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Antiaging - A Natural Approach to Youthful Skin

Dr. Nicola Kempinska
1 December 2013

Antiaging - A Natural Approach to Youthful Skin
By: Nicola Kempinska, ND

Cedar Springs Medical Centre
960 Cumberland Avenue, Suite E
Burlington, ON L7N 3J6
DrKempinska@gmail.com


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Antiaging - A Natural Approach to Youthful Skin


Part I: Introduction

As baby boomers head into their golden years, research and marketing have followed suit, offering skin-care and food products, as well as more invasive procedures that aim at providing youthful, flawless, glowing skin. As the focus shifts towards maintaining youth both in appearance and on the inside, people are turning to all sorts of treatments in an attempt to look and feel their best.

As more information is being circulated regarding natural alternatives to cosmetic surgery and other invasive procedures, women and men are looking to natural treatments to keep them looking young and feeling healthier without any potentially harmful side effects.

When it comes to youthful-looking skin, a lot is affected by your internal state, not just what’s happening directly on the outside. It is important to remember that antiaging begins at the cellular level, not on the surface of the skin.

Because skin is our most visible organ, we are more aware of the aging process as it takes place. As skin ages, the outer layer, known as the epidermis, takes longer to recover from insult and injury. This external layer also loses fat-like lipids, making the skin drier and less supple.[1] The dermis, the inner layer of the skin, loses collagen and elastic tissues that act as a protective barrier and account for the skin’s plump appearance.[1] Sweat glands in the skin are also not as efficient at producing sweat, meaning less efficient detoxification through the skin.[1]

Changes to the skin are, in part, due to chronological aging, and also because of external environmental insult such as chronic sun exposure. Cumulative internal changes take place by the continuous formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), causing free-radical damage.[2] In areas of the skin exposed to sunlight, UVB light causes photodamage to the outer layers of the skin, and UVA light injures the middle layers.[2] Clinically, photoaging presents as skin dryness, irregular pigmentation/freckles, lentigines (or small, pigmented spots on the skin), hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, and inelasticity.[2]

Knowing that these changes are taking place, it is important to address and treat any deficiencies, and repair the skin from the outside as well as the inside. There are ways of preventing these changes from happening as quickly as they would otherwise, ensuring younger-looking skin for a longer period of time.



Antiaging - A Natural Approach to Youthful Skin

Part II: Diet and Youthful Skin
By: Nicola Kempinska, ND

Cedar Springs Medical Centre
960 Cumberland Avenue, Suite E
Burlington, ON L7N 3J6
DrKempinska@gmail.com


Diet and Youthful Skin

What you put into your body on a regular basis has a significant impact on how it appears on the outside, with nutritional factors playing a key role in skin health.[3]

Most dermatologists agree that antioxidants are key for maintaining healthy skin, as they fight free-radical damage, protect against photoaging, and affect intracellular signaling pathways, thus preventing skin damage, wrinkles, and inflammation.[4]

There are numerous substances that can act as antioxidants in the body, inhibiting the oxidation of molecules that can cause cell damage and death. A variety of fruits and vegetables are rich in networks of antioxidants and their helper molecules, making them a valuable addition to your daily diet with regards to youthful skin.[5] It is important to note that antioxidants are a chemical property, rather than a substance. They can act as beneficial antioxidants in some circumstances in the body, and as prooxidants in other circumstances. Each one has unique chemical behaviors and properties, meaning that focusing on only one source or substance will not offer the broad-spectrum benefits that would be obtained from a wide variety of sources.[5]

As a comprehensive approach to achieving or maintaining youthful skin, incorporating a colorful variety of vegetables and fruit into your diet each day will benefit many aspects of keeping your skin looking vibrant, healthy, and young.

Fruits and vegetables are not only rich in antioxidants; they also have the ability to reduce inflammation in the body, an important aspect of skin aging.[6] Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and mustard greens have been shown to reduce inflammation,[7] along with pycnogenol found in grapes, blueberries, cherries, and plums.[6] Other dietary components, including curcumin from turmeric and olive oil, improve the extrinsic signs of skin aging caused by inflammation.[6]

Proinflammatory foods include processed high-glycemic carbohydrates, such as grains and starches, as well as foods rich in arachidonic acid (AA) including organ meats and egg yolks.[8] Limiting consumption of proinflammatory foods and promoting the intake of anti-inflammatory foods will contribute to healthier looking skin.

Green leafy vegetables, including kale, spinach, collards, and mustard greens, along with colorful fruits like kiwi and tomatoes, contain concentrated amounts of carotenoids, another key component of skin health.[9] Carotenoids are dark-colored pigments that must be obtained from the diet and are then turned into vitamin A in the body. Carotenoids appear to decrease the formation of free radicals and improve protection of the skin from sun damage.[10] Additionally, a study in 2007 analyzed women with a wrinkled appearance and found that they tended to have lower vitamin A intakes.[3]

Another power player for fighting skin aging is Camellia sinensis, or green tea. Green tea comes from the same leaves as black tea, but with less oxidation during processing. Green tea contains polyphenolic compounds, known as epicatechins, that have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory activity and inhibit the growth of skin cancer cells in many animal model studies.[10] Drinking green tea with 1402 mg total catechins per day for 12 weeks was shown to protect skin against damaging UV radiation and help to improve overall skin quality in women.[11]

Lastly, it is important to mention that allergies and food intolerances can have an impact on the state of your skin. Under-eye circles can be caused by allergies commonly referred to as “allergic shiners”.[12] These “shiners” cause puffiness and bags under the eyes due to nasal congestion from an underlying allergy or intolerance, in many cases caused by food. Under-eye circles can make the complexion look discolored and fatigued. The skin around the eyes is also thinner than other parts of the body, making blood vessels easier to see and the appearance of circles more noticeable. Seeking a health professional such as a Naturopathic Doctor can be an important step in assessing the root cause of your under-eye circles or other skin-related symptoms, and could possibly be your key to more vibrant, blemish-free skin.



Antiaging - A Natural Approach to Youthful Skin

Part III: Exercise, Mind/Body and Youthful Skin
By: Nicola Kempinska, ND

Cedar Springs Medical Centre
960 Cumberland Avenue, Suite E
Burlington, ON L7N 3J6
DrKempinska@gmail.com


Exercise, Mind/Body and Youthful Skin

It appears that how we feel on the inside can affect how we look on the outside. Studies have shown a link between our emotional wellbeing — namely stress, depression, and anxiety — and an increase in skin, hair, or nail problems.[13] Stress causes hormonal changes in the body that alter cellular function in your vital organs, including your skin.[14] Stress appears to make the skin more sensitive and more reactive, creating inflammation and contributing to facial expressions that cause fine lines and wrinkles. Those under stress also tend to neglect their skin or improperly care for it, often lacking the motivation and energy to carry out a regular skin-care routine that promotes clean, healthy skin.[13]

Incorporating simple techniques such as deep breathing and meditation can have a profound effect on your stress levels, and therefore on your skin as well.

According to studies, exercise impacts the skin in much the same way it benefits the bones and muscles. With exercise, skin becomes thicker and has more collagen. Exercise has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect on the cells, and acts to relieve tension from our day by releasing endorphins.[14]

Cardiovascular exercise increases heart rate and blood flow to the skin, sending much-needed nutrients to the cells to build collagen and increasing antioxidant circulation to fight damaging free radicals. Even moderate exercise three times a week has been shown to greatly enhance energy levels at the cellular level. Resistance training using light weights is proven to build lean muscle mass, which means that blood sugar is metabolized more rapidly, preventing high blood sugar and in turn, damaging inflammation. Exercise also lowers stress, another contributor to inflammation and skin damage.[14]

As an additional benefit, water intake typically increases with exercise, meaning that cells are hydrated and skin looks more vibrant, rather than dull and dry.[14]

Reducing stress and staying fit through regular exercise are important parts of keeping young on the outside and the inside. However, even when incorporating these beneficial practices in your regular routine, you need to be sure that your body has the time to rejuvenate as well. This is done through sleep.

When you sleep, your cells undergo the process of repair. The body lowers cortisol (the stress hormone) and increases growth hormone (which stimulates cell reproduction and regeneration).[14]

Incorporate sleep hygiene techniques into your nightly regimen: aim to go to bed around the same time each night, dim the lights to signal to the brain that it is approaching bedtime, turn off any electronics including cellphones and laptops, cover any bright lights in your bedroom (even small ones), and practice meditation or deep breathing before you sleep.



Antiaging - A Natural Approach to Youthful Skin

Part IV: Top Four Supplements for Youthful Skin
By: Nicola Kempinska, ND

Cedar Springs Medical Centre
960 Cumberland Avenue, Suite E
Burlington, ON L7N 3J6
DrKempinska@gmail.com


Top Four Supplements for Youthful Skin

There are a number of beneficial supplements for keeping skin looking young and vibrant. Foundationally, getting a wide variety of vitamins and minerals from the diet will set the stage for vital, glowing skin. Adding nutritional supplements can offer therapeutic doses of nutrients that are integral to skin health.

One key antioxidant is vitamin C, known for its role in the production of collagen.[15] Topical vitamin C has been shown to increase the density of dermal papillae that provide nourishment to the hair follicles and lower layers of skin. In aged skin, these papillae tend to thin and virtually disappear, but vitamin C appears to help prevent this, correcting the regressive structural changes associated with the aging process.[15] Higher oral intakes of vitamin C have also been associated with lower likelihood of wrinkle appearance and dryness, leading to better overall skin-aging appearance.[3]

Fish oil, containing key omega 3 fatty acids known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), has been shown to provide benefits to skin health when used both internally and topically. High-dose fish oil supplementation has been shown to slow cellular aging.[16] These fatty acids also affect moisture and texture, as well as elasticity and structure of the skin.[17] Approximately three months is considered adequate time for skin changes to set in when supplementing orally.[17]

Vitamin E consists of a complex of eight compounds called tocopherols.[18] Tocopherol is a fat-soluble antioxidant and free-radical scavenger that acts synergistically with vitamin C.[18] The intake of vitamin E has been shown to prevent collagen cross-linking, with the abundance of cross-links related to chronological aging of an organism.[19] Oral intakes of vitamins C and E have also been found to increase photoprotective effects on the skin.[18]

Glutathione is a powerful endogenous antioxidant that has the ability to fight skin aging. It is an important substrate for enzymatic antioxidant activities, and is capable of free-radical scavenging, creating a cellular antioxidant defense that protects skin integrity.[20] Glutathione can be found in topical skin-care products as well as oral supplements. The evidence on the benefits of glutathione is growing, and it is definitely a supplement to keep your eye on in the future.