Optimum Skin Health


Optimum Skin Health

Our skin is often neglected, especially when we are younger, but as we age, our skin shows the signs of wear and tear.  Our skin needs constant nourishment and hydration in order to stay in the best shape.  As we age our skin gets thinner and more fragile.  Collagen makes up about 95% of our dermis (the under layer of our skin).  Collagen works together with elastin to keep our skin supple, elastic and smooth.  As the collagen depletes, normally from age of 30+, we start to show the effects of wrinkles and sagging skin.

Protect your skin

  • Sun Damage – Sun expose can seriously damage our skin. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can cause us to produce an abnormal elastin.  As the body tries to repair this, it causes scar tissue which helps create more wrinkles.  Sun exposure also causes pigmentation which can often appear as brown spots on the skin.  Limit your exposure to the sun by applying a good zinc oxide based sun-cream (as others can contain carcinogenic ingredients).
  • Smoking – does not just have a detrimental effect on our health, it also dramatically ages our skin. Smokers also tend to have far more lines around their mouth and nose than non-smokers.  If you are a smoker, you will benefit from giving up.  You will also benefit from taking additional vitamin C, Vitamin E and zinc supplementation.
  • Hydration – this is often severely neglected. Our skin and body needs water in order to detoxify and process essential nutrients.  It also helps to plump up the skin, giving a far better appearance as we age.  Lotions can claim to have hydrating affects but really nothing beats the impact of drinking lots of water, limiting caffeine and alcohol and eating plenty of hydrating foods such as cucumber, melon, fruits and green leafy vegetables.
  • Detoxify – our skin is the largest organ in our body, and along with our kidneys and liver, helps us to detoxify. Outbreaks of spots and rashes can be a sign your body needs to have a good clear out.  Limiting processed foods, alcohol and sugars makes a massive difference to our skin health.  Fill up with real food, packed with nutrients.  Plenty of natural, healthy oils, fresh vegetables, berries and oily fish.  If possible, eat organically as this reduces your exposure to damaging pesticides, antibiotics and agrochemicals.
  • Sugar – limiting or ideally, cutting our sugar can really improve problematic skin, as well as increasing your energy and reducing your waistline. Sugar produces AGE’s, which stands for Advanced Glycation End products.  This has been linked to a multitude of diseases, but also affects our skin.  Glycated collagen is produced which ages the skin, makes it less flexible and therefore produces wrinkles.  Interestingly, you produce more Glycated collagen from fructose, so you need to avoid high fructose corn syrups, fruit concentrates and smoothies.  You can also get more AGE from eating a diet rich in fried foods.  Swap sugar for a natural alternative such as xylitol or erythritol.  A finish study found that xylitol increased skin collagen and inhibited age-related collagen decline.

Feed your skin

  • Hyaluronic Acid – this is a gel-like substance that can hold almost 1000 times its own weight of water which helps puff up the skin and is extremely hydrating. You will find this as an active ingredient in some skin care products but it is far better to take this in a supplement form, with added N-acetyl Glucosamine (NAG), as this helps your body to produce more of its own Hyaluronic Acid.    Studies have shown women taking NAG supplementation showed a 34% reduction in wrinkles and fine lines.
  • Marine Collagen – this is a real must-have for skin repair. 95% of our dermis is made up of collagen. Applying collagen topically does not have the same impact as orally as the molecules are too large for the skin to absorb fully so I would recommend an oral drink such as Collagen Extra Marine, which also contains Hyaluronic acid, as well as vitamins and magnesium.  Studies have shown that once the body breaks down hydrolysed collagen, it starts to produce more collagen.  76% of women aged 20-50 reported an improvement in supplement.  60% reported fewer wrinkles and 92% said their skin had fewer dark spots and discolourations.  95% reported a reduction in dark circles under their eyes.  (TakHahi A Collagen & amino acid study, Meiji Seiko Health & Bioscience Institute).
  • Astaxanthin (found in krill oil, salmon, lobster and crab), is a great antioxidant that also helps protect us from oxidative damage, and when combined with Vitamin E can help protect us from premature ageing. It helps to lubricated the skin, improve elasticity and can help reduce pigmentation and dark circles under the eyes.   It also boost skin cell regeneration, helping to repair and renew your skin.    Krill oil is also a good antioxidant and is a powerful anti-inflammatory.  Packed with omega 3, I prefer taking Krill oil to fish oil as it does not have a fishy aftertaste.
  • Vitamins – fill up on vitamin C and E, both play an essential role in the formation of collagen and hydration. Eating plenty of nutrient and antioxidant rich foods can also protect you from the damaging effects of the sun.  Eat plenty of berries, citrus fruits, nuts and avocados.  Citrus fruits also contain Limonene, which has been shown to help reduce skin cancer.
  • Carotenoids – Fill up on colourful vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables and squash. This colourful food is packed with carotenoids, especially beta-carotene which can help protect the nourish and protect the skin from damage.  Lutein is found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach or kale.  This helps protect the skin from damage as well as increases hydration and skin elasticity.
  • Resveratrol – is a bioflavonoid found in red wine and some berries, this is a great antioxidant and can help protect us from sun damage, pigmentation and premature wrinkles. This is not the green flag to consume lots of red wine, as the alcohol content will obliterate any great affects.  Instead look for supplementation that contains Resveratrol.

By Sarah Flower, Author, Nutritionist and freelance Journalist!

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