Think the only way to look younger is to go under the knife or Botox needle? Think again! Have you ever heard the old saying you are what you eat? Or “You look like what you do?” Well, there may be more truth to those old sayings than we think.
I’m always looking, always thinking of ways we can improve our health and our appearance as we age, because let’s face “we all age”.
Do you know the five worst things we do to our skin?
- Excess sun exposure
- Poor diet
- Cigarette smoking
- Lack of sleep
- Excess alcohol consumption
We all like to go out and cut loose every now and then, and every now and then is fine, It’s the “excess” in life that gets us. Moderation is key. Ever go out with the girls (or guys) and have one heck of a night, drink too much, stay up too late, not eat right the next day. (Come on we’ve all been there) Did you notice what that one night of fun did to your skin? If not next time take a look.
Can all of the above really speed up the aging process? Well, the truth is that yes, it can make you age faster by causing wrinkles. This includes premature wrinkles, loss of collagen, elasticity, redness, dehydration and puffiness. And that’s just on the outside of your body. The inside, something we can’t see is a whole other story.
How does eating simple carbs affect your skin?
Scientists have established that anything that causes a rise in our blood sugar results in inflammation on a cellular level and inflammation is at the basis of virtually every disease process such as Cancer, Alzheimer’s, Heart Disease, and Wrinkled Skin. In addition, when our blood sugar goes up rapidly and continually, the sugar can actually attach to the collagen in our skin, making it stiff and inflexible.
There is a scientific term for that: glycation. When your collagen is cross-linked by sugar, you end up with stiff and sagging skin. 50% of aging of the skin is the result of this glycation reaction. Beginning with lack of sleep, when we do not get enough sleep it results in elevation of a hormone called cortisol. Now cortisol, even though it is an essential hormone in the body, in excess quantities is called the “death hormone.” It has a lot of negative side effects. It actually breaks down tissue. For example, it can break down muscle tissue, thin our skin, decalcify our bones, and elevate our blood sugar. Of course, when blood sugar is elevated we are in an inflammatory state. On the days we do not get enough sleep, we tend to crave carbohydrates, and that’s because cortisol raises blood sugar and insulin levels, setting up this craving.
What does sleep deprivation, sun exposure, poor diet, alcohol consumption and smoking do to our skin?
SLEEP: If you truly want to maintain a youthful appearance, it is essential to get enough sleep. We should also mention that when we are getting adequate sleep, we release another hormone that is actually a youth hormone called human growth hormone. Human growth hormone does exactly the opposite of what cortisol does — that is, it builds us up rather than breaking us down. It results in increased muscle mass, thicker skin, stronger bones, and an overall more youthful body.
SMOKING: It is said that by inhaling just one puff of one cigarette, we create three trillion free radicals in the lungs. Free radicals are a bad form of oxygen that attack our cells and produce a tremendous inflammatory response. In addition, cigarette smoke causes blood vessels to constrict, especially in the skin, resulting in lack of oxygen and nutrients, which accelerates skin aging. We are all aware of the fact that cigarette smoke increases chances of lung cancer, but it also greatly predisposes us to heart disease.
DRINKING: Alcohol in excess results in a rapid and sustained increase in blood sugar, which we now know is pro-inflammatory and causes the glycation reaction. In addition, alcohol is metabolized by the liver to toxic chemicals called aldehydes and ketones, which are toxic to cells and are pro-inflammatory. Alcohol also dehydrates us, and when we are dehydrated, our skin looks terrible and we are also in a pro-inflammatory state that accelerates the aging process.
EXCESS SUN EXPOSURE: When we walk out into the noonday sun during the summer, within five minutes the sunlight creates free radicals in the skin. This results in an inflammatory cascade that accelerates the aging process, causing wrinkles, precancers, and cancer as well as discoloration. We must not expose ourselves to sun for long periods of time. In addition, we should use a sunscreen on a regular basis. Now this is a double edge sword. I say that because we all need the Vitamin D that the sun produces. In moderation.
DIET: Finally, eating a diet that is rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and others can help protect us from free radical damage (example of food groups that act as natural, powerful anti-inflammatories) One important item in this category is salmon. Salmon is important because it is high in protein and we need protein to repair our cells. It is a known fact that women who tend not to have protein-adequate diets, result in accelerated aging. In addition, salmon contains high amounts of an essential fatty acid classified as an omega-3 oil. Omega-3 oils are powerful, natural anti-inflammatories that nourish the brain,immune system, and the essential fatty acids nourish the skin, giving it a radiant and beautiful appearance.
Salmon also contains another important nutrient called DMAE. DMAE is known as a cognitive enhancer — that is, that it can improve memory and problem-solving ability. It does so because it improves nerve function. Now, we all know that nerves are not just in our brain but also carry messages to our body — for example, our muscles — and therefore, we need healthy nerves to maintain good muscle tone. Aging is characterized by wrinkling and sagging. We really did not have a way of treating the sagging component of the aging process except for invasive cosmetic surgical procedures. DMAE, when eaten in larger amounts, can increase muscle tone and therefore decrease the appearance of sagging. As a side note, DMAE can be placed into a lotion form and applied to the skin to decrease sagging and increase muscle tone. It’s known to be the fountain of youth (which I have said in my previous blog’s)
One of the biggest mistakes that a person can make is to follow a low-fat or no-fat diet. You have to have adequate amounts of essential fatty acids to be healthy and it should be understood that good fat helps burn body fat. That is, we can actually lose fat by eating the right kinds of fat.
Dark greens are a great example of veggies that contain antioxidants that act as natural anti-inflammatories, and in addition, these dark-green vegetables such as romaine lettuce also contain small amounts of essential fatty acids such as omega-6.
Fruits such as mixed berries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries, and a slice of cantaloupe melon. These fruits are loaded with antioxidants, which act as natural anti-inflammatories, and it should be emphasized that bright, colorful foods contain high levels of antioxidants. In addition, these berries will not cause a rapid rise in blood sugar that may be characteristic of other fruits such as bananas. The cantaloupe melon contains vitamin A, which is a natural anti-inflammatory, and it helps nourish the skin, and cantaloupe also contains a large amount of water, which helps hydrate us.
Finally, drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. I know it’s hard, but your body will thank you!
When we start believing we are what we eat and we are what we do, and adjust our life style accordingly to include plenty of sleep, and a proper diet consisting of a good source of protein, essential fatty acids, and healthy fruits and vegetables that will not cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, there will be a tremendous difference in your appearance and the way you feel. There will be such a difference you’ll be so radiant that when you walk into a room, you will get comments about how great you look and questions about what you have done. You will also notice mental clarity, an elevation in mood, and energy that will complement the way you look. The difference in your appearance is so obvious that if you do before and after photographs, you will be impressed with the difference.