One of my patients (who is an official member of the “seasoned citizens” club) posed a common question- “I am 75+ years old but I feel (and everyday tell myself) that I am 45+ years old. I am always active with my family, my Church and my favorite hobby-Golf. But I have noticed that my skin is thinning, bruising easier, and just looking older than I feel…Why and is there anything I can do??”
Well, first off this individual is starting their day off the “right” way with positive and prayerful affirmations for their Mind. Secondly, each one of us has a specific gene makeup that is passed down from our parents that directly influences our health in all aspects. It is what we do during our lifetime that we can control that either minimizes or maximizes these genetic predispositions. The skin is called the integumentary system and is an organ system consisting of the skin, hair, nails, and exocrine glands. The skin is only a few millimeters thick yet is by far the largest organ in the body. Under what we see in the mirror is a fiber mesh work of collagen and elastin–type’s proteins that keep skin firm. As we age, this fiber network weakens and skin sags. In addition, it thins because it loses fat. Some of this “aging” is related to our genetic code. But no matter what kind of skin one has inherited, you can keep the skin you have looking young by taking action!
The outside elements-sun, wind, cold, etc. greatly stress this incredible “organ” so protecting it would be the first line of defense to slow the process. And as with every other part of our body, what we nourish it with also has a tremendous influence. At this time, medical science has affirmed that adding flax seed and fish oil to the diet has improved the overall health of skin by enriching from the inside out (‘British Journal of Nutrition’ Sept. 2008; Ray Sahelian, M.D.). Hydration was also noted for skin health-eight 8oz. glasses of water each day (just like we all have heard a ‘thousand’ times before!). Japanese researchers have shown the antioxidants (a sub category of 40,000+ phytonutrients in food) found in edible seaweed, algae, chlorella, spirulina, etc. protect the skin from damage done by ultraviolet B (UVB) light. Tomatoes provide an important chemical-Lycopene- that also is an antioxidant that has been linked to protecting the skin. In addition, it was discovered that more of this antioxidant becomes available with cooking. The list continues with a variety of vegetables and fruits (carrot, pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes, green leafy veggies, apricot, watermelon, all berries, etc.). Olive oil, Coconut oil, Almonds, Walnuts, and Brazil nuts all contain essential types of fats, “EFA’s”, that keep the skin supple. Topical applications of some these oils, in particular coconut and almond oil, are very popular. Many companies now add “antioxidants” (vitamin C, A, and others) to their skin formulas with all types of ‘celebrity’ endorsements and ‘clinical’ testing to promote these products. It is my opinion, we should put as much emphasis on “what we put in our body” as well as “what we put on our body”. And lastly, there are more than 40 muscles that contribute to our facial expressions, so remember to “exercise” your face not just your body muscles.