None of us can escape the fact that, with every passing day, we each get a little older. Fortunately, we can do something about it! In this article you’ll learn what causes unwelcome wrinkles, crow’s feet and sagging skin, and discover a range of wholesome superfoods that can help you to reduce the visible signs of aging naturally.
Why do some people have more wrinkles than others?
Although you’re born with perfectly smooth and supple skin, the process of aging begins immediately. Indeed, throughout your lifetime your skin cells continuously divide and renew, not only in order to grow but also to repair skin cell damage. During the constant cell division that’s required for this particular purpose, the DNA of your skin cells is duplicated, and with each duplication, your telomeres (the caps found at the end of every strand of DNA, which protect your chromosomes) become shorter, until eventually they are so short that they’re no longer able to divide. At this point, your skin cells die and visible skin aging, in the form of wrinkles and loss of elasticity, manifests. As the original length of your telomeres is genetically pre-determined and varies per person, your individual rate of skin cell division and your corresponding speed of aging will also differ.
Yet, although you cannot change your personal ‘genetic program’ and it’s impossible to stop your skin from aging completely, you can slow down the rate of aging and thus benefit from smoother, suppler skin for longer.
Factors that accelerate skin aging
There are several factors that can contribute to a more rapid aging of your skin.
- Excessive sunbathing – your body requires sunlight in order to produce vitamin D, which is essential for a strong immune system, as well as the health of your teeth and bones. However, spending too much time in the sun will expose your body to harmful amounts of UVA and UVB radiation, which triggers the acceleration of skin cell renewal and promotes the aging of your skin. A common misconception is that skin damage will only occur if you allow your skin to burn – unfortunately, even if your skin tans nicely without burning, skin damage still takes place and your skin will age more rapidly as a result. Furthermore, frequent exposure to sunlight may increase your risk of skin cancer (Fisher et al., 2002)
- Smoking and heavy alcohol consumption – several scientific studies demonstrate that smoking can dramatically speed up the aging process. If you smoke, your body’s vitamin C content is more rapidly depleted (Nicita-Mauro et al., 2008) – vitamin C plays a crucial role in maintaining the smoothness and elasticity of your skin. Too much alcohol is particularly bad for your skin, as it dilates the capillaries in your skin, leading to skin damage and accelerated skin aging (Beresford, 1995).
- An unhealthy diet – if you enjoy a diet that’s high in sugar and carbohydrates, then your skin will age significantly faster. That’s because too much sugar in the body causes glycation – a process in which sugars bind to proteins and increase your level of inflammatory responses, ultimately causing cell damage and rapid aging of skin (Semba et al., 2009).
- Lack of exercise – if you avoid regular exercise your skin will suffer from both poor blood circulation and hydration and your hormonal balance will be affected. This puts you at a greater risk of the type of skin damage that reduces elasticity. The perspiration that arises from vigorous exercise on the other hand, ensures a more effective removal of toxic substances from your body via the skin, reducing the likelihood of skin cell damage (Daley and Spinks, 2000)
- Stress and insufficient sleep – those suffering from chronic stress and / or a lack of sleep tend to have an increased amount of inflammatory reactions within the body and produce large quantities of cortisol, also known as the ‘stress hormone’. Research suggests that chronic stress demonstrably promotes the aging process (Nelson et al., 2011).
- Inclement weather – freezing cold or brisk, windy weather exposes the skin on your hands and face to the mercy of the elements. As a result, your skin develops cracks and sores that your body works hard to eliminate by repairing and renewing your skin cells, which in turn results in the accelerated aging of your skin (McCullough et al., 2006).
How can I slow down the unwelcome signs of aging?
Forget about fancy wrinkle creams and expensive skin formulas – healthy, younger looking skin comes from within and can only be achieved by taking plenty of regular exercise, benefitting from adequate amounts of sleep, reducing your exposure to stress, sunlight and toxins and, of course, enjoying a varied and balanced diet that’s rich in anti-aging superfoods.
The powerful, age-defying superfoods listed below are renowned for their impressive ability to combat wrinkles, crow’s feet and sagging skin. Incorporating just a small selection into your existing eating regimen will leave you with smoother, suppler skin that belies your age.
Superfoods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids
Omega three fatty acids help to keep cell membranes healthy and additionally reduce the body’s production of infectious agents that accelerate skin aging.
Superfoods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and can therefore help to encourage younger, smooth looking skin, include:
- Organic coconut oil
- Pure krill oil
- Nuts and seeds – such as organic almonds, organic walnuts and organic chia seeds
- Supergreens – including organic kale
Superfoods that are rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants seek out and destroy the free radicals that can lead to skin damage and aging.
Superfoods that are rich in antioxidants and thus help to promote wrinkle free skin include:
- Superfruits and berries – including organic goji berries, organic mulberries and organic acai berries, which contain vitamin C that helps to keep skin smooth and supple.
- Raw cacao products – such as organic cacao powder, organic cacao beans and organic cacao nibs.
- Organic matcha green tea powder – contains a special antioxidant known as epigallocatechin gallate or ECG, which can counteract the effects of free radicals from sunlight, pollution and other harmful toxins.
- Organic coconut oil – rich in antioxidant vitamin E, which helps to delay the deterioration linked to aging, such as wrinkles.
Drink more water – your skin will thank you for it!
Finally, don’t forget to drink plenty of pure spring water – water keeps your organs, tissue and cells (including your skin cells) adequately hydrated and helps to efficiently remove skin-aging waste products from your body. For visibly younger-looking skin, aim to drink at least two litres of pure, spring water every day or supplement a portion of this with another mineral rich, skin-friendly drink, such as organic coconut juice.