Staying young with anti-ageing strategies
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There are several strategies that can be used to ensure your skin stays young and supple and prevent wrinkles:
- Having the right parents (genetics)
- Eating the right foods
- Avoiding too much sun
- Using sunscreen
- Avoid pollution
- Don't smoke
There is not much you can do about your genetic heritage, but if you know what you are genetically predisposed to, you can use these strategies to manage them and even keep them at bay for as long as possible. Some ways to do this are described in the other strategies below.
Certain foods are reknowned to have anti-ageing properties:
Vegetables and fruit contain the highest levels of all of the antioxidants. The main antioxidants that is useful to build collagen for skin elasticity (which is require to prevent deep wrinkles) is vitamin C.
Beneath the top layer of the skin is a network of elastin and collagen fibres which provides the basis of the skin and helps keep the skin together. As we age, skin loses elasticity because the underlying collagen becomes saggy and allows wrinkles to be formed.
To prevent this from happening too quickly or at a rapid rate, the collagen under the skin needs to be maintained in a healthy way. The best foods to eat are ones rich in antioxidants and especially in vitamin C.
Vitamin C is an antioxidants that works specifically on repairing and building collagen, thus preventing wrinkles.
Antioxidants, in general, remove free radicals from the body. Among other things, free radicals make the body age, cause wrinkles to form.
The other important antioxidants beneficial for supple skin and reducing wrinkles, are vitamin A (or betacrotene) and vitamin E. Vitamin A (or betacarotene) is necessary for healthy, supple skin (from the inside out) and vitamin E which also helps to ensure skin is soft and supple.
The foods that contain the highest levels of antioxidants are the fruit and vegetables which are the most brightly coloured, such as blueberries, red grapes, strawberries, mango, kiwi fruit, carrots, tomatoes.
Essential fatty acids
Essential fatty acids help to plump up the cells in the skin, making the skin appear softer and less dry. Essential fatty acids, nourish the skin and make it appear more youthful and radiant and reduce inflammation in all of the body.
Best sources of essential fatty acids are - good quality olive oil, cold pressed vegetable oils, avocados, nuts, seeds and oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel. Evening primrose oil and fish oils are also good sources of of essential fatty acids and are usually taken in capsule form.
Essential fatty acids not only help to prevent and slow down wrinkles, they also help to clear up problem, acne-prone skin because they remove inflammation.
The essential fatty acids that are the most beneficial for the skin, are: omega-3 fatty acids and gama-linoleic acid (GLA) which is found in evening primrose oil and borage oil. These are best taken internally, but can also be found in certain lotions for the skin.
The suns rays contain UVA and UVB light - UVA causes wrinkles and is also thought to cause the most malignant form of skin cancer, UVB light causes sunburn and the non-malignant forms of skin cancer.
Getting sunburnt too many times at a young age is thought to cause malignant skin cancer at a later age, in those people susceptible to it.
Some strategies to avoid sun damage:
- If your heritage is light skinned with/without freckles, this means that you need to mainly avoid the harsh rays of the sun especially at the time of day when it is the strongest (between 11am-3pm) and use use sun-screen regularly, especially if you are outside a lot, or at the beach, to prevent damage to your skin, especially on your face, neck and hands. This rule applies to everyone but is especially relevant to those with lighter skin and who are more prone to skin damage
- Cover up any exposed parts of the body to avoid sun damage
- Always wear a wide-brimmed hat to cover your face if you are out in the sun for extended periods of time, especially in the middle of the day and during the hot summer months
- Always wear sunglasses when outside
Sunscreen is a good option on the skin of the face and neck, as these areas are delicate and are most prone to damage and wrinkles from the sun.
Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours when you are in the sun and every time you come out of the water, if you are swimming and have spent a long time in the water, as the water can remove the sunscreen that has been applied.
SPF is the Sun Protection Factor that a sunscreen provides - it gives an indication of how long a sunscreen will protect the skin from burning than if the skin did not have any sunscreen. An SPF of 30 will protect the skin for 30 times longer than if no sunscreen was applied.
SPF factor only applies to the protection from UVB rays, but doesn't necessarily give the same protection against UVA rays.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has recently pointed out that there are many chemicals in most sunscreens that are not good for humans as they are associated with a number of adverse health effects.
To find out if your sunscreen is safe, check Skin Deep, the EWG's Cosmetic Safety Database.
Pollution from car fumes and other environmental toxins has a detrimental effect on the whole body, but especially on the skin, as it can cause pre-mature ageing.
Polluted air contains lead, mercury and a whole host of other heavy metals, which are toxic.
Strategies to avoid pollution:
- Stay away from really busy roads
- If your house / apartment faces a busy road, try not to open the windows / doors at the busy times when there are a lot of cars
- Always wash your face when you come home from a trip into the city
- Eat lots of fruit and vegetables, espcially leafy green vegetables
Smoking causes so many and varied harmful effects on every organ in the whole body, not just the lungs, which are the most affected.
Smoking causes pre-mature ageing, which means it causes lots of wrinkles on young skin, especially in the skin around the mouth and the eyes.
The best strategy to avoid the damage of smoking is to stop it.