Your skin is the largest organ of the body and a reflection of your overall health. The appearance of our skin is where we visually notice aging first. Lifestyle and dietary choices made in our 20s and 30s tend to show up in our 40s, 50s and beyond. In addition, as we age hormones decline, skin cells regenerate slower, gravity takes effect, and collagen and oil-producing glands become less active.
Fortunately, there are solutions that are beneficial to protecting your skin and encourage healing to maintain a healthier, younger looking appearance.
1. A nutrient-rich diet is essential for healthy, vibrant-looking skin. A direct correlation exists between the quality of the foods you choose to eat and the condition of your skin.
-- Thumbs up: avocado, coconut oil, olive oil; fresh, organic dark, leafy greens, colorful veggies and fruits (apples, kiwi, papaya, pomegranate, dark-skinned grapes, lemons, cherries and berries); blended veggie smoothies; yams and sweet potatoes; wild salmon; whole eggs; aloe vera gel; garlic and onions; nuts and seeds; turmeric (curcumin); raw cacao; and organic, grass-fed and free-range protein.
-- Thumbs down: Sugar, grains, vegetable oils and trans fats, fried foods, conventional grain-fed meat, processed foods, fat-free and low-fat foods, artificial sweeteners, pesticides, preservatives and additives, which cause dry skin, hair loss, brittle nails and accelerate wrinkling of the skin and aging.
-- Eliminate foods you’re sensitive to.
2. Heal your gut; the health and quality of your skin is strongly linked to the health of your gut. Conditions such as leaky gut, Candida, parasites, SIBO and abnormal bowel flora all affect the health of your skin. Check out some of my tips to optimize digestion.
3. Sleep 7-9 hours every night – the fountain of youth. During restful sleep the skin and body repair and growth hormone is released, which helps skin remain thick, more elastic and less likely to wrinkle. Lie on your back when sleeping to offset the effects of gravity.
4. Manage stress. Excess cortisol production can damage elastin and collagen, and prevent the skin’s ability to repair. Enjoy personal downtime and relaxation every day (meditate; total body and facial massage; yin and restorative yoga; spend more time in nature; walk; read something uplifting; help others; listen to your favorite music; take five minutes of solitude and breathe deeply; pray; keep a journal; gratitude)
5. If you smoke – quit.
6. Drink plenty of clean, filtered water and organic green tea. Minimize intake of dehydrating beverages (too much caffeine or alcohol). Avoid drinking alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime. Alcohol increases the risk for capillary breaks, which allows more water in and causes sagging, bloating and puffiness.
7. Exercise. Daily exercise keeps blood flowing, which brings oxygen to the skin. Oxygen is an important ingredient for healthy skin. Lift heavy weights and perform short bursts of intense exercise balanced with yin-style activities. Avoid extreme amounts of exercise, especially long, slow distance (LSD) exercise, which is inflammatory, causes premature aging of the skin, hormone disruption and accelerates cellular aging.
8. Minimize free-radicals, oxidation and inflammation – this includes chronic sun exposure; excessive exercise; gum disease; household chemicals; pollution; infections; sugar and inflammatory foods, all which accelerate aging and destroy skin.
9. Balance hormones. Too much testosterone or cortisol, too little estrogen and a thyroid deficiency can affect the appearance of your skin. Optimize liver function, which is a possible cause of hormone imbalances and undesirable skin conditions.
11. Supplemental support to consider: high-grade quality omega-3 fatty acids with GLA (borage, black currant seed or evening primrose oil); probiotics; green tea extract; vitamins A, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, D and E; zinc; antioxidants; alpha lipoic acid; CoQ10; pycnogenol; turmeric (Meriva-SR); astaxanthin; grapeseed extract; digestive enzymes with HCL.
12. Dry brush your skin before showering. Install a shower filter that removes chlorine and other harsh chemicals that are damaging to your skin and your health. Use chemical-free skin care products. The average woman puts 200-500 chemicals on her body every day, which compromise your liver and lymph. It’s important to recognize that whatever you apply to your skin can be absorbed into your body and potentially cause serious damage over time.
Many skincare products contain estrogen-mimicking chemicals and harmful ingredients. Look for and avoid parabens, phthalates, mineral oils, aluminum, hard soaps, and artificial fragrances. Opt for paraben-, hexane- and chemical-free products.
I like Devita Natural Skin Care products; they’re 100 percent paraben-free and PETA certified. Some of my personal natural skincare favorites include coconut oil, aloe vera gel, shea butter, topical coQ10, cocoa butter, witch hazel, jojoba oil and essential oils.
For a list of safe cosmetics, visit Skin Deep.
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Copyright © Paula Owens
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