Choices made in our 20s and 30s tend to show up in our 40s, 50s and beyond. The appearance of our skin is where we visually notice the first signs of aging. As we age, hormones decline, skin cells regenerate slower and become overloaded with toxins, gravity takes effect, and collagen and oil-producing glands become less active. No need to fret! Here are 12 of my personal and natural, age-defying tips for healthy, younger-looking skin.
1. Use food as medicine for healthy, younger-looking skin. There’s a direct correlation between the quality and nutrient-density of the foods you eat and the condition of your skin.
♦ Thumbs up: Healthy fats from avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, wild salmon, sardines, whole eggs, pasture-raised butter, nuts and seeds (if you’re not sensitive to them), and organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised and free-range animal protein. Tons of fresh, organic leafy greens, cucumbers, celery, sea veggies and colorful plants and veggies. Fruits (apples, kiwi, papaya, watermelon, pomegranate, dark-skinned grapes, lemons, cherries and berries), yams and sweet potatoes; collagen peptide powder; fresh aloe vera; garlic and onions; turmeric (curcumin); bone broth and raw cacao.
♦ Thumbs down: Inflammatory foods such as wheat, gluten, sugar, grains, rancid vegetable oils and trans fats, fried foods, factory-farmed meat, processed foods, fat-free and low-fat foods, artificial sweeteners, GMOs, pesticides, preservatives, artificial sweeteners and additives, which are a direct cause dry skin, hair loss, brittle nails and accelerated wrinkling of the skin, aging and inflammation.
♦ Eliminate foods you’re sensitive to that increase inflammation and can cause a variety of skin problems including dark circles under the eyes, hives, acne, eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis.
2. Heal the gut and optimize digestion. The quality of your skin is strongly linked to the health of your gut. Skin, hair and nail problems are often the result of an unhealthy gut. Identify the root cause of digestive problems: conditions such as leaky gut, infections (Candida overgrowth, H.pylori, bacterial, viral and parasites), constipation, low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria) and abnormal bowel flora all affect the health of your skin. Check out these tips for healthy digestion.
3. Beauty Sleep, the fountain of youth. Aim for 6-8 hours of sleep every night. During restful, uninterrupted sleep the skin and body repair, the brain gets rid of toxins via the glymphatic system, and growth hormone is released, which helps skin remain thick, more elastic and less likely to wrinkle.
4. Manage stress. The appearance of our skin reflects our overall health including stressful lifestyles, emotional unhappiness, work-related anxiety, toxic overload, relationship stress, sleep deprivation and lack of rest. Excess cortisol production damages elastin and collagen, and prevents the skins ability to repair.
♦ Practice daily de-stressing techniques: here are some of my favorites! It’s important to make time to enjoy personal downtime and relaxation every single day (meditate; total body and facial massage; yin and restorative yoga; vitamin N, nature; walking; read something uplifting, inspiring or spiritual; helping others; listen to your favorite music; daily quiet time, solitude and deep breathing; daily prayer time; gratitude, gratitude and more gratitude!).
5. This one is a no brainer — if you smoke, quit!
6. Drink more water! Hydrate from the inside out! The simple act of drinking more clean, filtered water does wonders for the appearance of your skin. Dry skin and cracked lips can be a direct consequence of dehydration. Install a water filter in the shower and a reverse osmosis in the kitchen to filter out chlorine, fluoride and other harmful chemicals. Minimize intake of dehydrating beverages (too much caffeine or alcohol). Avoid drinking alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime. Alcohol increases the risk for capillary breaks, and causes sagging, bloating and puffiness.
7. Move Your Body Every Day to increase circulation and bring oxygen to the skin. Oxygen is an important ingredient for healthy skin. Lift weights, perform short bursts of your favorite activity and always balance with more yin-style activities such as walking, yoga, Qi gong, Tai chi, gardening or whatever you enjoy doing to get your body moving.
♦ Bounce/rebound on a mini trampoline to increase circulation and stimulate the lymphatic system.
♦ Avoid excessive amounts of exercise, especially long, slow distance (LSD) exercise, which is inflammatory, causes oxidative damage and premature aging of the skin, disrupts hormones, increases cortisol and lowers testosterone, and accelerates cellular aging.
8. Love your Liver. Minimize chemical exposure and reduce sources of inflammation. The list is extensive and includes excessive exercising, consistently staying up late, partying and heavy drinking, gum disease, dental infections, household chemicals, heat and air conditioned air, underlying infections, air pollution, toxic overload, pesticides, glyphosate, GMOs, obesogens, negative thoughts, eating sugar, processed inflammatory foods, and foods you’re body’s sensitive to.
♦ Sunshine and daily sunlight are essential for health, vitality and longevity, however chronic sun exposure is destructive to the skin, robbing the skin of moisture, and breaking down the protective lipid barrier. Summer weather and intense prolonged sun exposure can wreak havoc on your skin. Many commercial sunscreens contain chemicals that mimic hormones and disrupt hormones, block your body’s natural ability to produce vitamin D, and can cause other problems such as skin irritation or allergy and skin damage.
Natural, non-toxic, chemical-free protection from the sun: sulphoraphane (found in broccoli sprouts and other cruciferous veggies), astaxanthin, curcumin, sesame, avocado, coconut and olive oil, resveratrol and vitamin D.
9. Balance hormones. Too much testosterone, increased or decreased cortisol, adrenal insufficiency, thyroid imbalances, and too much or too little estrogen can affect the appearance of your skin. Oral contraceptives, antibiotics, and many OTC and prescription drugs cause hormone imbalances. According to John R. Lee, M.D., author of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Menopause estriol, the weakest form of estrogen applied to the skin reverses wrinkling and should be an essential part of an anti-aging skin regimen.
♦ Optimize liver function, which is a possible cause of hormone imbalances, age spots and undesirable skin conditions.
10. Maintain a healthy weight. Avoid extreme dieting, which takes its toll on the appearance of your skin. Diets, extreme fasting and many cleanses are a major stressor to the body, destructive to metabolism, create hormonal disruption, shut down the thyroid, cause nutrient deficiencies, muscle loss, older looking skin, fat storage, and added weight gain once you’re off the diet.
11. Nutrient support. Did you know there’s an association between aging skin, wrinkles and nutrient deficiencies such as omega-3s, essential fatty acids and vitamin D? Include high-grade quality omega-3 fatty acids with GLA (borage, black currant seed or evening primrose oil), digestive enzymes with HCL, vitamin D and probiotics as part of your healthy, younger-looking skin regime.
♦ Other nutrients for healthy younger-looking skin include vitamin A, vitamin D, Vitamin E, B vitamins (B2, B3, B6, B12), vitamin C, zinc, astaxanthin, probiotics, alpha lipoic acid, CoQ10 and collagen peptides.
12. DIY Natural Remedies for Healthy, Younger-looking Skin
♦ Use a natural bristle body brush to dry brush your skin before showering. Doing so stimulates the lymphatic system, improves circulation, gently exfoliates the skin removing dead skin cells, opens pores and rids your body of toxins. After showering, moisturize with coconut oil and a blend of frankincense oil, carrot seed oil and lavender oil.
♦ Use a gentle cleansing tool to gently clean your face in the morning and again in the evening.
♦ Install a shower filter to remove chlorine, fluoride, toxic metals, endocrine disruptors, harmful chemicals and other hidden contaminants that damage your skin and your health. Use chemical-free, organic skin care products. The average woman puts over 500 chemicals on her body every day that compromise the liver, lymph, hormone and immune system! It’s important to recognize that whatever you apply to your skin is absorbed into your body and can cause serious damage over time.
♦ Make your own non-toxic, chemical free skin care products with just a few simple ingredients! DIY Natural Beauty Recipes for Hair, Skin and Body
♦ Many skincare products contain estrogen-mimicking chemicals and harmful ingredients. Become an avid label reader. Look for and avoid products containing parabens, phthalates, mineral oils, aluminum, hard soaps, antibacterial gels and artificial fragrances. Opt for paraben-, hexane- and chemical-free products.
♦ Use organic, non-toxic, paraben-free skin care products, shampoo, cosmetics and laundry detergent void of chemicals.