As we age our skin becomes drier, thinner and more fragile. We develop lines and wrinkles, sun spots and reduced elasticity. Collagen production slows and the loss of Connective tissue strength causes our skin to sag while reduced cell turnover can make our complexion dull and scaly. If that’s not enough we also lose 20 % of facial volume. That’s the bad news.
The Connective tissue which is responsible for the skins youthful strength and ability to bounce back consists largely of Collagen, Elastin and GAGs (glycosaminoglycans). There are a number of GAGs but the main one which I am sure you have all heard about is Hyaluronic Acid. GAGs attract water molecules and keep our skin plump, soft and hydrated. Several studies have shown that photo aged skin is deficient in Hyaluronic Acid.
6 dietary changes you can make to reduce skin ageing.
1) Reduce your sugar intake
this includes refined and processed carbohydrates and even includes fruit. Excess sugar (including fructose from fruit) in the blood can cause a process called glycation. Glycation is when a protein or fat molecule binds with a sugar molecule resulting in the formation of AGEs or Advanced Glycation End Products. These AGEs damage the Connective Tissue of the dermis mainly Collagen and Elastin fibres causing them to become stiff and rigid resulting in a loss of the skins strength and elasticity which leads to increased wrinkles and sagging skin. Not only does a diet high in sugar cause skin ageing it can also be responsible for Acne which is often referred to as diabetes of the skin.
2) Increase your Antioxidant intake
Antioxidants are molecules that inhibit the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that produces free radicals which damage and thus age skin cells. A diet high in Antioxidants supports collagen synthesis by protecting the dermis from free radical damage, reducing inflammation and can protect us from UV damage. You can increase Antioxidants in your diet my eating a variety of healthy wholefoods and colourful fruit and vegetables. You can also add antioxidant superfoods like Matcha powder, Maquai Berry, Cacao powder or one of my favourites Kakadu Plum powder to your smoothie or breakfast bowel. As we said above we don’t want excess sugars in our bloodstream so one way you can reduce the glycaemic effect of fruits is to eat them with a protein such as nuts. Drink more Tea - black, white, green or Oolong they all come from the same plant Camellia Sinensis and are rich in polyphenol antioxidants. Tea has about ten times the polyphenols found in fruit and vegetables.
3) Increase your consumption of omega 3 rich foods.
If you want younger, smoother healthily radiant skin then you need to get adequate levels of omega 3. These essential fatty acids are an essential part of all cell membranes and are what make our cells flexible. High levels of omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation of the skin, scaling, pruritis and erythema or superficial reddening of the skin. Omega 3 fatty acids also inhibit inflammation of the skin caused by UV radiation. You will find these skin loving fatty acids in cold water fish such as sardines, salmon, mackerel, tuna, anchovies and cod - don’t forget to leave the skin on as it contains most of the fatty acids. For those of you who don’t like fish or are vegan you can find omega 3 fatty acids in flaxseed Oil, leafy greens, walnuts, chia seeds, mustard oil, seaweed and even mangos and honeydew melon. If you know you don’t consume enough (like me) then get yourself a good supplement. Whenever I forget to take my fish oil supplement for a while I get dry cracked heals.
4) Love your liver
it is the bodies main detoxification organ responsible for blood cleansing, detoxing chemicals and bile production. You can support the liver by eating a wholefood diet, drinking less alcohol, reducing consumption of processed foods and using skincare, haircare products free from nasty chemicals. Drink Detox Teas that contain Liver loving herbs like St Marys Thistle, Dandelion Root and Burdock. This will reduce the toxic load on the other eliminative organs and in particular the skin.
5) Increase the filtered water you drink daily to at least two litres, add squeezed lemon or grapefruit to your water in the morning and throughout the day. Our body is comprised of around 70% water essential for healthy cellular processes. If skin is dehydrated it will present with fine lines and when pressed will not bounce back quickly looking more aged.
6) Eat or drink fermented food such as Yogurt and kombucha Tea to support the gut in its vital functions of immune support, hormone metabolism, manufacturing nutrients and eliminating toxins to name a few. A healthy digestive system while have a positive effect on the health of the skin at any age.
So in a world where women will do almost anything in the quest to look more youthful it’s important to know that yes - our diet can effect the way our skin ages. This gives us the control to make healthier choices and essentially make a positive difference to the health, vitality and ageing of our skin. With a holistic approach to our lifestyles including reduced UV exposure, refraining from smoking and also stress management we can reduce fine lines, wrinkles and aged skin without the use of more invasive methods or treatments.