“You are what you eat” is an old saying I frequently repeat to my patients when they ask me what can they do to make their aging skin look better and younger. It’s not only an old adage it’s really true! What kind of food, and other substances, you put in your body influences your health and nothing reflects overall wellness more than your skin. Here’s what I tell my patients about how to keep skin glowing and healthy at any age.
Your Skin Mirrors The Rest of You
It’s no coincidence that teenage skin often breaks out in acne right before that big date, or adult skin breaks out in hives, or rashes of psoriasis, eczema or rosacea, around certain stressful events. Stress is never as clear in your body as it is on your skin – in fact sudden skin changes can be a bellwether for whatever stress is occurring in your life. Stress aggravates cortisol – a stress hormone – and it wreaks havoc on your skin as well as the rest of you. Any sudden breakout is your skin responding to stress chemicals being released in your blood and filtering out through your skin – your body’s largest toxin filtration system. It’s important then, not only to the health of your skin, but the rest of you, to try and keep stress under control.
Just as important is, not only paying attention to good outer skin care but good inner skin care, by putting the best foods and nutrients in your body that builds skin from the inside. Deficiencies in certain vitamins as well as smoking, drinking too much, not enough exercise or oxygen intake can make skin look dull, grey and lifeless.
How To Get Glowing, Healthy, Younger Skin
As many of my patients are over 40, many of their concerns center around wrinkles, sagging, or just plain dull looking skin. It’s true that mid-life hormone changes can cause skin to become drier and thinner, less elasticity and more prone to wrinkling. Patches of darker skin may even show up as well. Just because you passed the age of 40, doesn’t mean you’re doomed to old-looking skin. In fact, I have patients in their 80s who have clear, beautiful skin. Here are several areas to control to keep your skin young and healthy looking:
- Stress. First and foremost – learn to manage stress through frequent exercise, getting adequate sleep, eating right and taking time to decompress. Some life events can cause more stress than you feel you can handle. Talk to friends or find a stress counselor that can help you through. Be sure vitamin B12 intake is optimal as many people over age 40 develop deficiencies from decreased intestinal absorption. Low B12 can cause jangled nerve responses as well as ringing ears.
- Nutrition. Be sure your diet contains vitamins A (beta carotene form) and B complex as well as vitamin C which helps build collagen in your skin. Vitamin E also helps to keep skin smooth and less wrinkled. Essential fatty acids (from nuts or fish) contain Omega-3’s that help keep skin lubricated. Hyaluronic acid 80 mg a day helps create collagen and smoothness. Green and black tea contains EGCC which helps prevent collagen breakdown and skin cancer. Adequate protein intake also helps keep skin and muscles from breaking down as we get older.
- Limit sugar and sodium: Sugar creates high acid environment in your body that breaks down collagen in your skin. Too much sodium causes your skin to retain water especially under your eyes and under your chin – giving you an older look. Nuts are good for your health but make them unsalted. Diet sodas may not contain sugar but they often contain more sodium (and phosphorus) than your body needs – especially if you drink more than 2 cans a day. Switch to a no-sodium brand.
- Quit smoking. Smoking affects your general health and robs vitamin C and oxygen from your skin causing wrinkles and poor color to develop.
- Hydration. Nothing makes your facial skin plump up faster (and perks the rest of you up as well) than drinking a few glasses of water. Dehydration is common in older people as their thirst signal decreases. Drink half your weight in water every day!
- Limit alcohol. Drinking a glass of red wine a day is good for your health, but drinking too much alcohol in general can dehydrate you. Limit drinks to 1-2 glasses of wine a day and 1 or 2 other types of alcohol per week. Be sure, however, to drink an extra glass of water with each glass of alcohol you consume to avoid dehydration.
- Skin care. You really don’t need all those expensive cleansers and moisturizers. Cleanse your skin (entire body) with olive oil soap (Kiss My Facebrand makes several size bars) and cooler water. Let it air dry. Mix 1 tsp of coconut oil with 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil and apply as a moisturizer to your face. Exfoliate your skin (entire body) every other day with a good facial scrub you can purchase economically at your drugstore. Or, make your own fresh! 2 tablespoons brown sugar granules mixed with 2 tablespoons olive oil makes a great exfoliate that leaves your face (and the rest of you) soft and smooth.
- Exercise. Yoga has been research proven to be a great stress reliever and to decrease inflammation and give more oxygen to the body, which can really help keep skin look great. It lengthens and tones muscles throughout your entire body including the neck, which helps to support facial muscles. Frequent aerobic exercise 3-4 times a week helps deliver more oxygen to your skin and erases haggard gray tones.
While getting older is inevitable, old-looking skin is not. If you pay attention to what you put in your body as well as what you expose your outer skin to, you’ll go a long way in keeping your skin looking healthy, younger and glowing all the way into your 90s and beyond!