Our skin is the largest organ of our bodies. It inhales, exhales, detoxes, and protects us in so many ways. Like any other organ, it undergoes an age-related deterioration. But unlike other organs, the skin is directly exposed to environmental factors that can accelerate its aging, and make you look older than your biological age. Ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight age the skin more than almost any other factor, other than perhaps tobacco smoking, followed by poor diet. The greater the exposure to UV rays, the greater the skin damage – though the seriousness of the damage may not be obvious for two to three decades.
When skin ages, its constituent proteins (such as collagen and elastin) break down, lose their elasticity, allowing bulging, which puckers out between connective tissues and giving that cottage cheese appearance we know as cellulite. It also become tough and develop ridges. Fats, which normally give skin much of its flexibility, become stiffer and reduce the flow of nutrients into and waste products out of cells. These destructive processes can be slowed and to some extent reversed, the damage is best prevented or minimized.
There are a myriad of ways that the skin can go awry, being damaged by poor diets, too much sun exposure, wounds, and pollutants. When the collagen in the skin becomes depleted, the skin becomes weak, which shows as spotted, wrinkled, baggy skin that is prone to cellulite.
What can you do to prevent these issues, and at least slow them down? There are some helpful things which include dietary considerations, limited UV exposure, and anti-oxidant rich lotions:
A diet rich in nonstarchy vegetables* and fruits* can increase the reservoir of protective antioxidant vitamins, carotenoids, and flavonoids normally found in your skin. Researchers have found that eating a diet of fresh nonstarchy fruits and vegetables, fiber, fresh meat proteins, especially cold-water fish, avoiding drinks with sugar, caffeine, and artificial sweeteners, drinking plenty of water, and using uncooked natural omega 3 and omega 6 oils, are less likely to develop wrinkles.
Dr. Mark L. WAhlqvist of Monash University in Australia analyzed the diets of 453 elderly people of different ethnic groups. Wahlqvist carefully measured the amount of sun-related damage to the subjects’ skin, then looked for dietary patterns related to skin-aging. He found that people who consumed a lot of olive oil, beans, fish, vegetables, and other healthy foods experienced relatively little skin damage. Those who ate a lot of saturated fat, red meat, processed deli meats, sugary soft drinks, pastries, and potatoes were more likely to suffer premature skin damage.
Dr. Bernadette Eberlein-Konig of the dermatology clinic at the Technical University of Munich measured the responses of 20 men and women to artificial UV light. After giving the subjects 1,000 IU of natural vitamin E and 2,000 mg of vitamin C daily for eight days, Konig found that their resistance to sunburn increased by 20 percent. That resistance to sunburn indicated lower levels of inflammation and less damage to skin cells. In contrast, people taking a placebo became more sensitive to sunburn.
Wilhelm Stahl, PhD., of the Heinrich Heine University in Germany asked 36 men and women to take one of three supplements daily for twelve weeks: 24 mg of beta-carotene (equivalent to 40,00 IU): a mixed-carotenoid supplement containing 8 mg each of beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene; or a placebo. At the end of the study, tests indicated that both carotenoid supplements improved the subjects’ resistance to sunburn.
In another study, conducted at the University of Arizona, Ronald Watson, PhD., and his colleagues, asked 2 men and women to take natural beta-carotene supplements for almost six months. As the dosage increased from 30 to 90 mg, the subjects’ skin became increasingly resistant to sunburn from simulated sunlight.
A separate study identified at least one of the reasons beta-carotene protects against sunburn. Scientists at the University of Bath in England, determined how UV rays activated the HO-1 gene, which helps promote the inflammatory response in the skin after sunburn. Beta-carotene, however, suppressed the activity of the HO-1 gene.
Pycnogenol, a natural complex of antioxidants, derived from French maritime pine trees, has also been show to increase antioxidant reserves in the skin and build resistance to sunburn. Researchers asked 20 fair-skinned men and women to take Pycnogenol supplements (approx. 75 to 120 mg) daily for eight weeks. After four weeks the subjects were 40% more resistant to sunburn, and after eight weeks were 84% more resistant. Pycnogenol works partly by reducing the activity of two genes, calgranulin A and B, involved in skin disorders.
Several studies have determined that a combination of beta-carotene supplements, taken orally, and topical sunscreens are more effective for than sunscreen alone in protecting against sunburn. Skin creams and lotions rich in antioxidants, such as vitamin C or the herb chamomile, have been shown to reduce wrinkles and improve overall skin tone. Several studies have found that creams containing vitamin C can reverse some of the damage from ‘photoaging’ (sunlight induced damage) of the skin. Meanwhile, European researchers have found similar impressive benefits from chamomile-containing creams. One high quality, reliable brand of chamomile-containing creams and lotions if CamoCare.
Of course, exposure to the sun’s rays between about 10 am and 2 pm will give the most intense UV rays. It’s beneficial to spend a little time in the sun during early morning or late afternoon hours, so your body can intake vitamin D to make D3.
Cell hydration also leads to healthy skin, which shows in with a smooth healthy looking appearance. Consuming sugars, including drinks which have sugars, dehydrate the body and the skin greatly. Avoid pop, exercise drinks, and caffeine containing drinks, which all dehydrate the skin more than any hydration they may offer.
Nutritional scans performed with the IQS™ System can show you exactly how much of each nutrient your body is calling for, to take the guess work out of improving your health without overdoing any of the nutrients. In less than an hour, you’ll have a full report of what your body needs to heal itself and keep healthy.
With proper care you can improve your skin’s health and look!
*starchy vegetables and fruits include potatoes (except sweet potatoes), acorn squash, pumpkin, hubbard squash, butternut squash, buttercup squashes, breadfruit, bananas, pears, and grapes.
Feed Your Genes Right, by Jack Challem, 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken, NJ pg. 207-8
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