Skin Care and Healing Hands.

During last summer’s travels, one thing that we both noticed was the condition of our skin.  Everyone, as they age, has a tendency to lose elasticity in their skin.  Translated, that means more wrinkles.  Many things contribute to wrinkles and dry skin and since each of us is different, there is no set formula for everyone where wrinkles are concerned, although there are some things that directly impact skin condition, both negatively and positively. 

Cigarette smoke, first or second hand, destroys collagen.  Lack of collagen is a major player in wrinkles and other problems like bad backs.  Collagen keeps the skin pliable and soft, and the spinal discs are composed mainly of collagen.  Have you ever known a heavy smoker who didn’t have excessively wrinkled skin, a bad back or both?  Too much sun and wind can also wreak havoc on the skin, as can low humidity.

What is collagen?  It’s a protein fiber consisting mainly of vitamin C that gives skin, spinal discs and other essential body parts strength and resiliency. Antioxidants, like vitamins C and A, fight free radicals that weaken collagen. Vitamin C helps protect skin from free radical damage due to cigarette smoke and excessive exposure to the sun.

When we were in the NW, where the humidity is double or triple what it is in the desert, improved skin tone, skin softness and fewer wrinkles were obvious.  But, not everyone can live where those conditions exist, so when we got home we did a little research and here’s what we found. 
        
For healthy, glowing skin, eat your carrots.  Your skin loves carrots and they’re beneficial in other areas of health besides.  One remedy I read for quitting smoking was, when you have the urge to light up, eat a carrot stick instead.  Sounds reasonable to me…you’ll get lots of vitamin A which is a good antioxidant, beneficial to the eyes, great for the skin and gives you something to do with your hands as opposed to fondling a cigarette.  Vitamin A also helps to balance the skin’s pH.  A slightly acidic skin condition helps destroy skin bacteria.  Ideally, the skin pH should be somewhere between 5.4 and 5.9. 
 
Fat in the diet can also contribute to skin condition.  Too much fat, especially the wrong kind, can pull moisture out of the skin causing wrinkles and fine lines.  Essential fatty acids are a different story.  EFAs can help moisturize the skin and freshly ground flax seed is one of the best sources; cold water fish and fish oil capsules..the kind without mercury…can also help lubricate the skin, keeping it soft, pliable and more wrinkle free.  Water, the real stuff and not something with carbonation and added sugars, can also help with skin problems. Carbonation stresses the kidneys and the kidneys have a direct connection with the condition of the skin. 

Calcium, vitamin C and beta cryptoxanthin (BC) are also beneficial skin health nutrients.  Sorry ladies but, according to studies, BC only works for men because of male/female hormonal differences.

Fruits and vegetables that are high in specific nutrients, like vitamin C in papayas, can help create healthy skin conditions.  Papaya has other health and skin benefits as well.  When we lived in Hawaii, we grew organic papayas for the Kauai Sunshine Market (farmers market).  Unfortunately, tree ripened, non-irradiated, organic papayas are almost impossible to find and very expensive if you can, which means we have to look other places for other foods with similar natural benefits.

Walnuts are rich in linoleic acid, which is an essential fatty acid.  EFAs have been proven in research to help make the skin moister, plus eliminate fine lines and wrinkles by “plumping up” the skin.

Reading labels can help reduce wrinkles.  Refined carbohydrates and saturated fats increase the aging of the skin.   Sugar and many additives can accelerate the destruction of vitamin C, and consequently the skin’s collagen.
   
Most whole grains contain sufficient amounts of magnesium and B vitamins, and both contribute to healthy skin.  Bananas are a good source of magnesium and they’re high in potassium.  

Avocados, most nuts, salmon, colorful fruits and vegetables, are all rich in beta-carotene, antioxidants and phytonutrients that contribute to healthy skin.

We’ve all heard the phrase “healing hands.”  I personally believe that they can help keep skin soft and reduce wrinkles and fine lines.  Try lightly applying your favorite moisturizer to the palm of your hand and then gently lying with your hand between the pillow and your face.  You don’t want to press hard and create wrinkles, you want to smooth them out with a light touch.  You’ll feel a warmth where the hand contacts the face and after a period of time, move your hand to a different area, then turn on your other side and use the other hand.  This helps increase the blood flow to the skin.  And, as a bonus for guys, increased blood flow to the scalp has been proven to slow hair loss.