As many of you will know by now, I am very much for aging gracefully without the aid of such things as plastic surgery or botox. But it doesn't mean to say that I think we should just accept every wrinkle that appears and try to do nothing to delay them. I still think it is important to keep our skin healthy so it ages as slowly as possible.
And with that in mind, I watched a really interesting documentary on Monday evening - Horizon: The Truth About Looking Young on BBC2.
Whilst it did look into science and new advancements which could mean better protection against the sun and better care of the collagen layer in our skin which could lead to fewer wrinkles, to name but a couple, it did spend quite some time looking into simple steps that you and I can take today and changes we can make in our daily routine.
The primary ones are:
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For many years we did not understand, or remained ignorant, of the effects of the sun on our skin. But with medical and scientific research we are now aware that the sun can badly damage our skin if we do not wear some kind of protection. There are 2 types of rays that come from the sun. The first type we should alreday be aware of: these are UVB rays. These rays can cause both short term and long term damage to our skin. In the short term, if we do not adequately protect ourselves, they can cause our skin to redden and burn. In the long term, these rays can lead to skin abnormalities such as cancer. UVB rays are shorter rays so do not penetrate far into the skin and therefore, predominantly, only affect the epidermis (or outer) layer of the skin.
UVA rays were once thought to have a minor effect on skin damage, but now studies are showing that UVA rays are a major contributor to skin damage. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and work more efficiently. They cause greater damage to the collagen layer which, in turn, causes more fine lines and wrinkles as the collagen can't bounce back to its original plumpness and, so, starts to sag and sink, creating the wrinkles. Also the intensity of UVA radiation is more constant than that of UVB - it doesn't vary in strength depending on the time of day or the time of year whihc means your skin is susceptible to damage by UVA rays all year round. And, importantly, UVA rays are not filtered by glass which means that your skin is not protected when you are travelling by car or by train or sitting in a conservatory.
This latter point was proved in the Horizon programme where they photographed both sides of truck drivers' faces (and the face of the programme presenter). In all cases, the side of the face which had been beside the car window while they were driving was the side of the face which was more damaged and had more wrinkles.
The programme presenter has recommended that, in future, when you look for a sun protector, don't just look for one that protects you from UVB rays, it must also protect you from UVA rays. And - wear your sun protector throughout the year, not just when it's warm and sunny. One helpful hint she gave to remembering the difference between UVA and UVB rays was A for Aging, B for Burning..... simple but memorable.
Eat plenty of bright coloured, bitter or leafy fruit and vegetables.
Going with vegetables and fruits that are brightly coloured, bitter or leafy means you'll get more of the natural antioxidants your body needs to fight free radicals. Cooking vegetables and fruits can destroy or change many of the amino acids, nutrients and vitamins that are in these foods, so eating them raw is a great choice. However, steaming is another good option. Getting plenty of bright, raw veggies and fruits also helps to firm skin, smooth it and stabilize the presence of vitamins within the skin tissue. Adding fruits and veggies that have vitamin A in them can help to fight off acne. If you're dealing with blemishes or oily skin, apples are a great anti-aging nutrition choice, since they offer vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and copper.
Eat more oily fish
Omega-3 is the fatty acid found primarily in cold water fish. It is said to have a whole host of benefits including alleviating depression, preventing age-related blindeness and protecting against prostate cancer. And now there's evidence that Omega-3s may have a profound anti-aging effect, too.
Telomeres (structures at the end of chromosomes that are involved in the stability and replication of chromosomes) are markers of biological aging. Genetic factors, exposure to certain chemicals and environmental stressors shorten the length of telomeres and are believed to contribute to the aging process. New research published shows that Omega-3s slow down the shortening of telomeres, meaning that Omega-3 fatty acids may protect against aging on a cellular level.
Reduce your sugar intake
If the promise of a slimmer waistline hasn't curbed your sweet tooth, maybe the desire for smooth skin will. It's a bitter pill to swallow, but experts now believe that a lifetime of overeating sugar can make skin dull and wrinkled. At blame is a natural process that's known as glycation, in which the sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins to form harmful new molecules called advanced glycation end products (or, appropriately, AGEs for short). The more sugar you eat, the more AGEs you develop. As AGEs accumulate, they damage adjacent proteins in a domino-like fashion. Most vulnerable to damage are collagen and elastin, the protein fibers that keep skin firm and elastic. Once damaged, springy and resilient collagen and elastin become dry and brittle, leading to wrinkles and sagging.
The body is 95% water, but as you age, your skin loses its ability to hold that water. That, along with a loss of subcutaneous fat, causes wrinkles. Drinking a lot of water is a good way to keep the body working properly, and will help you reduce some of the effects of aging skin. Now, whilst drinking water does not affect the outer layers of skin cells that are already dead and waiting to be exfoliated off, it does deliver vital nutrients to the deeper layers and gives the skin bounce and support.
These are the simple hints and tips that I picked up from the programme and wanted to share with you. This programme predominantly addressed how to reduce the signs of aging from an internal viewpoint, with the exception of UVA rays it did not spend so much time looking into the importance of moisturising your skin on the outside. But to keep your skin healthy we need to care for it from both an internal and external viewpoint.
Remember - to have an ageless face is to have lived an empty life - free from experiences. Never be ashamed of your fine lines and wrinkles - they are the sign of a full life.... but, in saying that, there's also no harm in trying to keep them at bay and keep your skin looking and feeling healthy.