The anti-aging movement is a never-ending cycle. It’s as if already effective anti-aging products magically stop working and we have to look for the latest and greatest. Many people are tricked into thinking that new is somehow better, but in reality it’s all just marketing.
The fact is that anti-aging products work just as well as they did a year or two ago and the newest options may or may not hold any promise at all. It all boils down to evidence. I’m all for trying new things, but safety must be of the utmost concern. Many new products are untested and their safety cannot be absolutely assured. A good example of this is the discussion surrounding noni juice. Although it has promise as an effective anti-aging product, there are some reports that it may be toxic to the liver in those with compromised livers, and that it causes complications for people with kidney problems. Pregnant women should avoid it.
Another important factor to consider is that most people concentrate on anti-aging from the outside. In other words, they use topical serums, creams, Botox injections, face-lifts, microdermabrasion, laser treatments and so on. If that’s your thing, there is nothing wrong with that, but it’s important to remember that these treatments only work superficially. A far better way to slow down the aging of our skin and thus our appearance is to provide anti-aging treatment for our internal organs. When our bodies are healthy, our blood will provide all the necessary nutrients and anti-oxidants to the skin from the inside out. Skin cells actually divide and slowly make their way to the skin surface as the superficial layers of skin are sloughed off. Healthy internal organs will also ensure that blood removes toxins accumulated under the skin surface for elimination in the liver and the kidneys. This kind of approach has a far more pronounced anti-aging impact on skin than superficial expensive treatments which only offer temporary solutions.
In truth, anti-aging is all about antioxidants and limiting exposure to factors that can destroy our DNA and our cellular membranes.
There are basically two factors to cellular aging in general. On the one hand, cells age with each division. For many reasons, they slowly lose their capacity to repair damage created by the environment, as well as the ability to repair DNA during cellular replication. This is a slow process, but it develops over time. It’s unknown exactly why this happens, but we know it stems from a biochemical process. Hopefully, one day, we will uncover this process and substantially slow it down or stop it altogether!
The Dreaded Free Radical
Most damage is done by what are called free radicals. These are molecules that usually contain oxygen and a loose electron. Because of the lone electron, they can readily combine with other molecules (like DNA, for example) and cause damage. This damage causes cells to age.
Free radicals can come from the environment (such as air pollution, tobacco smoke, alcohol and toxins in food and water) or they can be produced by our everyday metabolism. In other words, even if you are living in a pristine environment and do not expose yourself to varying pollutants, you will still create free radicals from the normal chemical reactions taking part in your body.
Natural Age Fighters
Thankfully, there are natural products that can neutralize free radicals and stop cellular damage. These compounds are called antioxidants. Here are some of the most tried and true:
Green tea. A daily cup of this is great, but green tea extract is even better. EGCG is the main active antioxidant in green tea. It may also increase metabolism, which helps in maintaining a healthy weight. Grape seed extract and ginger are also both fantastic antioxidants.
Another tea that is much more powerful with respect to its antioxidant power is Guayusa tea. It comes from the rain forest of South America and is gaining popularity as an anti-aging tea. It also acts as a mild stimulant like coffee but without the potential for an upset stomach and without the post-buzz crash.
If you want to stick to foods, basically anything in the fruit and vegetable family is a good choice, as anything that's raw and rich in color will contain antioxidants. The best known are kale, mixed greens, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, citrus fruits, pomegranate, and any kind of berry. Vegetables, especially deep leafy greens, are generally better choices than most fruits as they aren’t as sweet. The sugar in fruit is predisposed to insulin resistance which can lead to diabetes. Plus excess sugar is transformed into fat, which is definitely something that does not go hand-in-hand with anti-aging.
Another aspect of anti-aging is to engage in a lot of fluid intake. Personally, I think that clean spring water with Emergen-C is the best bet as it is sugar free and provides cells with much needed electrolytes and vitamins. Without enough fluids (more than 2 liters each day) and electrolytes, cells, including skin cells, shrivel up and age quicker.
Finally, be cognizant of exercise and proper weight management. Cardiovascular exercise and weight training have anti-aging effects on our muscles, heart, our cardiovascular system and our brains. Each of these are very important players in the anti-aging arena!
If you skip the fads and stick with these ideas, you’ll be doing your skin and your body a favour.
See you next time.