Saturday, February 23, 2013

Slowing Down Aging Pt 2

Earlier, I started posting about how to slow down the aging process.  I only talked about one thing: keeping your hormone production going. The reason for this has nothing to do with making babies (although it has helped women over 40 get pregnant). I'm talking about hormone production in regards to physical signs of aging. Healthy sex hormones keep your production of collagen going as you age, which reduces your wrinkles. In order to avoid wrinkles, skin needs collagen, elasticity and moisture.

Collagen is a protein. It's produced with the help of vitamin C, threonine and proline (amino acids), and omega-3 fatty acids. Proline is already produced by your body. Threonine, however, has to come from food. It's in stuff like watercress, fish, eggs, soybeans, turnip greens, kidney beans, soybeans, chickpeas & hummus, snap beans, asparagus, eggs, milk, pork, beef and chicken. (It's primarily in meat, but vegetarians can get a super high dose of it from watercress.

And without going into the boring details of things like molecules, hydrogen atoms and lipids, I'll just list foods that will support damaged collagen, protect healthy collagen, and produce more collagen:

AVOCADOS! This is the best superfood there is for anti-aging.
olives and olive oil
all brightly colored fruits; strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, cranberries, red grapes, etc.
threonine-rich foods like the ones listed above
anything with vitamin C in it (Vitamin C is the major player in collagen production)

Vitamin E prevents the oxidation (destruction) of lipid cells. Lipid cells are good fat cells, and they keep your skin moist and supple. Vitamin E is a very powerful fat-soluble antioxidant and keeps omega-3 fatty acids from dying. And you definitely want a lot of omega-3 fatty acids... which come from:
flax seeds
fish oil
fresh basil

Antioxidants. Most physical signs of aging happen when free radicals invade our cells and kill them. Cells go through a life cycle where they take in nutrients, perform their duties, then expel waste. When they expel waste, it goes running around in the body like crazy people on a shooting rampage. The waste is called free radicals, and they attack cells, causing them to die. This is what oxidation is.
Antioxidants come in like warriors and kill the free radicals before they have a chance to attack. Although there are other factors to aging, oxidation is the one most responsible. So if you can get a handle on this one, you're doing really well.

Other things that dry out skin and take away its elasticity:

1. Sugar. Too much sugar will show up as wrinkles. Especially white refined sugar. Reduce your sugar as much as you can (I have a hard time with this one). If you absolutely have to have sugar, use brown sugar and honey instead of the white stuff. Usually as a rule of thumb, remember that white things are bad (potatoes, bread, sugar, flour, etc.) Carbs produce a lot of sugar, so cut way down on them. Too much sugar will dehydrate your skin from the inside. Natural sugars in fruits are fine.
2. Smoking. Nicotine constricts blood vessels and prevents blood from flowing to the skin. Without blood flowing to your skin, it doesn't get oxygen and nutrients. If you're smoking cigarettes that are not natural tobacco, you have something else to worry about. The toxic chemical additives will destroy collagen and elastin. 
3. Chlorine. If you're swimming in pools regularly, make sure you wash off with soap. Chlorine will stick to your skin and dry it out.
4. Caffine. Caffine dries you out, so drink plenty of water if you're getting too much caffine.
5. Skipping meals when you're hungry will actually dry out your skin and age you. Keep an orange with you so that doesn't happen.
6. Hot showers and baths. Don't let the water get too hot, and don't shower every day. (Unless you're doing something really hard core or grungy every day) Hot water damages and dehydrates skin, and too much washing does, too. We're all trained to think we're supposed to scrub the heck out of ourselves every single day, and that's just overkill unless you're working in a coal mine or something.
7. No sleep. Deep, sound sleep does more than relax all your muscles and stop pain. It also rehydrates and replentishes your skin.
8. Salt. Too much salt will dry you out and turn you into a walking beef jerky.
9. Shower heads. Since most of us aren't lucky enough to have spring water on tap, we get bad chemicals like chlorine coming through our shower heads. An idea if you're a bit vain like me is to invest in a shower water filter.
10. Excessive alcohol. Duh.
11. Too much sun exposure. Double duh.

Drink water, water, and more water! Exercise every day, even if you're just getting outside for a walk down the street. (The more exercise you get, the younger your skin will look)

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