but if you're especially focused on fighting oxidation and oxidative stress, then changing your diet will help a great deal," Dr. Lancer said.
So you can eat your weight in organic blueberries and bury yourself alive under the weight of your bulk orders of dried goji berries... or you can address the problem on a superficial level first. We all have to start somewhere, and sometimes that somewhere is your skin-care routine. Ahead, the smartest, most effective ways to get your antioxidants without having to spend a single second feeling overwhelmed in the produce aisle.
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