As the American baby boomers enter their prime years thinking of themselves as middle-aged or even young, it's often a scare or shock to look into a mirror and have an aging person looking back at them. Genetics and time can take their toll on the skin. Some of these changes are inevitable, but many changes can be prevented or, at a minimum, postponed. Our attitudes and emotions, the environment, lifestyle, stress, sleep, surgery, hormones, and nutrition all play a role in proper skincare. Many attempts at fooling Mother Nature only end in side effects and drawbacks for those seeking the appeal of the wrinkle-free face. In the end, only Mother Nature may be the cure.
I use the example of the Chinese culture with which I am very familiar. The wrinkled, drawn, wind and sun revenged, aging faces of the Chinese peasant are proudly worn as a sign of wisdom, perseverance, resistance, and determination of "living"; living life to its fullest with all the richness, obstacles, emotions, and pleasures that come with it. They would neither consider the Western idea of cosmetic surgery nor understand such a concept of hiding one's face in a vain attempt to change this natural progression. The media, cosmetic industry, modern medical techniques, loss of self-esteem, disconnection from nature, and perhaps the scare of losing our beauty drive the American emotional addiction to cosmetic treatments. Let's face it, we all know that only good-looking people are successful...right?
Enter the environment in which we all bathe every day. The sun, blamed for worsening times' effects on the skin, but this is not absolute, as some folks who spend a lot of time in the sun do not wrinkle as early as other folks who don't soak up the rays. Along with the sun, the foods from the soil in which we eat, the air and water we breathe and drink are considered toxic from pollution and create free radicals that are harmful to cells and promote aging. You can't escape free radicals because they're produced due to many normal daily processes, including breathing and digestion. So, do you swallow barrels of antioxidants, shield yourself from sunlight, and avoid cigarette smoke and air pollution? It sounds like we may be doomed if this is the case. Consider the use of whole natural foods that offer far more to the health and appearance of the skin because they come in a total package of nutrition.
Stress can decrease the ability of the skin to heal, remain healthy, and function properly. Some stress is normal, but the skin may reflect the worry without the knowledge or resources to handle it. Help for this problem comes from good nutrition, yoga, Qi Gong, deep breathing, meditation, massage, and regular exercise. These practices can enhance circulation, deliver nutrients to the skin, and improve glandular function to produce hormones that affect the skin, organs, tissues, and mood. There are specific Chinese Qi Gong facial exercises such as dry face washing, facial massage, and stretching to improve blood flow to the skin.
Do you get enough beauty sleep? While you sleep, your skin repairs itself and heals. If you don't get enough quality sleep, you deprive the body of its chance to replenish, restore and rehydrate the toll it takes every day. Exposure to environmental toxins adversely affects the skin, such as smoking or petroleum-based facial cosmetics rubbed into the skin at night.
We are Americans, and we want healthy vibrant looking skin today, not yesterday, and it has to be easy. The treatments need to work fast, require the minimum investment in my time, energy, or responsibility, and they have to be fashionable. Boy, have we got the treatments for you. Let's begin with the harsh dermabrasion products, synthetic creams, patches, human collagen from cloned newborn foreskin obtained from infant circumcisions, thermage, alpha-hydroxy acid peels (chemical burns), botox injections, hyaluronic acid, synthetic filler materials, lasers, dermabrasion, synthetic Retinoic acid (synthetic Vitamin A), abrasive cleansers, exfoliants, lotions, potions and acids that are all doused, rubbed or injected into the skin. Any of the above medical treatments for "rejuvenation" of the skin and reducing your wrinkles mean you will need more protection for your skin than you did before. Why? Because virtually all of the procedures damage the skin, some even damage the nerves and muscles.
The cosmetic industry is booming. Many types of doctors are getting into the act. Botox, liposuction, and other procedures are added as well. Noninvasive procedures like dermabrasion, lasers, injections, and chemical peels are up 747% since 1997. In 2006, 9.1 million minimally invasive treatments were performed. Along with the growth in the industry comes the increase in problems as well. Complications due to injectables administered by poorly trained providers increase complications caused by doctors who were not dermatologists performing dermatologic procedures.
There is another way to the pursuit of beauty; it begins from within naturally. Traditional Chinese medical theory explains that the skin is connected with the lung. The lung doesn't have just two nostrils to breathe from; it has 36,000+ nostrils. Thus, the skin breathes as well. The organs that assist in the lungs' function include the large intestine, which helps clear toxins and wastes that build up in the body and pose a threat ending up in the skin to be cleared (itching, rashes, hives, discoloration). The blood nourishes the skin in theory that is generated by the spleen and stomach function. The skin is fed routinely with proper digestion and absorption, and distribution of nutrition by the spleen and stomach.
Whole food nutrition is the foundation for vibrant skin. Eliminate all refined and/or concentrated simple sugars from the diet. Foods containing trans-fatty acids (homogenized/pasteurized milk & dairy products, margarine, shortening) and other hydrogenated vegetable oils and fried oils should also be eliminated. A high-protein diet helps, while a high carbohydrate diet has a negative effect. Whole food supplements are essential and significantly differ from synthetically produced vitamins. Only the water and fiber are removed in a whole-food supplement, so the enzymes are alive. They contain all the nutrients required by our body to meet the needs of our cells. Synthetic vitamins don't come from food. Vitamin C from corn sugar, thiamine from petroleum or coal tar, and vitamin E from Cottonseed oil are synthetic products.
Conversely, omega -3 essential fatty acids from flax, cod, or tuna oil are rich sources of natural vitamins E, A, and D, helpful in reducing inflammation. Organically bound minerals of zinc, chromium, and selenium are beneficial for modulating the body's immune and sugar handling systems. Water-soluble fiber helps move toxins out of the body and supports intestinal health. Rich-dense C and B complex vitamins include biotin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, niacin, thiamin, and the lipotropic (nutritional factors promoting fat to and from the liver) as choline, methionine, and inositol) are the building blocks for collagen in the skin. Let Mother Nature's bounty be your foundation not only for looking great but for feeling great inside.