Everyone envisions having a long, healthy and quality life.
A long life is a gift and aging is the inevitable process that comes with. Graceful aging is about being healthy physically, emotionally and having commitment to self-care. The skin is one main organ that can outwardly display a healthy or an aging skin since it’s the largest organ of the body.
The skin is made up of three layers; dermis, epidermis and subcutaneous layers. There are physiological changes that come with aging. The skin, especially the epidermis, loses fat, strength & elasticity and no longer looks plump and smooth. This combined with too much exposure to the sun causes fine lines and wrinkles, dryness, age spots and even cancer.
The primary cause of skin aging is the dysfunction in keratinocytes, decreased regenerative ability of stem cells in the basal layer of the epidermis leading to a decline in skin renewal and repair ability.
The second one is oxidative stress. This plays an important role in skin aging and skin damage processes since it increases intracellular Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). This can overwhelm the cellular antioxidant defence system and thus lead to oxidative damage of nucleic acids, proteins and fats.
Diet and sugar have a high correlation with influencing skin aging. High sugar consumption can lead to formation of advanced glycation end products (AGE’s) which cause functional and structural damage resulting in accelerated aging. Sugar damages collagen and elastin proteins of the skin contributing to wrinkles, dryness and signs of aging.
The following nutrients can help to reduce the process of aging;
- Water– It’s essential in hydrating the skin as well as maintaining skin internal balance and tissue function.
- Collagen– It helps with the repair of skin tissues, promoting skin elasticity, firming and strengthening the skin thus reducing visible signs of wrinkles and increases blood flow to the skin.
- VitaminA – It prevents skin aging by increasing the production of collagen.
- B Vitamins- They help with reducing skin stress levels and inflammation. Also helps with regulating skin pigmentation.
- Vitamin C– It’s involved in skin collagen synthesis and elimination of intracellular reactive oxygen species.
- Vitamin D– It reduces skin DNA damage, inflammation and carcinogenesis.
- Vitamin E– It prevents skin aging by inhibiting skin peroxidation.
- Zinc & Copper– Thye play a key role in the proliferation and differentiation of epidermal keratinocytes.
- Selenium- It’s essential for the development and function of skin keratinocytes and increasing antioxidant enzyme activity.
- Iron- It is also related to the activity of antioxidant enzyme in skin cells.
Graceful aging is when the body, especially the skin, is nourished inside out. The following are tips on how natural skin care can help promote graceful aging.
a) Wash the skin with a gentle cleanser. This helpsprotect the skin barrier and keep it resistant to dehydration and damage. Harsh cleansers with compounds such as parabens, phthalates and synthetic fragrances should be avoided as they can dry out the skin and shift the skin PH.
b) Gently exfoliate the skin.Avoid harsh exfoliators like sugar scrubs or those with beads as they can cause micro tears. Chemical exfoliators are encouraged as they gently and gradually dissolve the bonds of the outer skin cells and help with renewing the skin. These are known as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic and lactic acid. AHAs help to fade out uneven pigmentation and help hydrate the skin as well.
c) Apply serums!Serums contain a higher concentration of active ingredients than a moisturizer. The best anti-aging ingredients to lookout for are Vitamin A derivatives such as retinol, collagen peptides, co enzyme Q10, vitamin C and plant antioxidants like pycnogenol and green tea extract.
d) Moisturize.Look out for moisturizers that contain water-binding humectants like hyaluronic acid. Also incorporate anti aging plant-based oils such as wheat germ oil, carrot seed oil and rosehip oils as moisturizers. They are rich in Vitamin A, C and E. They also have antioxidants and are high in essential fatty acids.
e) Apply a Sunscreen!A daily application of a broad spectrum SPF 30 to 50 can help fade age spots, improve skin texture and reduce wrinkles by 20% according to a recent study. Sunscreens available at Healthy U are broad spectrum, naturally containing mineral oxides, water resistant and are biodegradable thus they are friendly to all skin types.
As a parting shot, good nutrition, self-care and an active lifestyle can help one age gracefully with vigour and full of health.
By Grace Micere