FoodHealth

Eat Your Way to Beautiful Skin

Nature’s makeup not only makes you look beautiful, it also helps protect your skin against the effects of ultraviolet light. Exposure to sunlight increases the amount of melanin in the skin in order to protect the skin from damage. Individuals with greater levels of melanin in the skin, such as those with dark complexions, are better equipped for protecting their skin from the sun, as the darker the skin is, the more melanosomes present.

This is why sunscreen is heavily used among pale populations but is not as necessary for those with dark skin. Darker skin hinders UVA rays from penetrating, and as such, darker-skinned individuals tend to show fewer signs of aging in their skin and have lower risks of developing skin cancer.

A final factor that influences your risk of skin cancer is the presence of DNA repair enzymes in the skin. These enzymes protect skin against damage from free radicals, such as those produced when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Normally, these repair enzymes keep the DNA in good shape. People who lack the genes for these repair enzymes have a higher risk of developing skin cancer.

Unfortunately, you cannot improve your DNA, but you can stop free radicals by consuming the antioxidants available in many fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, and nuts. Eating antioxidant-rich foods can help reduce everyone’s risk of skin cancer. In fact, antioxidants protect your entire body from free radical damage. By simply fine-tuning your diet to include healthy, antioxidant-laden foods, you can give your skin the self-defense it needs to fight damage and aging.

Foods That Fight Wrinkles

WHEN WRINKLES FORM in the skin, many factors are involved, including age, genetics, sun exposure, smoking, and, of course, diet. All wrinkles are a sign of damage, and this type of repetitive damage to the skin may be hard to avoid completely. However, it is possible to reduce wrinkling due to age, which most people wrongly assume is an inevitable part of getting older.

This is not to say that you can reach 80 years of age without any wrinkles, but, by avoiding skin damage from the sun, chemicals, and other sources you can grow older with noticeably younger-looking skin.

Know the Enemy: What Causes Wrinkles?

Wrinkles emerge and become more pronounced as skin ages. As early as age 25, you can begin to see the signs of aging. The skin is slower in its ability to heal. Small abrasions and cuts take longer to disappear than they did in your teens. Old cells are replaced more slowly. As we reach our mid-forties, we begin to see more drastic changes in our skin as we experience hormone fluctuations. Skin begins to thin and become more fragile and sensitive.

Having strong skin is a key factor in wrinkle prevention. The integrity of collagen and elastin compounds in the skin is most important. Collagen makes up 75 percent of our skin; it is the main structural component that gives our skin strength and elasticity. Elastin helps skin to return to its original position when it is poked or pinched.

An accumulation of environmental factors damages the skin and causes wrinkles. Damage to collagen and elastin coils reduces the elasticity and strength of the skin. The skin will attempt to repair collagen and elastin damage if the proper nutrients are present and the rate of damage is not overwhelming. However, too few nutrients and too much damage can overwhelm the skin, causing wrinkles to form. Add in gravity, which causes jowls and drooping eyelids, and you have age wrinkles.

Ultraviolet Light Causes Many Problems for the Skin

Excessive sun exposure eventually damages the skin. It causes the elastic fibers, which normally keep skin resilient, to clump. When the fibers clump, the skin wrinkles and can eventually become leathery. Ultraviolet light also depresses the immune system, which may explain why many people infected with the herpes simplex or cold sore virus are more likely to have an eruption after sunbathing. Over-exposure to the sun can also alter the DNA of skin cells and in this way lead to skin cancer.

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