Have you ever wondered why sometimes people do not look their age? You probably know at least two people of the same age and neither of them look it. Some look older, some look younger. It is, of course, part of our genetic makeup that controls the way we look at every stage of our lives and the way we age. Some start ageing earlier in life while others look youthful till much later.
But our genes do not determine everything. I mean, they do, but not all of the information present in the genes gets to be expressed and other factors, such as our environment and lifestyle, affect which information gets expressed. It is the ever so popular question of Nature vs Nurture, and numerous studies show that nurture can play a far bigger role than nature. For example, one may have a mutated gene that could cause a disease, but a healthy lifestyle along with clean water and low pollution levels could silence that gene and the person would be healthy. On the other hand, a person could be genetically healthy, but bad lifestyle choices and environment could make them sick.
Health is not the only thing that is affected by these factors, but so is our appearance. When a child looks older or younger than s/he is, that is probably due to genetic makeup. But when you see two identical twins in their forties and one looks 5 years younger than another, isn’t it puzzling? That is just one hint how our lifestyle choices can affect our appearances. You can learn more about epigenetics, the study of gene expression under the influence of environmental and lifestyle factors, here.
Now, back to appearance and ageing. It is long known that certain things make us age quicker. They are smoking, alcohol, drugs, fried, processed, fatty and sugary foods, and toxic chemicals that are found everywhere from domestic cleaning and beauty products to gas emissions from transport. The more we are exposed to those harmful chemicals, the more they break our DNA and cause mutations and speed up ageing. Psychological stress is also one of the factors affecting the natural ageing process. Unfortunately, in the world we live in, it may seem impossible to escape from this toxicity and then we’re doomed. But the GOOD thing is,
Since the expression of your genes is modifiable, you can take measures right now that will help you to suppress the expression of bad or damaged genes and thus minimise your risks of disease and slow down the ageing process.
HOW CAN YOU IMPROVE YOUR GENE EXPRESSION?
The cell damage is caused by free radicals – molecules that have lost one of their electrons due to oxidation process and now damage other healthy molecules by robbing them of their electrons. Without the correct number of electrons those molecules, or cells, cannot function normally. To counteract the free radicals, your body produces antioxidants. But when the toxic load from a polluted environment and bad lifestyle choices becomes too much, the innate DNA protection becomes not enough.
One way to help protect your body from the harmful oxidants is to minimize your exposure to toxins. This means adopting healthy habits or breaking the bad ones.
- Quit smoking.
- Cut down on alcohol and prefer red wine to any other.
- Choose to eat whole foods instead of processed. Cut down on processed and refined foods, such as white flour, bread, rice and pasta, sugar and refined oils. Choose whole grains and cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil instead. Gently bake, poach or steam foods instead of frying and roasting.
- Surround your house with green plants, especially succulents, to eliminate toxins.
- Drink clean filtered water.
- Switch to natural cleaning products.
- Reduce the amount of plastic you use, especially when it comes to food.
Another way to fight the toxic load is to increase the antioxidant protection in your body.
- Eat fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants.
- Use herbs and spices – they are high in antioxidants, too.
- Hit your targets of vitamins A, C and E – they are also potent antioxidants.
- Engage in moderate physical activity – it boosts the natural antioxidant protection.
- Practice yoga or any other relaxation exercises to reduce oxidative stress.
- Use aromatherapy, salt rock lamps and other holistic methods to induce relaxation.
Now on to the actual subject of this post.
NUTRIENTS THAT KEEP YOUR SKIN YOUNG AND HEALTHY
There are many compounds in foods that can help you look young and have that healthy glow about your skin. They work in various ways, depending on the compound. Some help the natural process of detoxification by binding to toxins and eliminating them, others by neutralizing the free radicals, some protect the skin from the harmful UV rays or support the cell repair and formation. Before we look at the actual foods that can help to keep you young, it’s worth to note a few vitamins and minerals essential for skin health:
- Vitamin A is required for healthy skin and is a very potent antioxidant.
- Vitamin B2 is also needed for healthy skin, hair and nails, and a deficiency can cause cracked lips and eczema, which don’t look too healthy or youthful.
- Vitamin B3 is needed for skin health and a deficiency can cause acne, eczema and dermatitis.
- Vitamin B5 maintains healthy skin.
- Vitamin B6 deficiency can cause flaky skin – something we don’t want anyway, especially if we want to look radiant.
- Folic Acid deficiency can cause premature grey hair, eczema and cracked lips.
- Biotin is essential for skin and its deficiency symptoms are dry skin, premature grey hair, eczema and dermatitis.
- Vitamin C makes collagen, which is important for strong and healthy skin, and supports detoxification. Your skin may age prematurely or look dull if you’re deficient.
- Vitamin E is widely known to be good for skin. It also helps utilize oxygen, which can be only beneficial for radiant look.
- Calcium improves skin condition. Manganese reduces cell damage.
- Iron deficiency can make you look pale, which is not sightly even if the skin looks young. It delivers oxygen to cells, thus proving important for healthy looking skin.
- Selenium deficiency can cause premature ageing. It has antioxidant properties that fight against free radicals and reduce inflammation.
- Zinc deficiency can lead to greasy or pale skin, acne and stretch marks.
- Omega-3 & 6 deficiencies can also cause dry skin and eczema.
=> Not all of these micronutrients play an equally important role in keeping you young and healthy, but they are all essential nonetheless, and it is important to make sure that you get enough of them from food. If you think you may be deficient in any of them, it is best to speak with your doctor before you take any supplements.
2 MORE IMPORTANT THINGS:
- Water. We are water, at least over 1/2 of the human body is. And as little as 5% loss of water can produce symptoms of dehydration while losses over 10% can be fatal. Water is essential in every process in the body, it is a constituent of every organ and of every cell, including skin. Without enough water the skin will look dry and wrinkled, so an intake of 1.5 l to 2 l a day is a must.
- Fibre. White refined flours and grains lack this essential nutrients, which binds to toxins and removes them from the body. Choose wholegrain products whenever possible, and don’t forget about fruit and veg.
Now, the actual promised list
FOODS THAT KEEP YOU YOUNG AND HEALTHY INSIDE AND OUTSIDE
- Dark Chocolate
- Grapes, Red
- Green Tea
- Hemp seeds
- Olive oil
- Pumpkin seeds
- Red Wine
- Sesame seeds
- Sweet potato
The list is obviously not exhaustive, but these are foods with the highest content of vitamins and minerals required for young and healthy skin. Foods in bold are most known for their anti-ageing properties.
Sorry for the long post, but I felt that in order to shorten it I will have to remove a lot of good information.