Many of my patients, older than 40, ask me what products to use on their skin to keep it from showing signs of aging. Although there are products I would recommend to keep skin youthful looking, there are plenty of natural remedies and solutions that prevent skin aging from the inside out. Paying attention to what you put in your body nutritionally can really pay off in helping your skin stay young. Here’s what I recommend:
Prevent Aging Skin with Good Nutrition
You’ve heard the old adage, “You are what you eat?” It’s true. With inadequate nutrition and exposure to toxic substances, your body falters and starts to break down. The first places those toxic changes are seen are your skin, nails and hair.
A part of good skin care to combat aging involves what you do on the surface of your skin. However, the majority of what keeps your skin youthful and strong looking comes from what you put in your body nutritionally. Combined, they work together to help reverse aging skin. Here are 10 of my best nutritional recommendations for maintaining healthy, youthful looking skin.
1. Limit Sugar intake: The #1 worst offender in keeping skin healthy in youthful. A diet high in refined sugar (candy, sweets, processed foods containing sugar), or even too many high glycemic carbohydrates like white potatoes and rice, or alcohol, produces an acidic environment in your body. That acid eats up collagen, the connective tissue that holds your skin taut. When the collagen breaks down in your skin, it sags and creases and wrinkles begin to show up. I recommend omitting all refined sugar from your diet, or cutting it down to a once a week treat. Switch out high glycemic starches for lower ones. Limit alcohol to 3-4 glasses of wine a week.
2. Vitamin A: As beta carotene, you need about 3,500 units a day to keep skin healthy. Helps repair the skin and keeps it from becoming dry and flaky. Good food sources include winter squash, carrots, kale, sweet potatoes, and apricots. Many skin care creams contain Retinol, a derivative of Vitamin A to help reduce appearance of wrinkles.
3. Vitamin C: A super antioxidant that helps build collagen and elastin in the skin by fighting the free radicals that destroys them. Works with vitamin E to prevent sun damage. Get at least 500 mg of Vitamin C a day from citrus fruits, red and green peppers, collard greens, broccoli, and kale. Can also be applied topically in serums or creams – a good one is Camu serum.
4. Vitamin E: Another powerful antioxidant, which helps fight free radical damage that can lead to dryness and wrinkling. Vitamin E ointment can also be applied to the skin to work on the surface to reduce wrinkles and reduce scarring from wounds, and heal burns. Good food sources include almonds, sunflower seeds, and avocados.
5. Selenium: An antioxidant mineral, helps prevent free radical damage and maintain skin elasticity. Selenium is also thought to prevent skin cancer as it protects skin from UV light damage. Soils in the Midwest are particularly deficient in selenium, so if you live there be sure to supplement 100 and 200 mcg a day.
6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These help lubricate the skin from inside and fight inflammation in skin cells. They also help repair skin and keep it supple and elastic. Coldwater fish like salmon, and mackerel are good sources of Omega-3’s, as are flax seeds or oil, or Omega-3 supplements.
7. Zinc: A mineral that regulates oil production in the skin and helps repair the skin.
8. Silica: A trace mineral found in many foods, helps build collagen and elastin in the skin and heal wounds. Also benefits the structure of hair and nails. Food sources are green beans, strawberries, garbanzo beans, and asparagus. It is also available as a 1-tablespoon liquid supplement.
9. Alpha-Lipoic Acid: A universal antioxidant that’s soluble in both water and oil that helps fight free radical damage, repair skin damage, and diminishes fine lines. Food sources include broccoli, red meat, spinach, peas. Get 100 mg a day.
10. DMAE: Taken internally, improves brain function. Applied to the skin topically, helps keep skin stay taut, especially the neck area that can lose elasticity faster than facial skin.
What Else Can You Do To Fight Aging Skin?
When taking care of your skin, it may help to remember that it is the largest organ of your body! It’s affected by internal nutrition as well as external toxins. Here are some things that can affect the health and age of your skin:
1. Sun: Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s burning rays are the strongest. Wear a hat and/or protecting light colored clothing. Use an SPF #30 sunscreen.
2. Don’t smoke: Smoking robs Vitamin A, which helps repair skin, and Vitamin C, which skin needs to maintain collagen, and oxygen, which your skin needs to look and be healthy.
3. Limit alcohol: Although 1 glass of wine a day may be good for your health, more than 2 can lead to poor skin. Alcohol dehydrates the skin and contributes to wrinkling and loss of elasticity.
4. Cleansers/Moisturizers: The simpler the better. Wash your skin with olive oil soap. Try a mixture of olive oil and aloe vera gel as an overall body moisturizer. Mix in halves.
As I tell my patients, there are many expensive “designer” serums and creams on the market today aimed at fighting aging skin. Although they may have some benefit, they will never fix skin that’s lacking the right nutritional building blocks to maintain its youthful health. Also, they will not reverse damage from the sun or chronic smoking or drinking. Strive to keep your skin healthy and the rest of you will benefit as well!
Jay Brachfeld, M.D.
Natural Health News