Current research indicates that aging is caused by a combination of genetics and environmental influences, particularly free-radical damage. Aging may be inevitable, but the rate of aging is not. It is never too late to take steps that will keep you healthy and maintain a youthful appearance.
For best results, follow these 10 tips from VitaMedica’s founder and medical director, Dr. David H. Rahm.
Stay Out of the Sun
The #1 environmental cause of skin aging is sun exposure. Damage from the sun’s UVA and UVB ultraviolet light is linked to about 90% of the visible signs of aging. UV rays break down elastin, the fibrous tissue in the dermis that gives skin its elasticity, resulting in a dull, saggy appearance. While the damage may not be immediately visible, sun exposure over the long-term causes dryness, uneven skin tone, wrinkles and age spots. Over-exposure to the sun also damages your vision and even raises your risk of skin cancer.
Whether working in the yard, the garage, golfing or even driving to work each day, shielding your skin from the sun is a must. Limit direct exposure with sunglasses, long sleeves and broad-brimmed hats, and use a moisturizing, broad-spectrum sun screen with adequate SPF (30 or higher) when being out in the sun is unavoidable.
Eat A Plant-Rich Diet
Eating a healthy diet comprised of mainly fruits and vegetables, with some lean protein and whole grains, provides key nutrients that support healthy aging inside and out. Studies show a plant-rich diet increases microcirculation and improves skin tone, giving a more attractive appearance by boosting red and yellow pigments in the skin. Dark, leafy greens, citrus fruits and cauliflower are all high in vitamin C, necessary for collagen production to keep skin firm and supple. Learn to shop the “perimeter” of the food store where healthier foods are located. The less processed, the more likely your foods will contain the nutrients and fiber that are vital for the healthy functioning of your body and skin.
Adding more fruits & veggies in your diet also boosts your intake of important phytonutrients that help defend against free-radicals. When there is an imbalance of oxidants like free-radicals, damage to the skin and body systems can be mitigated with anti-oxidants. The bright and vibrant colors of produce are indicative of their high antioxidant content. You can also take a supplement like VitaMedica’s Phyto-5 Phytonutrient Complex to help protect your memory, immunity, eyes and skin.
Drink Plenty of Water
As your body’s largest organ, your skin feels the adverse effects of dehydration by looking dry and wrinkled. Proper hydration ensures tissues and skin cells are replenished, allowing for younger, healthier-looking skin. In addition, having an adequate intake of fluids enables your kidneys and bowels to function more effectively when flushing out the toxins in the body. Without proper hydration, toxins can remain in your system, causing your skin to react with acne, rashes, or other unpleasant conditions. Some beverages like coffee and alcohol act as diuretics, further depleting the body of fluids. Aim to drink 6-8 glasses of filtered water each day to keep the skin supple and support optimum health.
Boost Your Physical Activity
You are likely familiar with the cardiovascular benefits of exercise, but less well known is its impact in promoting healthy skin aging. Regular physical activity increases blood flow, allowing oxygen and nutrients to be carried to working cells in the body – skin included. And the increased blood flow helps remove waste products such as free-radicals. Exercise also decreases stress, which may exacerbate existing skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, or eczema. And though you can’t exactly exercise just your face muscles, firmer muscles in general help you look better generally. If all that were not enough, staying physically fit can stave off cognitive decline.
Make sure that you get an adequate balance of aerobic, strength training, and stretching exercises. Women in particular are advised to do more weight training to maintain muscle mass and reduce the risk for osteoporosis.
Avoid Tobacco Products
Smoking is one of the worst things you can do to your body and skin. Aside from all of the health problems smoking creates, this habit looks unattractive, creates wrinkles, causes the skin to look sallow and can give the fingernails a yellow tint. The inhaled carbon monoxide displaces oxygen in the blood stream, which means organs – including the skin – do not get enough of it to remain healthy. Cigars and cigarettes also reduce vitamin C in the body, leading to collagen breakdown and wrinkle formation. Smoking dehydrates the skin, giving smokers dry, dull complexions. Moreover, the repeated physical act of smoking leads to significantly more wrinkles around the mouth.
Limit Alcohol & Caffeine
Alcohol in moderation can have some health benefits. But an overconsumption of alcohol and caffeine has a negative impact on both your health and appearance. Both alcohol and caffeine cause dehydration and deplete your body of vital nutrients. Alcohol causes blood vessels in the face to dilate and drinking too much has the potential to make these effects permanent, resulting in an unpleasant flushed appearance and red, spidery veins. Pre-existing skin conditions such as rosacea and psoriasis can be exacerbated by alcohol consumption. Alcohol also interferes with nutrient metabolism and is a factor in capillary fragility and breakage. Remember that while it’s alright to indulge in these vices every now and then, moderation is the key!
Adopt a Good Skin Care Regimen
The skin naturally loses collagen and elastin and becomes drier over the years. Free-radicals found in the environment affect cellular DNA, causing skin to become discolored, dull, dry, wrinkled and saggy – all contributing to an aged look. One of the best ways to minimize this effect is to adopt a good skin care regimen to replenish lost nutrients and protect against damage.
Start your daily skin care routine with a gently exfoliating cleanser. Look for products that contain an alpha or beta-hydroxy such as glycolic acid to help remove dead skin cells, revealing brighter, younger-looking skin underneath. Apply a moisturizer to hydrate the skin, allowing it to stay firm and elastic and reducing the appearance of wrinkles. Ingredients like green-tea extract, vitamins A, C & E, and hyaluronic acid help protect against free-radicals, increase collagen and retain moisture.
Boost With Nutritional Supplements
Aging skin results from a combination of biological and environmental factors. While the first line of defense should be a healthy diet, it is a good idea to use supplements to help cover any nutrient gaps. When deciding on what nutritional supplements to take, simply follow the Nutritional Supplement Pyramid created by Dr. Rahm. Start with a good multi-vitamin & mineral, and then add Omega-3s and phytonutrients. VitaMedica’s Anti-Aging Formula provides this exact nutrient combo in convenient daily packs. Then consider any accessory nutrients like probiotics that you may want to include. Think of it as feeding your cells internally with the same nutrients you’re applying externally. In this way you’ll enjoy the benefits to your overall health as well as lustrous hair, stronger nails and a brilliant complexion.
Get Professional Treatments
As we age, facial volume decreases due to loss of fat, bone density and muscle, making lines and wrinkles more obvious. Repetitive facial expressions can also cause deep frown lines that contribute to an aged appearance. In addition, hyperpigmentation, broken capillaries and acne scars can become more prominent with age. A number of non-invasive professional treatments are available to address these concerns.
Injectables (e.g. Botox®) and dermal fillers (e.g. Juvederm®, Radiesse®) can minimize frown lines, smooth wrinkles and restore fullness to facial areas that have lost volume. Fractional laser treatment (e.g. Fraxel®) and intense pulsed light (IPL) trigger the production of collagen and elastin, reduce hyperpigmentation and heal damage to rejuvenate the skin’s appearance. They can last anywhere from a few months to a year or more depending on the product and the patient, and a series of treatments may be required to see optimum results. Refer to our physician locator to find a qualified plastic surgeon, facial plastic surgeon or cosmetic dermatologist near you.
Consider an Aesthetic Procedure
Remember, good health inside is visible on the outside. However, don’t be afraid to get a little help looking good and feeling good about it! The top 5 surgical procedures in 2013 according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons were breast augmentation, nose reshaping, eyelid surgery, liposuction and facelift. Other popular procedures include micro-liposuction on the jaw line, tightening up chins that have become loose due to excess fat or sun exposure. And nonsurgical procedures such as Ultherapy, which uses ultrasound technology to heat the skin, causing collagen to contract and stimulating production of new, tighter tissue, are also gaining in popularity.
If you’re thinking about having “something” done but are not sure where to start, check out the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, or the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery to find board-certified surgeons.
VitaMedica is trusted by over 2,000 aesthetic practices as the #1 provider of nutraceuticals for surgery recovery. Check out VitaMedica’s line of Recovery Products for solutions to address all the cosmetic and physiological aspects of healing to get you back on your feet faster!
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.