How Nutrition can help your Ageing Skin?

How important is your skin as you age?

Did you know that your skin is your body’s largest organ, covering nearly 2 square meters and 16% of your total body weight, and we shed one layer of dead skin cells in 24 hours?

The skin is responsible for many different bodily functions including supporting electrolyte balance, regulating temperature and synthesising vitamin D. It also acts as a first line of defence against different environmental factors. Skin is also a detoxifier- eliminating destructive toxins through sweat. Overall, it does a lot to protect us, and this is something that continues as we grow older.

So, what exactly is the ageing process and why does it happen?

The ageing process is something that occurs as a result of both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic or internal ageing is an inevitable physiological process that results in thin, dry, fine wrinkles. Cell renewal and turnover declines as we age, which is genetically predetermined resulting in a 10% drop in epidermal cells per decade. Less collagen is produced and elastin fibres wear out creating loose or slack skin.

Extrinsic ageing is engendered by external factors like air pollution, smoking, UV rays, stress and poor nutrition – things that we are all impartial to as the world continues to urbanise. In fact, the top reason people do not have enough collagen is due to poor diet. However, smoking cannot be underestimated as it reduces circulation in the body limiting blood flow to the capillaries. This in turn reduces oxygen and nutrition to elastin and collagen fibres causing hardening or sagging of the skin, loss of elasticity, course wrinkles and a rough texture.

Signs of ageing skin…

· Thinning of the epidermis causing a grey or transparent skin tone

· Rough, dry and itchy skin

· Hyperpigmentation

· Fragile skin caused by flattening of the epidermis and dermis

· Loss of elastin and collagen resulting in wrinkles and slack skin

· Bruising easily caused by thinner blood vessel walls

· Skin tags and lesions (meaning benign tumours)

If you want to feel fabulous at forty what can you do about your ageing skin?

How can Nutrition help?

 An overall healthy lifestyle change can work wonders for your skin.

 Diet can play an important part and switching to whole foods that are as close to nature as possible and organic reduces exposure to damaging toxins.

Choosing foods rich in antioxidants (vitamin C, E, selenium and zinc) to limit destructive radioactive species, these includes bright orange and yellow fruit and vegetables as well as nuts and seeds, while increasing protective phytonutrients like flavonoids found in most fruit and vegetables.

Green tea has also been seen to increase microcirculation and it offers mild protection from UV light. It contains a powerful antioxidant called EGCG that fights DNA damage from UV rays. That means it's a potent anti-ageing ingredient combatting signs of ageing. Furthermore, the catechins in green tea reduce irritation, redness, and swelling.

Eating healthy fats like nuts and seeds, oily fish, olive oil and avocados increase cellular membrane health and reduce inflammatory molecules, protecting the skin further. Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial to help keep skin thick, supple and moisturised

Hydration is important when it comes to skin health as the Hyaluronic acid binds water molecules and holds onto it to maintain the moisture levels. Water also assists with detoxification through sweat glands. Having a daily filtered water intake goal of at least 1.5 litres is likely to improve skin health.

Improving and maintaining collagen levels as you age is vital for skin and epithelial barrier health throughout the body. Eating collagen rich foods and those rich in an amino acid called l-glutamine like fish, eggs and chicken, bone broth, lentils and cabbage, and those that increase collagen production high in vitamin C like berries, green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits – will all go some way to improve the health of your skin.

But one of the most important things you can do is reduce environmental factors that extrinsically effect skin health. Staying out of the midday sun, getting outside in fresh air which is less polluted, refraining from smoking and drinking, and most importantly de-stressing by practicing mindfulness, medication and cold water therapy – and generally finding things that make you happy.

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