12 March 2018

How to Avoid Wrinkles & Slow Down Skin Ageing

Few of us are happy to find another wrinkle staring back at us from the bathroom mirror. Indeed, millions of pounds are spent each year on pricey cosmetics and surgical procedures designed to keep our skin looking smooth, supple and youthful. But despite all this expense could we be missing out on a whole list of strategies?

As it turns out, the answer might just be “yes”.

Repeated laboratory studies have revealed a number of natural, low cost solutions for slowing down the process of skin aging. Here are some top tips to help keep you avoid wrinkles and slow down skin aging...

Protect Against Sun Damage
One of the most common causes of “skin ageing” is what dermatologist’s term “photodamage” - quite literally damage from light. While most of us appreciate the importance of slapping on the suntan lotion before heading to the beach growing evidence suggests that this might not be enough to confer total protection.


For example, most sunscreens are designed to prevent the damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) light. Unfortunately scientists increasing believe that other types of light can also lead to ageing - including the visible light all around us.

Furthermore, while we tend to liberally apply sunscreen on the hottest and sunniest days of the year sunlight still has the potential to cause damage on cloudier days. Consider just how often your face or hands are exposed to direct sunshine without protection and you can start to understand the problem.

Fortunately there is a reasonably easy solution to this issue, in the form of the growing evidence that consuming antioxidants may confer additional protection.

One example of a plant that has been studied extensively in this department is known as milk thistle. This plant contains a substance known as “silymarin”. A laboratory study into the benefits of milk thistle concluded that “silymarin… exhibits preventative and anticancer effects against skin cancer” whileanother claimed that “silymarin may favourably supplement sunscreen protection and provide additional… protection”.

Sadly, while milk thistle has shown impressive protection against photodamage, it typically isn’t available as a wild plant that can be added to your next salad. Instead, you’ll normally need to source it in tablet form either online or from your local health food shop.

However it’s not just milk thistle that seems to offer additional protection against sun damage. Other examples of substances showing potential include a range of vitamins, selenium, zinc and tea. 

Making sure you eat a wide variety of different plants is likely to be the most effective solution here, as each one has their own range of antioxidants. By consuming a range of different fruits and vegetables - and aiming to hit your “five a day” you may well help to keep your skin in top condition for longer.

Reduce Your Sugar Intake
It’s no secret that diets that are high in refined sugars can make you more likely to put on weight. What you might not realise is that such diets may also put your skin at risk, increasing the signs of ageing.


When we consume high levels of sugar these molecules can attach to collagen. This chemical process, known as glycosylation, creates harmful byproducts known as Advanced Glycation End Products (or AGE’s for short). Interestingly, studies have also found that exposure to sunlight rapidly speeds up the production of AGEs in the body.

Scientists have shown that higher AGE levels in the body are closely associated with symptoms of skin ageing such as wrinkling or a loss of elasticity. Therefore it follows that reducing your intake of sugar may help to slow down the ageing process.

Bulk Up on Vitamin C
Vitamin C isn’t just handy for fighting colds and other infections; it may also help to keep our skin looking younger. Experts believe that the reason vitamin C can have such a beneficial impact is its antioxidant properties.

One fascinating study asked 4025 women between the ages of 40 and 74 to complete a survey detailing their typical diet, before their skin was assessed for signs of aging. The nutritionists then calculated their intake of various nutrients, looking for patterns between diet and skin aging.

The results showed a clear relationship between the appearance of wrinkles and consumption of vitamin C. They also found that a higher intake of linoleic acid was associated with less skin dryness.

Both of these nutrients are surprisingly easy to bulk up on. For linoleic acid a range of seeds, nuts and vegetable oils are great sources. Vitamin C is found in a whole range of different fruits - with citrus fruits perhaps being the best-known. For ease, vitamin C is also commonly available in supplement form, or may also be included in some moisturizers.

Eat More Fruit & Vegetables
Plant-based foods offer a huge number of benefits for anyone concerned about maintaining youthful skin. As we have seen, they contain a huge number of different nutrients known to offer antioxidant protection. Many of them are also rich in vitamin C, and at least in terms of non-starchy vegetables they tend to be low in refined sugars.


There’s more. A study involving 716 women in Japan found that participants whose diet contained large volumes of green and yellow vegetables suffered from fewer wrinkles than those consuming fewer vegetables, while a study in Australia found links between lower skin wrinkling and a diet that is high in “vegetables, legumes and olive oil”.

So throw away that junk food and instead bulk on the salad - it might just be the best thing you can do to keep your skin looking healthy and youthful.

Eat More (of the Right) Fat
Fat has got itself a bad name in recent decades, with many people assuming that high fat diets lead to weight gain. While this may well be true with somefats there are others that are positively beneficial. Just one area where these “good fats” seem to have an impact is in keeping your skin in tiptop condition.

Those two studies we mentioned above that looked for links between diet and skin aging also found that dietary fat is likely to have an impact too. For example, it has been shown that people consuming plenty of saturated fats are more likely to suffer from skin aging. This means you should probably lay off the butter, cheese and full-fat milk.

In contrast, feel free to bulk up on “healthy fats” - the so-called unsaturated fats found in nuts, seeds, avocados, fish and vegetable oils. Fortunately this advice fits neatly into our advice on giving up the junk food and focusing on a more plant-based diet. 


Maintain a Healthy BMI
BMI - or “body mass index” - is a metric that tries to measure whether you are overweight or underweight for your height. While BMI certainly has its weaknesses it can be a useful guideline.

Where BMI becomes interesting is where it related to facial aging. A survey gathered together 1,826 twins, took photos of their faces, and then asked experienced nurses to guess their age. The results showed that participants who were underweight - that is they had a low BMI - were generally judged as much older than twins with a more normal body weight.

The message here is that while maintaining a healthy weight won’t necessarily have a direct impact on your skin condition, the evidence suggests that you’ll still look older than you really are.

Conclusion
As we have seen, while expensive skin creams and cosmetic procedures may have their place, a holistic approach to younger skin can also be beneficial. Indeed, many people would argue that protecting yourself from the sun, getting in shape and changing your diet are a lot cheaper, easier and less painful than the alternatives. Indeed, these practices are likely to have a far greater effect on your skin - and your overall health - by treating the cause rather than just the symptoms.

5 comments:

  1. TOTALLY agree - a well balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle is THE key to staying young

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  2. I couldn't resist commenting. Very well written!

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  3. Very comprehensive and informative. Now all I have to do is follow it all!

    Hazel Rea - @beachrambler

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  4. I'm 39 and dreading looking older as up until now I've looked very young

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  5. I have noticed more lines on my forehead so any advice on how to minimise them or prevent more is great x

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