Most of us are born with healthy, supple skin. However, as we age our skin loses its glow and becomes less able to cope with everyday wear and tear. The good news is that although healthy skin is partly due to your genes, there is a lot that we can do to make our skin look glowing and youthful.
The skin is the largest organ of the body that provides a protective barrier between the outside environment and the internal tissues and organs from pathogens, chemicals, and environmental exposures. Skin is made of three layers – epidermis, dermis and subcutis. The epidermis is the upper outer layer of the skin which is responsible for the barrier functions while the dermis is the inner layer of soft tissue situated below the epidermis that forms the structural and nutritive support network of the skin. The inner most layer is the subcutis which contains a layer of adipose tissue that helps keep the body warm and also protects the vital organs of the body. The epidermis is constantly in a state of repair and regeneration as we shed dead skin cells and regenerate new ones daily. As a result, it is quick to show any internal imbalances or deficiencies. Since our skin plays such a vital role, it is important to take care of it. There are a number of factors that can affect the health of our skin and some of them are:
Sleep: During sleep the body restores and repairs itself as the skin makes new collagen. Collagen is a protein that is present in the skin. When the skin contains more collagen it is plumper and less likely to sag and wrinkle. Sleep also boosts blood flow to the skin making it healthy and glowing. A lack of it can cause your complexion to look drab, ashen or lifeless. Hair loss, breakage, damage and even growth of hair can all be affected by lack of sleep. The hair follicles derive nourishment from the blood and sleep deprivation results in decreased blood flow leading to weakening of the hair. Sleep deprivation also leads to stress that causes an increase in the levels of the cortisol hormone leading to hair loss. So, if you want to have healthy and glowing skin and hair, make sure you take the time to relax and sleep.
Alcohol consumption: Drinking too much of alcohol can cause the skin to become dehydrated. Dehydrated skin loses its elasticity and is more likely to develop wrinkles.
Smoking: There is strong evidence linking smoking and premature skin ageing. Smoking constricts the blood vessels in the skin thereby reducing the supply of oxygen to the skin. The toxins in cigarettes also breakdown collagen and lead to the development of wrinkles.
Water: Besides the nutrients, drinking adequate amount of water is a very important aid to keep the skin clear and glowing as it moisturises the skin cells and helps flush out toxins.
Processed Foods: White bread, sugary foods and fizzy drinks all cause insulin spikes, leading to inflammation throughout the body causing skin proteins – collagen and elastin – to break down resulting in premature ageing. Sugar also attaches itself to collagen in a process called glycation, which can aggravate acne related conditions. Foods high in salt and sodium can cause puffiness around the face — especially under the eyes. This is because salt causes your body to retain water.
Hygiene: Keeping the skin clean helps prevent breakouts and infections.
Regular Physical Activity: Being physically active and exercising regularly helps improve blood flow to the skin thereby giving skin a healthy glow.
To be continued. . .
(Writer is a consultant nutritionist with 20 years of experience, practicing at Panaji and can be contacted on [email protected])