In our last discussion, the factors that cause aging were discussed. Aging affects your entire body, not just the skin. Address your general health issues, and you will have clearer, healthier looking skin. There are many things you can do to slow down or, in some cases, help reverse the signs and symptoms of aging.
As discussed in Part 1, these are the most common theories of aging which are supported by research and are generally accepted in the scientific community are:
1. Oxidation or Free Radical Damage.
2. DNA Damage.
3. Mitochondrial Burnout.
5. Lipofuscin Accumulation.
6. Chronic Inflammation.
7. Telomere Shortening.
The goal in slowing the aging process is to avoid as many of these conditions as possible that are within your control. That is, reduce exposure to free radicals, mutagens that destroy DNA, prevent mitochondrial burnout, lessen the chance of glycation and lipofuscin accumulation, avoid any substances or treatments which induce chronic inflammation, and keep your telomeres long for as long as possible. Also, look at adding supplements to your diet to augment the nutrients from your food. Many people are not eating enough of the right kinds of food to keep their body healthy.
I will address specific things you can do to prevent aging on the skin, but before we go into those, here is a healthy lifestyle regimen which will slow down aging in general. These are things that have numerous studies to back up their benefits, but it’s also just common sense. If you resolve yourself to do as many of these things on a daily basis, you will feel and look much younger in a matter of a few months.
Healthy Lifestyle Regimen to Slow Aging
1. Avoid things that produce free radicals such as unnecessary x-rays, excessive exposure to UV rays. Do not smoke or be around 2nd hand smoke. Cigarette smoke is highly toxic and a known mutagenic and carcinogenic substance. It causes accelerated wrinkling and blotchy skin. Similarly, avoid exposure to other toxins and chemicals as well. If you stay with mostly natural substances, things found in nature, your chance of being exposed to mutagens and toxins will be reduced.
2. Avoid irritants and inflammatory ingredients as those increases free radical activity. A couple good sources of information for ingredient safety is the Environmental Working Group Cosmetic Safety Database at http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/ and the Milady Skin Care and Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary.
3. To aid in repairing free radical damage and give your skin a natural glow, eat plenty of colorful high-fiber vegetables and fruits such as broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, spinach, kale, radishes, berries, carrots, peppers, apples, oranges. Avoid eating a lot of fatty meats, especially red meat. Limit unhealthy fats such as margarine, hydrogenated fats, trans-fats. DO, however, eat nuts and cook with olive and coconut oils. Eat raw vegetables and fruits as much as possible or cook minimally to ensure the nutrients are retained and available to the body. Avoid eating a lot of fried, grilled, or roasted foods which have been browned excessively.
4. Avoid stress, get plenty of sleep, and laugh. There is a definite mind-body connection at work here. The emotional ups and downs of life affect your bodily functions by releasing free radicals and shortening your telomeres. The placebo effect is a well know mind-body phenomenon. If you think positively, the more likely it will work. Sleep is necessary for cell renewal, so get adequate restorative sleep.
5. Moderate exercise at least 4 times a week. I’m talking about any exercise….walking, aerobics, weight training, running, etc. A combination is best, but at least 30 minutes, 3 or 4 times a week should be your goal. Research has shown that exercise can enhance telomerase expression and human growth hormones, which keeps the telomeres long and retard aging.
6. Take supplements if not adequately provided by your food intake. This is a big topic that will be delved into further at a later time, but my top 10 for skin and health would be vitamin D3, ubiquinol (potent form of CoQ-10), r-alpha lipoic acid, resveratrol, curcumin, green tea, krill oil, black currant oil, astragalus root, MSM. Many of these are antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, immune boosters. I will discuss these and other supplements further in a future blog entry.
7. Overeating and weight gain is another major cause of age-related disease, especially diabetes and hypertension. Small portions throughout the day are better than huge meals. Reduce your sugar intake drastically and use low-glycemic alternatives. You want to reduce the glucose levels in your body to reduce the possibility of glycation. I like coconut palm sugar and agave nectar as alternatives to white sugar. Reduce the refined carbohydrates like white flour, potatoes, pasta, soda, candy. If you do eat carbohydrates, make them whole grain or whole wheat, sweet potatoes over white potatoes, wheat pasta or low-carbohydrate pasta. I love Dreamfields pasta which is a reduced carbohydrate white pasta, it looks and tastes just like regular pasta. Make smoothies with veggies and fruits for a healthy and filling breakfast meal or snack.
Avoid the processed and fast foods as much as possible. Avoid the center aisles of the grocery where all the prepackaged and processed foods are. Buy tons of fresh local produce and organics when possible. You want to avoid the additives and hormones found in most processed foods. You will enjoy the taste of meals made from scratch, and you will know exactly what you are putting in your body as well.
8. Drink lots of water. I keep a non-BPA water bottle (Camelbak brand) near me at all times during the day. I refill it with filtered water a couple of times a day and take it everywhere, to the office, in the car, in the bathroom, exercising. By just doing this, I drink at least 8 cups a day. Also consider drinking green or white teas.
9. Lastly, try to avoid using prescription drugs to address problems associated with aging. Most problems associated with aging can be helped or resolved by following the healthy regimen above. If you cannot resolve your health issues with these measures alone, then look at prescriptions as a temporary solution. Prescriptions should be limited so you do not become dependent on them. Also, drugs often have side effects which can adversely affect your skin, so it’s best to try to avoid them if possible.
Other Anti-aging Solutions for the Skin
Here are some other things you can do to help slow the signs of aging on your skin.
1. Avoid excessive exfoliative treatments on the skin. This includes acid or chemical peels and mechanical peels such as microdermabrasion and scrubbing gadgets. When you over exfoliate, the chance of increased pigmentation increases. Keep the epidermis as intact as possible to prevent moisture loss and sun damage. Overexfoliating may speed up the turnover of cells but, in the process, you are using up nutrients that would normally be used by the dermis. The dermis is where the wrinkle and pigment problems originate, so you are actually making those problems more likely by over exfoliating. You can probably safely exfoliate once a month but only do it if your skin is really dull. Don’t make exfoliative treatments a habit. If you live the healthy lifestyle regimen described above, your cell turnover should increase and you will not require exfoliation on a daily or weekly basis.
2. Do not oversaturate the skin with topicals, including sunscreens, moisturizers, primers, liquid makeup, toners, etc. As you age, your skin can only process so much without becoming totally overwhelmed. Your skin metabolism is slowed. Applying more and more will usually cause the opposite to happen. Instead of improving the skin’s health, it will cause skin dysfunction, resulting in sensitive and reactive skin.
Try to apply topicals which are potent but do it infrequently. This prompting of the skin is less likely to induce sensitivity and rosacea or a dependency.
3. Use ultrasound and microcurrent to keep the skin tighter and lifted. This is another topic which will be delved in detail at a later point. You can find home ultrasound and microcurrent gadgets which will produce the same results as a professional spa, but it may take longer. The good thing about these gadgets is that they are not risky to use at home.
4. Use effective and potent, but mostly natural and organic skincare which does not contain toxins, irritants, dyes, fragrances. This is the best type of skincare for long-term and sustainable results which will not endanger your health or skin’s health. Find a skincare line which works with the skin’s natural biologically processes by increasing metabolism and increasing production of collagen and elastin without irritating the skin. If you see irritation on your skin developing after applying any topical, it is a sign your skin does not like it and is sending you a signal to stop.
5. Do not over-cleanse. Twice a day, at most, is adequate. If you can get away with one time, even better. I wash with only water in the morning and one cleanser at night. Overwashing just strips the skin of natural oils, especially if using detergent-based cleansers. The ones with SLS are especially bad for the skin, as they irritate the skin. Very foamy cleansers generally contain SLS. Find a cleanser with no SLS and has few ingredients for your daily cleanser.
6. Overhaul your makeup and get rid of liquid foundations, primers, concealers, etc. that contain pore cloggers and unnecessary dyes, fragrance, or preservatives. I find mineral makeup to be the best solution for daily use, especially for women with oily, acneic, sensitive skins. Try not to wear makeup on a daily basis. Allow the skin to breathe. Once your skin is healthy and functioning well, you will need less makeup to cover up flaws, and that should be the goal of your anti-aging regimen.