Keep that Youthful Glow
I am often asked the question “what can I do to keep my skin looking young?” This is a topic of interest to both male and female patients alike across a variety of ages. You are never “too young” or “too old” to keep or get back that healthy and youthful glow! Many people do not realize that skin health is directly related to overall health. It is especially susceptible to changes in gastrointestinal health. For example, people who suffer from acne often notice an improvement in their skin with dietary changes and the addition of a probiotic. More than being and indicator of overall health, the skin is an organ with functions in its own right.
The skin is the largest organ covering the entire surface area of the body. Its main function is to act as a barrier and supply protection from micro-organisms, temperature changes and pressure. The skin regulates body temperature and circulation with the help of sweat glands that promote fluid balance via perspiration. The skin is also a key player in the production of Vitamin D a fat-soluble vitamin that is critical for bone health, immune system function and regulation of calcium and phosphorous levels in the body. The skin helps to detect changes related to the environment through its extensive network of sensory receptors including mechanoreceptors, thermoreceptors, nociceptors, and chemoreceptors. Each of these play a role in communicating external stimuli to our central nervous system (CNS): mechanoreceptors convey information about pressure, vibration and touch, thermoreceptors report on relative temperature changes, nociceptors are responsible for the perception of pain, and chemoreceptors detect chemical stimuli in the environment. Now that we have clarified the roles of the skin in overall health, let’s discuss steps you can take to keep it looking and functioning at its best.
1) You Are What You Eat
Dietary habits most certainly can impact the health and function of our skin. Some foods like those with a high glycemic index, such as simple carbs, cause can cause acne and wrinkles. Foods that can benefit the skin include ones that are high in vitamins A and C. Vitamin A helps to prevent sun damage and acne while vitamin C helps to promote collagen synthesis, improve skin elasticity and neutralize free radicals. Foods that are high in vitamins A & C include dark leafy greens and vegetables belonging to the brassica family (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts). Foods that are high in Vitamin C include citrus fruits and berries.
2) Stay Hydrated
Considering that the human body is comprised of more than 50% water, it goes without saying how necessary proper hydration is for overall health and soft skin. The average adult body is made up of between 55%-60% water gender dependent; males have slightly higher water content then females. Ideally a person should drink at least ½ his or her body weight in fluid ounces daily. This amount increases with exercise or sweating or if you live in a hot, dry climate (like Arizona). Soups, refreshing fruits like oranges and watermelon, cucumbers, lettuce, radishes and celery all contain high water content, you can supplement some of your water intake by consuming these items.
3) Catch your ZZzz
There is truth to the saying “get your beauty sleep.” Lack of sleep can show on your face in the form of saggy skin, bags or circles under the eyes and a dull or sallow complexion. Lack of sleep promotes cortisol production, which in excess amounts can deteriorate collagen and negatively impact skin elasticity. While you are sleeping the body repairs itself and replaces old cells with new ones via hormonal and metabolic activity. One of the hormones released during REM sleep is human growth hormone. This hormone is essential for supporting muscle mass, skin depth and bone strength.
Follow these three steps for a few weeks and you will notice visible improvements. For more tips on skin health read our upcoming newsletter, which will cover skin health and how facial rejuvenation acupuncture can work to improve skin integrity and health.