5 Steps to a Younger Skin
Do you know what causes your skin to age prematurely? This is crucial information for any woman to have stored in their Anti-aging dossier.
We look at the top 5 premature skin-agers below.
Premature Skin-Ager 1: Impaired Detoxification
Patrick Holford, author of Solve Your Skin Problems, explains that almost all food contains toxins as well as nutrients (as do air and water). “If you are unable to effi ciently detoxify substances from what you eat and your environment, your skin is likely to become congested and unhealthy.”
He adds that within our bodies, substances are chemically broken down, built up and turned from one thing into another. “A good 80% of this activity involves detoxifying potentially harmful substances. Much of this detoxification is done by the liver, which is able to recognise millions of potentially harmful chemicals and transform them into something harmless, or prepare them for elimination.”
Dr Geraldine Mitton, medical doctor and author of Dr Geraldine Mitton’s Handbook of Anti-ageing, adds that if you display any or all of the symptoms below, your body is out of whack, and this could be contributing to your skin looking and feeling the way it does.
- Do you have that “hangover” feeling, even without having had alcohol?
- Are you constantly fatigued or tired?
- Do you suffer from bad breath?
- Do you have frequent migraines?
- Do you suffer from itchy skin, in particular on the nose or ears?
- Do you have skin allergies, such as urticaria or eczema?
- Do you have joint pain or stiffness?
- Do you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
- Do you have premature development of skin pigmentation or are you experiencing photo-aging?
- Do you have a chemical sensitivity (ie you are affected by the sulphites found in prepacked salads, wine and dried fruit)?
Premature Skin-Ager 2: Chronic Inflammation
Inflammation, in many ways, is a good thing. It’s your body’s defence system, helping to protect it against invading bacteria, viruses or injuries. If your body is “under attack”, it sets in motion the inflammation process, which sends chemicals from your white blood cells to the area that is at risk.
Once this has been brought under control, inflammation is supposed to go away. However, if your system is not functioning optimally, this can lead to chronic low levels of inflammation that linger in your body. Not only does this affect your health (putting you at risk for heart disease, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, or even some cancers), but when this inflammation is in the skin, it can affect your looks.
There’s no single factor that leads to inflammation – the culprits can be internal and external factors, and include stress, a lack of sleep, an unhealthy diet, pollution, second-hand smoke and sun exposure.
Mitton adds that chronic inflammation can also be caused by:
- A diet high in omega 6 essential fatty acids and low in omega 3;
- Deficiencies of vitamin B6, B12 and folate, which predispose your body to high blood homocysteine levels;
- A diet high in animal fats;
- Deficiencies of bioflavonoids and antioxidants, found in fruit and vegetables;
- Food additives, emulsifiers and flavouring agents;
- Benzoates, nitrates and sulphites, preservatives in wine, beer, salads, cold meats, frozen chips, dried fruits and cool drinks;
- MSG; and
Premature Skin-Ager 3: An Impaired Immune System
An impaired immune system plays out in dehydrated, tired and dull-looking skin. Mitton explains that symptoms of an impaired immune system include:
- Frequent colds and flu;
- Sinusitis that lingers;
- Candidiasis or thrush;
- Slow wound healing; and
- Recurring bacterial or viral infections.
Boost your immunity:
By improving your immunity, you will automatically see and feel the results, with a fresher, brighter complexion.
- Correct your nutrition by limiting your sugar intake. “Consuming 100g of sugar will depress white cell and killer cell activity for between one and five hours,” Mitton explains.
- Eat garlic and foods containing zinc, or take zinc supplements.
- Supplement with antioxidants and adaptogenic herbs.
Premature Skin Ager 4: Waning Hormones
Unfortunately for many women (and men), waning hormones are a fact of life. Mitton explains that these manifest as perimenopause, menopause, andropause, growth hormone deficiency and hypothyroidism.
American anti-aging expert Dr Nicolas Perricone explains: “As a dermatologist who has spent more than 25 years studying the aging process, I can categorically state that nothing can compare to untreated menopause as a model for accelerated aging, although high levels of stress and diabetes do come very close.”
Cosmetic doctor Natasha Begg- Spiro of Laserderm adds that the most aging aspect of menopause is the decrease in oestrogen levels. This is responsible for accelerated aging of the skin, as oestrogen helps to keep your skin smooth and moist. Water retention or dehydration are also an important factor in premature aging, and hormones, or the lack thereof, can alter how your skin locks in water. Plus, the slowing down of oil gland activity, which in turn reduces the natural sebum that keeps skin soft, results in your skin becoming thinner and dryer.
Dry skin is more prone to wrinkling, and thinner skin is more susceptible to inflammation and dermatitis, with reduced effectiveness as a barrier against irritants and bacteria.
Now is the time to re-evaluate your skincare routine, and to change to a more powerful and hydrating serum and moisturiser specifically geared towards aging or menopausal skin.
Premature Skin-Ager 5: Your Diet
“Your diet, digestion, metabolism and assimilation have a vital role to play in the health of your skin,” comments Mitton. It is important that you eat a balanced, healthy diet. If your system is unbalanced, your skin will pay for it.
Symptoms of low stomach acid:
- Dilated veins on cheeks and nose;
- Bloating and belching immediately after eating;
- Feeling excessively full after meals;
- Weak, peeling or cracked fingernails; and
- Chronic gut problems, eg candida.
Symptoms of a leaky gut:
- General feeling of being unwell, fatigue and headaches;
- Joint and muscle pain;
- Skin rashes and allergies;
- Chemical sensitivities;
- Fatigue when exercising; and
- Brain fogging and inability to concentrate.
Foods that will prematurely age you if you consume too much:
- Animal fats;
- Trans fatty acids, eg margarine;
- Fried foods, roasts and braais;
- Rancid nuts and oils;
- Smoked and salted products;
- Processed meats, salami and sausages;
- White breads, cakes and biscuits;
- Sugar, sweets and desserts;
- Additives and preservatives;
- Excitotoxins, eg aspartame and MSG; and
- Excessive alcohol.
However, just as the foods you eat can age you, so there are foods that will protect and revitalise your skin, adds Mitton.
Include the following in your diet:
- Freshly squeezed vegetable juice;
- Sprouts and seeds;
- Red grapes;
- Yogurt and fermented foods;
- Tomatoes and cruciferous vegetables;
- Garlic, turmeric and ginger;
- Sardines, salmon and fatty fi sh;
- Soy products and tofu;
- Sea vegetables;
- Olive oil;
- Blueberries and cherries; and
- Wheat grass and barley grass.