We’ll not go into a long rant about the commercial cosmetic industry and its superficial approach to skin and shady ingredients. Instead we’ll dive deeper, literally deeper, into the inside layers of skin and the body chemistry because looking youthful comes from a healthy body and acts as a mirror. Some natural ingredients can be helpful applied topically and there are fantastic plants and their oils such as tea tree oil for problematic skin, aloe vera to calm it down, coconut oil to feed and soften it… but tired and wrinkly skin is a result of a nutrient imbalance that destroys the skin in the deep dermis layer. It’s a whole body deficiency issue. You can treat the surface but don’t forget to simultaneously work on getting healthy.
First things first. The skin builds itself up out of fat and protein, so going strictly low fat with your diet is the surest way to age your skin prematurely, thin it out and make it saggy and lifeless. You need fat since crucial vitamins for skin health are fat soluble and cannot be incorporated into the body’s tissues if you go zero fat. Fat is not the problem, you will not get fat from fat (unless you consume ridiculous amounts) you’ll get fat from carbs and sugars that insulin so readily jumps on and stores as fat. You need cholesterol and saturated fats to run the body and even the brain works better on ketones (fat fuel) than glucose. The little glucose it needs it can create from ketones. Ketosis is our natural body state in which there are far less harmful by-products just accumulation in the tissues. Our body makes cholesterol on its own and, if you eat more fat, it will just happily reduce its own production. It is not dumb and it strives towards homeostasis. You also need cholesterol to keep your hormones in check because a hormonal imbalance can age you like mad. Your job is to let it do its job and give it good fats such as butter, ghee, olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds (go easy on the nuts if you have any gallbladder issues) to help it dissolve and absorb the vitamins, and you need a healthy liver, sufficient bile and stomach acid to break down the fats.
The most important fat soluble vitamin is A. It will keep your skin soft, firm and youthfully bouncy and its deficiency will cause dry, scaly and dull skin. Vitamin A goes deep into the dermis and the genes that make collagen need it to function. You’re familiar with collagen as your body’s connective tissue, a sort of glue that keeps you together. To get more vitamin A introduce more eggs and don’t throw away the yolks, you need them. Get some cod liver oil, butter, salmon, shellfish… Another big one in protecting the skin against oxidative stress, scarring and premature aging is vitamin E. It supports the pituitary function and is necessary in producing adequate amounts of sex hormones. Have you ever seen women age 10 years during menopause (this is due to the sex hormones imbalance caused by the hibernation of the ovaries subsequent laziness of the pituitary). So incorporate leafy greens, olive oil, seeds and nuts.
One of the biggest enemies to the skin and aging of the body in general is AGE, not the passage of time age but as an abbreviation for Advanced Glycation End products, which come from stress (constant long term high cortisol), smoking and bad diets, especially when you regularly combine proteins and large amount of carbs (don’t eat bread with protein sources, you don’t need it). If you’ve started feeling and looking older it’s the accumulation of AGE so clean up your lifestyle, go more keto, skip a meal here and there to benefit from the fasting diagnose and repair mechanism (autophagy which destroys and recycles all of the old and useless protein just junking up the body and the growth hormone spike that follows autophagy, which then builds new stronger protein). Be religious about the sacred time of sleep and rest and recovery. When we sleep melatonin is produced which regulates the body’s own antioxidants production. Destress and declutter your life as much as you can. Go out and get out of your own head, sit in the sun, get some space, walk at the beach, stare at the mountains and sky, get some perspective on the things that stress you out. Inability to relax will burn out your adrenals and make you older, as fight or flight is a survival mechanism that is to be used in short bursts, not as a place you stay in for decades. Get some sun, but don’t allow your skin to burn, this is contra productive. Your body can repair and make its own antioxidants which are called endogenous antioxidants. Do some exercise, but don’t go overboard to punish your body. Find a sweet spot where you’re challenging yourself but leaving enough time for recovery. The magic of high intensity exercise is in recovery and sometimes you’re better off taking a long walk than doing PX90.
Don’t take unnecessary iron supplements if you’re not deficient or anaemic. Large amounts of iron damage the nerves, kidneys and age you in the oxidation process. Sugar has the same toxic effects and it causes oxidation of the red blood cells, impairing their function. Eliminate vegetable oils such as corn and soy (it’s an oestrogen disruptor). Keep away from chemicals, pesticides, GMO-s, and environmental toxins like the plague. They cause some serious damage to the tissues. Avoiding them completely is not really an option today but you can do a lot of good just by making a choice to not expose yourself more than absolutely necessary.
So it’s pretty much basics (that get lost in the white noise of fashionable new gimmicks) – eat well, clean and whole, don’t fall for the low fat (meaning high in sugar- read the labels!), get some colourful raw things on your plate every day (a plant based diet is ideal for most bodies), sleep well, allow for recovery after intense periods, remove yourself from negative situations and negative people and stop taking yourself so seriously. A bad mind-set, anger, frustration, worry, resentment, hate … will make you old (with zero effect on the thing you’re angry about, frustrated with, worrying about, resenting, hating…). Lifestyle choices and habits matter, and as long as you can change your choices you can change your life and health.