Keeping the Glow: Steps to Healthy Skin
The skin is the largest organ in the body and is often one of the most neglected and abused. Taking care of our skin involves more than just slapping on a little moisturizer in the morning after a shower. It needs to be nourished and looked after just like any other organ because without it, we could not survive. Skin protects the internal organs and systems from deadly viruses, bacteria, chemicals, too much water, among other potential invaders, and helps regulate body temperature. There are a number of things that can be done to keep our “shell” in good shape. Let’s look at a few.
Hydration: Staying hydrated by drinking 6-8 glasses of water daily is important. Water helps maintain flexibility and aids in the elimination of harmful toxins. Alcohol, coffee, tea, and soda are not replacements for pure water. These drinks can actually contribute to dehydration.
Sunshine: Avoiding too much sun will keep our skin from becoming damaged and wrinkled prematurely. We need some sunlight to for vitamin D, but too much can do damage. Aim for approximately 5-30 minutes a day (depending on skin type) between the hours of 10-4. This is contrary to much of the advice from some circles, but this is the time when the full spectrum of the sun’s rays (UVA, UVB, etc.) is available and can deliver the greatest health benefit in terms of vitamin D synthesis. Moderation is the key.
Nutrition: Proper nutrition plays a large role in maintaining a youthful appearance. Plenty of fruits and vegetables provide important vitamins and minerals and their antioxidant content helps reduce inflammation, which contributes significantly to skin aging. Healthy fats such as flax seeds/oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, as well as foods rich in vitamins B, C and E, are all great for our skin. Vitamin C is essential for building collagen, the connective tissue that literally helps hold us together and keeps our skin in place. The potent antioxidant ALA (alpha lipoic acid) is a powerful anti-inflammatory, both used orally and topically, and it helps vitamins C and E do their work efficiently. CoQ10 is another important antioxidant and is found in some foods like apples or in supplement form. Conversely, foods high in unhealthy fats, such as fast food, are inflammatory, as is sugar, another major age accelerator. Sugar attaches to the proteins of collagen, causing the collagen to become stiff and inflexible, which leads to wrinkles.
Topical Suggestions: A topical ester-C cream may prove useful in the treatment of lines, wrinkles and burns. DMAE cream firms and tones the skin and may reduce lines. While not technically an antioxidant, DMAE acts as a form of one because it helps stabilize cell membranes, protecting them from free-radical damage. Some products provide both DMAE and vitamin C, as well as ALA in one cream. Moisturizing with a natural, chemical-free lotion or aloe may help to keep the skin supple and to repair damage caused by wind, cold, and other elements. Chemicals in some cleansers and soaps may be irritating, so it is best to use natural products whenever possible. Using warm water to shower is gentler than using either hot or cold water and using a skin brush stimulates circulation and boosts immunity. Also, remember to remove make up and turn down forced air heaters and air conditioners before bed. This will allow the skin to better breathe overnight and to maintain proper moisture levels.
Exercise: Exercise is another great way to maintain a healthy glow. Exercise helps bring more oxygen to the skin and leads to perspiration, which aids in the elimination of toxins.
Smoking: On the other hand, smokers get more wrinkles and sooner because smoking inhibits circulation, which means the skin will not receive all the oxygen it needs to maintain health. Smoking also reduces vitamin C levels.
The health of our skin tells much about the health of our body. Take care of it and you will reap the benefits of a youthful appearance and a healthier you!
* Perricone, Nicholas. The Perricone Prescription. Rodale 2000.