We all know that as we age the appearance of our skin changes, but what exactly causes that and is there anything we can do to slow down the process or even reverse some of the damage? Here Shabir Daya, pharmacist at Victoria Health, explains the process and shows us that yes indeed, there are things we can do. Hoorah! It turns out that certain supplements are a great way to restore the skin. I’m a firm believer that supplements are an important part of the health process and keeping ever young.
One of the things he mentions is hylauronic acid to be taken as a supplement. I also like to use it as a serum on my face. I use Dr Julia Hunter’s Hydration which I love.
Victoria Health also have a number of skin products that contain hylauronic acid.
Remember too, that nothing will keep your skin glowing more than exercise and and a healthy lifestyle! There is no getting away from it I’m afraid. I always think that products and treatments are the fun things that you can do which work even better if applied to a healthy fit body. And healthy living is a lot cheaper than creams and potions!
The ageing of skin is a multi-faceted process which is impacted by lifestyle, dietary choices and genetics. The cells of our bodies are programmed to have a finite lifespan. Each time a cell divides, some genetic material is lost so that on average, thirty to forty cell divisions is usually the maximum and after this the cell is considered to be aged. Obviously, external factors play a role in this process by damaging the genetic material, diets which enhance free radical production halt the regenerative process and the decline in the uptake of nutrients by the cells themselves results in the inability of the cells to regenerate due to lack of energy.
How your Skin Ages
Skin is like any other organ in the body and it ages over a period of time. Unlike the liver, kidneys and other organs, skin actually ages more rapidly because it is not only exposed to internal aggressions and toxins but it also has to cope with the external pollutants, radiation and other aggressions.
In order to understand the ageing of skin, we need to look at the outermost layer called the stratum corneum and what becomes of it over time. The stratum corneum is composed of flattened, hard, dead skin cells that resemble overlapping bricks, which start as living cells in the lower skin layers. As they are pushed closer to the surface, they flatten out and die, resulting in a thin but very tough barrier.
These flat cells would normally flake away immediately except for the fact that they are held together by a flexible skin cement, nearly 40% of which is composed of ceramides. If you think of the stratum corneum cells as bricks and the skin cement as the mortar that holds them in place.
In youth, the outer layers of skin are replaced roughly every 40 days. The ceramides and lipids within the skin cement are constantly replenished by nutrients brought to the deeper skin layers by the bloodstream.
As we age, our skin, like all the other organs in our bodies, slows down. It takes roughly 50% longer for the outer cell layers to reach the surface by the time we reach our fifties. Worse, the amount of ceramides and other lipids in the skin cement that holds the skin cells is weakened. This results in the loss of moisture that is common as we age. Additionally, the weakened barrier allows access to pollutants and radiation which can affect the deeper layers where collagen and elastin production occur.
Free radical damage and radiation damage result in inflammation of skin which triggers the production of enzymes that degrade collagen, the main structural protein, and elastin which gives skin its flexibility and suppleness. It is therefore vital to maintain the health of the outer skin cement comprising primarily of ceramides and lipids.
Ceramides maintain youthful skin
As mentioned above, ceramides and lipids compose the skin cement that holds the outer cell layers together and a decline in ceramides, which occurs with age, weakens this layer resulting in the loss of moisture and allows free radical damage. Loss of moisture leaves the skin surface pale and dry with fine wrinkles. Free radical damage can lead to inflammation which affects collagen and elastin production, a change that may lead to deeper wrinkles. The obvious solution is to replace the lost ceramides.
In the early 1990’s, leading cosmetic companies marketed ceramide-based topical skincare products for treating fine lines, wrinkles and dryness. This topical approach whilst improving the skin’s barrier function cannot however match the steady stream of ceramides from within.
A little over a decade ago, scientists discovered that many grains including wheat, rice and corn also contained naturally occurring ceramides. One company decided to explore the potential of wheat derived ceramides for use as a skin moisturiser that could be taken orally. Studies indicated that the ceramides in this wheat extract reached the outer cell layer from the bloodstream significantly improving skin moisture levels and reducing the discomfort of dry, ageing skin.
The world’s first ceramide-rich extract of wheat is now marketed as Skin Restoring Phytoceramides. It is derived exclusively from wholegrain, non- genetically modified wheat containing purified oils. This extract is free from gluten and other allergens. Clinical studies proved that wheat ceramide supplementation measurably enhanced skin moisture levels and contributed to smoother, more comfortable skin all over the body including the face. Wheat ceramides offer a scientifically proven means of enhancing beauty from within.
My other recommendations
Ageing of the skin as mentioned above is a multi-faceted process. Using Skin Restoring Phytoceramides is only part of the equation in maintaining healthy and radiant skin. Ceramides maintain a healthy outer barrier that locks moisture in and helps prevent external aggressions from drying skin out.
In order to maintain healthy skin, we need to influence the cells that manufacture collagen as well as elastin and to ensure that collagen matrix is not broken down. Almost half of the body’s hyaluronic acid is located in the collagen of skin and it is logical that HA plays a vital role here. Hyaluronic acid helps to retain over a 1000 times its weight in water within the cells of skin, making it an excellent moisturizer. In fact, no other biological substance can retain as much water as HA resulting in increased smoothness, softening and decreased wrinkles. Equally important is its ability to remove waste matter from cells including those where there is little blood circulation. The removal of waste and toxins from the cells helps to prevent a dull like appearance. The supplement I recommend is Hyaluronic Acid High Strength which is vegetarian and is without side effects.
My final recommendation for protecting the skin against ageing is the use of a good antioxidant. Antioxidants are compounds that protect the skin and the body’s glands, including every single cell, from unstable damaging molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals come from a variety of sources including environmental pollution, cigarette smoke and even by the mere fact that the body breaks down foods to obtain energy releasing these damaging molecules into the bloodstream. When these damaging molecules reach the collagen matrix, they damage the chemical structure of collagen causing the skin to become damaged. This process ultimately leads to the formation of fine lines, wrinkles and loss of firmness.
Ideally we should get our antioxidants from our diet, however this is simply not possible for numerous reasons including nutritionally inadequate food, poor farming practices, stress and poor eating habits which all ruin our chances of getting sufficient antioxidants through our diet. It is for this reason that whilst I urge everyone to eat as healthily as possible, I still recommend the use of a potent super-antioxidant High Potency Astaxanthin by Futurebiotics.
There are literally hundreds of supplements that claim to have anti-ageing properties including a variety of marine-based extracts, countless antioxidants and several vitamins and minerals. In order to maintain healthy and radiant skin, you have to protect, nourish and prevent damage to the cells of skin and the above mentioned three supplements do exactly this.
This content is not intended to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare practitioner.