If you’re on a weight loss regimen, what you eat and drink and the types of exercise you do or don’t do can affect your skin’s aging process.
Our skin has large amounts of collagen, which acts like a sort of “grout” between skin cells. As we age, we naturally lose some collagen from our skin, but we never stop making it.
A balanced diet, including adequate amounts of protein and healthy fats is critical to our health, and also to the way our skin appears. We can’t make collagen protein without eating the building blocks of protein – amino acids. This is very easy for most of us living in the western world where we have access to unlimited amounts of high quality protein in the form of meats, fish, eggs, etc. It becomes a little trickier for vegans, as they have to really watch their diet and make sure they eat the right combination of amino acids present in vegetable foods to produce the proteins we need.
Avoiding sugars is also very important. Eating too much sugar has been linked to increased protein glycation, which breaks down your collagen and leads to the aging of your skin. Diabetics, for instance, show more aging of the skin because they run a higher risk of elevated blood glucose.
Surprisingly, self-tanning products containing dihydroxyacetone also increase protein glycation, which can lead to premature aging (As discovered in this study). Make sure you check the ingredients in your self-tanner if you use one.
By far the best way to both prevent protein glycation and help keep your skin healthy is anti-oxidants. There are many, many anti-oxidants that are super for our skin, including Vitamin E and C, so eating our fruits and vegetables and consuming healthy fats – butter, fish oils, seeds such as hemp, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame are all good ways of getting our anti- oxidants, as is drinking tea – either green or black tea. Tea contains EGCG and theaflavins that help prevent skin cancer and the breakdown of collagen.
However, if we’re talking skin-care, by far the best source of anti-oxidants is the Pinot noir grape. Now we’re talking! So, drink a glass of Pinot noir a day (no more than 5 or 6 ounces), and if you want to be really pro-active when it comes to your skin, take grape seed extract as a supplement.
The type of exercise you choose to do is also very important. Weight-training causes your muscles to become firmer and slightly larger and this effect enhances your skin appearance from the neck down. For the skin of your face, yoga is the best exercise for increasing the blood flow to your face (think Downward Dog) and relaxing your facial muscles (shivasana or corpse pose) to soften fine lines.
And of course, nothing beats a good night’s sleep for helping you look better too. Sleep, especially alpha phase sleep, is the time our bodies repair the protein glycation that has been happening all day. Although there is controversy over this, many dermatologists recommend applying night cream with anti-oxidants in it. A very powerful anti-oxidant is Retin-A, but it is also extremely irritating to the skin so should only be used under medical supervision. A much milder one which also works is resveratrol, sourced from – you guessed it – grape seeds. You can find resveratrol in some skin creams, such as Azelique, which is available from iherb.com (for Canadians – I have been ordering from iherb.com for about a year and have been very pleased with their prices and customer service. I have not had to pay any duty as long as the package is under $40. Feel free to use this code to get $10 off your first order of $40 JAQ901).